Samir Mohammad on why he got axed from the Village Cork -- and owner Lisa Lapp's plans for the future
"So, I'm officially fired," read the text from Samir Mohammad, the now former executive chef of the Village Cork, who took the job -- and a risk -- when he first stepped behind the butane burners in January of 2010. "I knew this was a job that would either make me or break me, but it was an awesome challenge, I fell in love with the place as soon as I walked in, and despite the fact that the kitchen had no hood, no walk-in, no heat lamp, and not much more than a hand blender, I saw the potential there, and I wanted to see what I could do to build a really great menu," says Mohammad, who was hired by Lisa Lapp, who opened the wine bar in 2001.
But yesterday morning, he was fired.
"I knew it was coming," admits Mohammad, who was on his way to the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen on Thursday when he got a call from his sous chef, Spencer Horton. "He told me that he wanted to give me a heads up that Lisa would fire me on Monday morning, and that he'd be fired, too, for telling me," recalls Mohammad. Horton, as it turns out, resigned Friday night following dinner service, and he was right about Mohammad's future tenure at the Village Cork.
"I went in for a meeting yesterday morning at 11 and asked Lisa what was going on, and she asked me the same question," says Mohammad, who just a week prior had hosted a smashing Denver FIVE dinner at the Village Cork, which was sold out. "The truth is that she'd been treating me like shit ever since the FIVE dinner, and then she shunned me for the next three days by giving me the silent treatment, which was the most freaking awkward thing ever," he tells me.
But their final conversation, he says, was amicable, although he takes issue with her reasons for giving him the ax: "She said I was spending too much time away from the Village Cork and that she had hired a chef, not a PR person, and I told her that when you hire a successful chef, you're automatically getting PR with it, but that's obviously not what she wanted," he allows.