Chef Matthew Lightner will leave Atera at the end of March, reports the Times. Lightner opened the 13-seat tasting counter with owner Jodi Richard back in 2012 to much critical acclaim, garnering three stars from the Times, two stars from Michelin and most recently four stars from Eater critic Ryan Sutton. "It's time to move on and do my own thing," Lightner tells Eater "I have a few plans, but they are still under development." According to the Times, the chef will remain in NYC and is looking to open a "high-end restaurant," but also, notably, "'something casual and fun, comfort food' that would reflect his upbringing in Nebraska."
Lightner's replacement has already been found: acclaimed Danish chef Ronny Emborg. Emborg has an extensive career in Europe, having previously worked at El Bulli, as the private chef for Margrethe II, Queen of Denmark, and currently (until next month) as chef at Restaurant Marchal in the Hotel d’Angleterre. Lightner – who last cooked in Portland, Oregon – and Emborg may hail from disparate places, but they share a similar aesthetic and sensibility. Both have been at the forefront of the Nordic cuisine movement and both are classically trained.
According to Richard, the restaurant will close on March 28 for approximately three weeks, reopening on April 21 with the new chef and menu. Richard reports that kitchen and front of house staff will all be retained, and that the restaurant will undergo renovations during the hiatus. According to Richard, prices are expected to stay the same, at $225 for tasting menu and $165 for the wine pairing, $325 for the reserve pairing, and $55 for the "tea progression."