Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr are leaving Keith McNally's restaurant empire to pursue other endeavors, The Robs report. The duo opened the seminal Balthazar with McNally in 1997, setting off a string of collaborative hits across downtown Manhattan in the 16 years that followed. In addition to running the kitchen and maintaining standards at Balthazar, Hanson and Nasr served as co-executive-chefs of Pastis, Schiller's Liquor Bar, and most recently, Minetta Tavern.
Hanson and Nasr have provided Eater with an official statement on the split:
Keith McNally, Lee Hanson, and Riad Nasr are parting ways after 16 successful years together. Hanson and Nasr have nothing but gratitude and admiration for McNally. "It's time for us to brave new challenges," say Hanson and Nasr. "We wish Keith and his entire team nothing but the best and continued success."
More information on their future plans, and who will replace them, should follow in the next few days.
· Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr to Part Ways with Keith McNally [Grub Street]