Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant located in the back of a grocery store, abruptly closed in July after firing its head chef, César Ramirez. The restaurant is set to reopen in October, with Max Natmessnig and Marco Prins, who both worked at the restaurant previously, as co-leads.
The initial closure was reportedly related to disputes between owner Moneer “Moe” Issa, and Ramirez, which led to his being fired, according to court documents obtained by Business Insider (Google still marks it open.)
The blowout drama that has ended in a lawsuit was reportedly a long time coming.
Ramirez filed a lawsuit in July against the restaurant and Manhattan Fare Corp, its holding company, for claims of unpaid wages, defamation, and other damages in the “tens of millions” according to the New York Times, adding that the termination was “arbitrarily” decided. Likewise, Ramirez’s lawsuit claims that $400,000 was “withdrawn, diverted and misappropriated” — just some of the allegations lodged against both of the parties, as reported by Business Insider. Issa claimed Ramirez, who had moved up to become a partner last year, was “tyrannical” as a leader and participated in “theft of company property” including allegedly more than $30,000 of wine bottles. On August 16, Ramirez filed an injunction.
Customers were not alerted to the sudden July shutdown, arriving at the restaurant, which had been open for more than a decade, to find that their $430 per person meal was canceled. Meanwhile, employees were allegedly caught in the crossfire, given no notice that their jobs would be terminated, and told guests that the kitchen as is was “unsafe” to operate.
Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare first opened in 2009, before relocating to its current home in Midtown West. The fine dining restaurant’s parent company, Brooklyn Fare, has several grocery stores in the city.
Earlier this summer New York Times food critic Pete Wells listed it as one of the top 100 restaurants in the city, calling Ramirez’s control over ingredients “almost supernatural.” In 2011, then-critic Sam Sifton gave the space a three-star review in the Times.
The same month of the closure, the New York Post reported that Ramirez had signed a lease on 333 Hudson Street, between Charlton and Vandam streets. It was not immediately clear whether that project is still underway.
As for the new look of leadership: the team says they will maintain the 13-course tasting menu format. “There can be fun and warmth,” Natmessnig told the New York Times in today’s announcement (most recently, he was an alum of a German two-Michelin-starred Alois-Dallmayr Fine Dining) The last posting for Prins was at a Rotterdam restaurant called Grace, according to the publication.
Update: August 22, 2023, 4:17 p.m.: This article was updated to clarify information about Ramirez’s injunction, previously reported by Business Insider.