Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chef shakeup uptown

Bill Schutz, most recently executive chef at Ballantyne Country Club, is now executive chef for the Sonoma Restaurant Group, encompassing uptown’s Sonoma Modern American, Pie Town and Press.

Longtime Charlotte restaurant watchers will know that means the breakup of one of the city’s most prominent and long-lasting dining partnerships, between restaurateur Pierre Bader and chef Tim Groody.

Groody, known for his early and influential patronage of area farmers and contemporary cuisine flair, says he has been talking with backers for some months, and is exploring with them several possibilities, ranging from uptown to Huntersville. He says the group (which wishes for now to remain low-profile) plans to create something appropriate to the location it finds, rather than deciding what to create, then finding a space for it. He plans to continue his Friday cooking show on WBTV, but will be on vacation for a few weeks. He declined to discuss the split further. Both he and Bader said Groody is relinquishing his partnership piece in the restaurants.

Bader said the breakup of the 12-year relationship was his decision, and that Schutz came highly recommended, including by his Pie Town partner Peter Reinhart, currently employed as “chef on assignment” by Johnson & Wales. Schutz had worked as chef for the university’s University Events Center, not a part of the culinary school, and “Peter thinks he can walk on the moon.” His background includes stints as chef de cuisine at Bouley Bakery in Manhattan, and in Charlotte, as chef at Bentley’s on 27. Schutz will not, however, be pursuing the molecular gastronomy he has been noted for, according to Bader: “I’m not going to let him play with that stuff.”

Changes will occur at Sonoma, but Bader is unwilling to announce them yet. Expect menu style and cuisine to remain, but “the way it’s offered will change.” That shift is planned for the end of July. Also new with Sonoma: An Italian restaurant at Founders Hall to replace the closed Taverna; this new construction, which Bader estimates at 60 percent complete, is at street level on the corner of Trade and College streets.


Anonymous said...

Oh boy, just what we need - another Italian restaurant.

Daune Gardner said...

Chef Groody, we got a place for you in Waxhaw!

Michael said...

There's nothing wrong with someone being well compensated and recognized for the hard work they do. But, I'm about tired of the endless shows and written drivel about chefs. They've been elevated to such a status, it's ridiculous. These cooks aren't doctors, scientists, nurses, firefighters, police officers, soldiers or other jobs where the people really deserve to be recognized for their services to us all. Those chefs cook food, and they do so with egos bigger than Terrell Owens. Most are obnoxious and arrogant. They aren't anything special, just people who know how to cook, and to look at many of them, they certainly know how to eat. Some of us don't worship food and could really care less about these chefs.

Poor Helen loves her some food and a good cook, she certainly can't cook herself. You know that's true, Helen.


Anonymous said...

Kind of like the drivel on your lame blog there, Michael.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the new chef can work some molecular gastronomy magic on the pizza at Pie Town...Peter Reinhart is a good teacher, but in terms of executing at a restaurant...he is on has two strikes (Pizza Peel and Pie Town). Places are awful and overpriced.

Sonoma needed some fresh blood, and the new guy has a legit background (particularly Bouley's in NYC). I agree w/ the 11:02 PM poster...any philistine with a blog passes as an expert these days...clown