Joe Freemond walks from Cellar Wine Bar, citing a "long list of problems" -- and lands as the chef of DiFranco's
The writing was on the wall, says Joe Freemond, the soon-to-be-former executive chef of Cellar Wine Bar, which lost three of its kitchen staffers last week -- Freemond included -- after what the chef describes as a "long list of problems" that the owners, including Brian Delgado, refused to address.
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"It really came down to myself and the rest of my kitchen crew not willing to bust our asses for owners who have no sense of appreciation, no sense of purpose or vision and who made it completely impossible to get anything done," says Freemond, who spent nine months at the helm (and will depart for good on Saturday) creating handcafted pastas from a kitchen that's barely big enough to boil a pot of water. The "reality of the situation," he continues, "is that there was a complete lack of communication, coupled with owners who ignored every useful piece of advice that we tried to give to them."
And Freemond, who's spent the last ten years as a chef, doing time in the kitchens of TAG, the Village Cork and Il Mondo Vecchio, decided he'd had enough. "I've been in this business for a decade, and I can't continue to bust my butt unless there's a good reason, and while this is not at all the way I wanted things to play out, it was just too much of a struggle to get anything done, and after a meeting with the owners, it became even more apparent that they had no vision for the future, so I gave my two-week notice, as did my sous chef and my line cook."
His sous, Wil Sumner, landed at Lala's Pizzeria + Wine Bar, cooking alongside Samir Mohammad, while his line cook, Ian Batholomew, a culinary student, will help Freemond out on a part-time basis at DiFranco's, an intimate Italian restaurant owned by Ryan DiFranco in the Golden Triangle. Freemond is now chef de cuisine there.
"Joe and I worked together at TAG -- I was bartending and he was back in the kitchen, and he was actually my original chef choice when I decided to open DiFranco's, but we were delayed, so the timing was poor, but now the timing is right," says DiFranco, whose menu, he adds, is an ideal foil for Freemond's talents. "He brings passion to the kitchen, he'll breathe new life into our menu, he has a great following, and he makes the most amazing pastas."