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Chef Tom Valenti Heads to Le Cirque

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Former Ouest fans, take note

Tom Valenti heads to Le Cirque.
Nick Solares
Melissa McCart is the editor for Eater New York.

Tom Valenti has been hired as executive chef of Le Cirque, with his new menu debuting in the next few weeks.

“Tom has started and we are excited. I’ve always loved his straightforward style,” Mauro Maccioni, co-owner of the restaurant told Page Six.

On Thursday, Valenti will do a tasting for New York’s most famous maitre d’, Le Cirque’s Sirio Maccioni, who returned to the dining room in November after a year-long absence due to an injury.

Taking the helm of the kitchen at Le Cirque is a statement move for Valenti, who shuttered his 14-year old restaurant Ouest in 2015. Restaurateur behind the now-closed West Branch, as an author of handful of books, and a shareholder in Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Valenti spoke with Eater months before Ouest closed about the changing restaurant landscape, citing places like Chipotle as competition. “When we go out to eat, do we always go to a fine dining restaurant?” he asked interviewer Andrew Friedman. Though he admitted hadn’t eaten there in years, “I want quenelles de brochete and sauce Nantua,” he said. “I want, you know, a beautiful roast duck and ile flottante. I fucking want it, because I'm afraid I'll never get it again.” (Open since 1962, La Grenouille is still going.)

Le Cirque has endured its share of tribulations, especially recently. Management has been accused of sexual harassment by former employees and, before that, wage violations. In 2012, Times critic Pete Wells gave it a one-star. “If you asked these ingredients to speak for themselves,” he wrote, “they would shrug and stare at the floor.”

Open since 1974 when it debuted in the Mayfair Hotel, Le Cirque has resided in the Bloomberg building since May 2006.