They come, they go, they come back, they leave again. Such is the chef game in Palm Beach County.
Michelle Bernstein announced she’d be leaving the boutiquey Palm Beach hotel, The Omphoy at month’s end. The James Beard Award winner’s MB at the Omphoy was one of three restaurants (Michy’s, Sr. Martinez and Crumb on Parchment in Miami) she was operating with spouse-partner David Martinez. Chef Lindsay Autry, currently on Bravo TV’s Top Chef show as one of the final cheftestants, has allegedly already left. Official word from her publicist is: “she’s taking a little break.” But a gossip site has Twitter lit up with its report that Omphoy owner-billionaire and former Senate hopeful Jeff Greene, currently living at with his family at the hotel, caused the exodus. According to Jose Lambiet’s report, it was by treating the workers from the restaurant and spa – who are outside contractors – “like his own domestic staff.”
Dean Max announced earlier this month he’s severing ties with the Marriott on Singer Island at his 3800 Ocean. The chef from 3030 Ocean in Ft. Lauderdale says it didn’t work out with a hotel staff that’s running a breakfast and lunch service from the same kitchen where he’s trying to operate a high-end dinner restaurant. “I wish them well,” Max said. The oceanside location in the former Resort hotel on Singer Island is problematic – his upscale diners, many from Palm Beach, wouldn’t drive that far. “It’s a tough location,” he said, but he thought it could be overcome, saying at opening that it could be a success “once they get to know me and my food.” He leaves melancholy. “I’m sad it didn’t work out – this is where I grew up.”
Roy Villacrusis has dropped his partnership with Rodney Mayo’s group who brought him in to design Kapow! Noodle Bar’s menu. According to Villacrusis, former chef/owner of Kubo in North Palm Beach, his hands-on eclectic Asiatic menu didn’t fit with what they want to do at the Mizner Park restaurant in Boca. “The concept was too confusing,” he said. “I’m taking my name off the partnership and (will) move on.” Going forward, he said, “I have a couple of things on the back burner, but I am being a bit more cautious now, making sure it’s the concept/food I want to do and they (partners) are sincere and willing to back it up.”
Glen Manfra, of Palm Beach’s Amici and Bice fame – and once with Vic and Angelo’s, cheffed SpoonFed in Delray for only a few months before deciding it wasn’t working with the current owner, AMG Restaurants. He says he wished they had trusted his experience more; he liked his team and especially the concept of serving breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Atlantic Avenue spot. Other opportunities have already come up, he said; he’s looking outside the area as well as locally.