Chef Swaps: 11 Reasons to Revisit Restaurants

Look who's new in these familiar kitchens
December 2, 2015
by Scott Kearnan

Boston's restaurant scene never stagnates — not even in long-standing, well-established restaurants. Chefs are always trading gigs, finding ways to reinvigorate the menus at each spot they land.  Here are a few particularly notable shuffles from 2015. If it's been a while since you've visited any of these restaurants, take note: there's a new face in the kitchen, so it's time for a fresh taste. 

Jonathan Kilroy at Bar Boulud

A marquee name like Daniel Boulud can't be in all his kitchens at once, so he'd better have a crack team in his kitchens. In October, Kilroy became the latest toque on the ground at Boston's Bar Boulud, replacing Aaron Chambers in the chef de cuisine role. Kilroy was previously executive sous at the Michelin-starred Cafe Boulud in NYC, and now the Shrewsbury native is honoring his New England roots with new additions to the Back Bay restaurant's menu: pan-seared Maine scallops with blood orange, cauliflower, almonds and Calabrian chile. 

Michele Carter at Barbara Lynch Gruppo

In January, Carter succeeded Colin Lynch as only the second executive chef for Barbara Lynch's restaurant empire, now overseeing culinary for its full portfolio: No.9 Park, Menton, B&G Oysters, Sportello, Drink and Stir. Carter was a biologist and researcher at Harvard School of Public Health before trading science for the culinary sphere, studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney, Australia. This year saw the launch of Menton's the Gold Bar, so Carter's Midas touch is already making moves.

Gregory Torrech at The Beehive

Haven't buzzed by the Beehive in a while? Here's a reason: in May, Torrech replaced Marc Orfaly as executive chef at the bohemian South End eatery, where this alum of NYC restaurants like Allen & Delancey, Brown Cafe and Sixth Street Kitchen purveys his progressive, globally minded approach. 

Stephanie Cmar at Fairsted Kitchen

After detouring through pop-up concepts like Stacked Donuts and Party of Two (her collaboration with pastry whiz Justin Burke-Samson), two-time Top Chef alum Stephanie Cmar returned to the world of brick-and-mortars. In May, Cmar entered the executive chef role at Brookline's Fairsted Kitchen so outgoing chef Jason Albus could concentrate on opening his team's next venture, the Frogmore, a Southern-influenced eatery in Jamaica Plain. At Fairsted Cmar has invoked her Barbara Lynh Gruppo–groomed experience with French and Italian while adding some hints of Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine: think lamb ribs with kohlrabi slaw and lentils with chraimeh sauce.

Tyler Kinnett at Harvest 

This year, longtime Harvest chef Mary Dumont departed the Harvard Square stalwart to work on an upcoming solo venture. Filling the void is the young Tyler Kinnett, already showing big ambition by introducing to Harvest a handmade pasta program and decadent six-course tasting menu. So far, so great. In fact, we recently honored Kinnett as one of Boston's "30 Under 30" culinary game-changers for 2015.

Douglas Rodrigues at Liquid Art House

Now that opening chef Rachel Klein has moved on to open her own bistro RFK Kitchen in Needham, the high-end restaurant-meets-art gallery has a new master at work: Rodrigues, an alum of Ken Oringer's Clio and, most recently, Brian Poe's Tip Tap Room. Expect a slow evolution of the modern global menu that will pick up more Asian influence and be inspired by the "incredible vibe" of the glossy yet graffiti-bedecked space, said Rodrigues in a release. Also coming: more small plates, nightly tasting menus and an expanded list of inventive dumplings. 

Matt Drummond at Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar

We're crazy about some of the new items Drummond has introduced to Loco since taking the helm in the spring, like charcoal-accented fluke ceviche with coconut leche de tigre, pickled red onions, roasted sweet potato and coconut curd. Before stepping in for opening chef Nicholas Dixon, Drummond managed the culinary program at Brasserie Jo and was executive chef at Temple Bar

Francesco Gargiulli at MAST'

In March, Gargiulli replaced opening chef Celio Pereira at this Downtown trattoria with an errant apostrophe. The Sicily native cooked all over Italy, earning a nickname of "Sushi Man" for some of his Japanese-inflected expertise. But it's all about Italian cookery at MAST', where Gargiulli's newly debuted dishes include the paccheri al ragout di pesce, a seafood ragout with Merlot-simmered tuna, salmon, calamari and shrimp over pasta. 

Alexandre Bonnefoi at STRIP by Strega

Italian restaurant kingpin Nick Varano went straight to this French pastry chef to replace Suzanna Bradley at his new Park Square steakhouse. Marseille native Bonnefoi has an impressive résumé that includes stints at Riederer in Aix-en-Provence and Epicure at Paris's Hôtel Le Bristol, among other famed French spots. He just joined STRIP in late October, so he's still starting to roll out new desserts, but expect dishes that take advantage of his noted sugar sculpting. And he'll also oversee special events, which makes sense for a chef with experience catering Ceremony de César, the French equivalent of the Oscars. 

Stephen Marcaurelle at Tres Gatos

In May, the Tres Gatos team moved Marcaurelle over from its nearby restaurant, the just-reopened Centre Street Cafe, so he could serve as executive chef of this Jamaica Plain tapas haven. An alum of the similarly small plates-drive hit Toro, Marcaurelle says his goal is to create streamlined dishes with big, bold flavors but fewer components. 

Brendan Pelley at Wink & Nod

In January Pelley's modern Greek pop-up Pelekasis will find a semipermanent home at Wink & Nod as the latest concept to move into the "culinary incubator" that is that South End restaurant's kitchen. (Previous inhabitants have included Whisk, Bread & Salt Hospitality and the outgoing Akinto.) Can't wait? Pelley, previously known for helming Zebra's Bistro and Wine Bar, has been previewing Pelekasis with appearances at restaurants like La Brasa and Commonwealth, so keep an eye out — or head to the Eat Boutique Holiday Market, where you'll find him later this month.