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The Scoop: Chef Chris Lee to leave In Good Company family of restaurants

December 18th 01:12pm, 2012



Chef Chris Lee is leaving In Good Company, the hospitality group owned by local entrepreneurs Ami Grimes and Dr. Gurpreet Padda. Lee is currently executive chef for In Good Company, charged with overseeing culinary operations for its restaurants, which include Café Ventana, Sanctuaria, Diablitos Cantina and the recently opened Hendricks BBQ in St. Charles.

Lee submitted his resignation a month ago, he told The Scoop, and he expects his final day with the company to be sometime in mid-January. Lee declined to discuss his future plans since they are still to be determined.

“It’s not unexpected,” said Padda regarding Lee’s decision to leave. Padda mentioned that he and Grimes are heavily involved in recipe development and menu decisions. “Every recipe is vetted by us. So for an executive chef, it sometimes doesn’t leave as much creativity that they want,” he said. “He’s given us five great years,” Padda added, noting that Lee’s pending departure is amicable. “Chris is leaving us on extremely good terms.”

Padda and Grimes will not seek to replace Lee, according to Padda. “We won’t have an über chef over all of it. One executive chef probably isn’t the way to go. We’ll spread it out.” Currently, each In Good Company restaurant has a head chef on premise. Padda explained that if the company only operated one restaurant concept with multiple locations instead of the “diversity” of restaurant concepts (currently a Mexican cantina, Southern barbecue, New Orleans-style cafe and a Latin-inspired tapas/cocktail lounge), “We’d have one exec chef for them all.”

Upcoming projects for In Good Company include: Italian restaurant DiSilvio’s to be located adjacent to Café Ventana in Midtown; the relocation of Cathedral Square Brewery; and Soulard Music, a five-building project in Soulard. The timetable for each is still to be determined. Padda noted that none will be launched until mid- to late summer, but that he and Grimes are currently in the interview process to make “project-specific” hires.

— photo by Jonathan S. Pollack

By Ligaya Figueras

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