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Chef Hung Huynh Leaves the EMM Group Because He Couldn't Get 'Taken Seriously'

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Huynh says he never got to cook the food he wanted to cook, so now he's going out on his own.

Huynh (center) with EMM Group head honchos Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm
Huynh (center) with EMM Group head honchos Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm
Daniel Krieger

Chef Hung Huynh, who has been a player in the EMM Group's restaurant/nightclub empire for the past four years, has cut his ties with the company for good. Apparently, he's been waffling about it for a couple months now – Zagat reports that he initially resigned from his position at Catch and Lexington Brass back in December, right before his contract ran out. But then he decided to try to negotiate with them after all, and has been trying to come to a deal until just recently, when he finally gave up. So why did he decide to call it quits? Because, as he puts it, it's "hard to get taken seriously by somewhere like the New York Times" when you work for the EMM Group.

Huynh, who won Top Chef in 2007, helped EMM build Catch into a global empire. He was also responsible for the pan-Asian menu at The General, the group's mega-flop on the Bowery. But here's his damning assessment of those experiences: "I had to cook food to please two guys based on their palates [EMM's founders]. There was only so much I could do since I couldn't do anything too weird or authentic." Sounds like those EMM guys really cramped his style.

So now he's embarked on a project of his own, which sounds like it just might be another one of these fast casual places that's all the rage. He won't give away too many details yet, but says that after opening something in NYC he hopes to do something "across the country," that will go towards the "more casual, less expensive" end of things.

The General

199 Bowery, New York, NY 10002 (212) 271-7101

Lexington Brass

517 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY


6623 Market Street, , NC 28405 (910) 799-3847 Visit Website