April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman’s Upper West Side restaurant White Gold Butchers is losing its star butchers.
Erika Nakamura and Jocelyn Guest — who have garnered attention and accolades for their nose-to-tail artistry since opening White Gold in 2016 — are leaving next Tuesday, March 27. The women, who are partners in the business, will no longer be at the company “in any role or capacity,” they announced in a joint statement. The move comes just a few months after Friedman was accused of sexual misconduct, including unwelcome kissing and requests for nude photos.
The butchers declined to say why they’re leaving or to comment on the allegations. But insiders tell Eater that although the accusations were not the only reason for their departure, they became increasingly uncomfortable with the stories that unfolded about Friedman and the way the company handled the maelstrom.
Friedman has stepped down from day-to-day management but retains ownership in restaurants like White Gold, The Spotted Pig and The Breslin. As the industry reckons with the #MeToo, restaurants are finding that actually getting accused men to divest from businesses is easier said than done.
“Building a whole animal butchery program on the Upper West Side has truly been among the most rewarding projects of our respective careers,” a statement from the women says. “We depart for what’s next with so much love for our dope staff and wonderful customers and neighbors. We can never seem to keep lay our knives down for long and we are very much looking forward to what’s next. [sic]”
The culinary director for Bloomfield, Michelle Petrulio, says in a statement that “we have the utmost respect and affection for them as butchers and people. Whatever they do next, we’ll be first in line at the counter.”
White Gold Butchers opened in October 2016, an ambitious project to combine whole animal butchery with both a neighborhood deli and full-service restaurant. The Times awarded it two stars, commending it for memorable meat dishes. Meat from the shop ends up in other Friedman-Bloomfield projects, like The Spotted Pig, and at its debut, Bloomfield highlighted Nakamura and Guest’s involvement for her bigger ambitions — to have more control over the farm-to-table sourcing process at the restaurants.
With additional reporting by Serena Dai