Joel Huff on the move


It’s hard to keep up, that’s for sure. The perennial San Francisco chef-shuffle is a source of both amusement and aggravation for me, keeping me perpetually on my toes. Who, after all, wants to be the last to know?  So it’s always nice when a bit of information lands in my lap, as was the case today. My editorial assistant had just finished fact-checking a bunch of our restaurant listings (like painting the Golden Gate Bridge, this is a never-ending task—you complete it, only to begin again) and dropped the sheaf of papers on my desk, noting casually, “Oh, by the way, Joel Huff is leaving Silks. But you knew that, right?” Uh…no!

So, friends, this just in: Joel Huff has left the building. And by building I mean, of course, the kitchen of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, where he has been executive chef since 2005. We profiled him in our Hot 20 Under 40 in October 2006, the same year that Esquire’s John Mariani named him a “Chef to Watch.” Well, we’ve been watching (and eating) since, and we’ll be the first to tell you that his shoes are mighty big. Though a rep at Mandarin Oriental did confirm that Huff left last week to “pursue other projects,” we’ve yet to hear any confirmation about where he has gone and what he is up to next.

Stay tuned…once we know, you’ll know.

UPDATE: From the PR folks comes this statement: "Sal Abaunza, general manager of Mandarin Oriental San Francisco announced that Joel Huff has resigned from the position of chef de cuisine of Silks restaurant as of June 25, 2008. “Joel is a very talented and creative chef and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors,” stated Mr. Abaunza. “While we have several candidates in mind, we will begin a nationwide search for a chef who will maintain the creative and elegant dining experience to which guests of Silks have become accustomed over the last twenty years.”" Still we're left to wonder...where is Huff headed?

UPDATE THE RETURN: This just in (3:40 p.m.) from the PR folk: While the search takes place for a new Silks chef, the hotel's executive chef and food & beverage director, Joshua Nudd, will oversee Silks.
 He recently came to the Mandarin Oriental from Chambers Kitchen, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant, located in the Chambers Luxury Art Hotel in Minneapolis. Joel Huff said he doesn't have any specific plans to announce at this time but he is looking for a new position.
So, what have we learned today? Silks, for all intents and purposes, has no chef, and Joel Huff has no specific plans. Talk about inside scoop.

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