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Turning Tables: Chefs and Somms at Renowned Restaurants Play Musical Chairs

Dovetail, Bar Boulud, Marta, Gotham and Gage Hospitality Group go through staff shuffles. Plus, exciting openings in Beverly Hills, Disney Springs and New York
Union Square Hospitality Group's Marta is on the ground floor of the Redbury Hotel in New York.
Photo by: Liz Clayman
Union Square Hospitality Group's Marta is on the ground floor of the Redbury Hotel in New York.


Marta Keeps It in the Danny Meyer Family with New Wine Director

Danny Meyer's New York–based Union Square Hospitality Group has made some leadership changes. Kimberly Cavoores, formerly the assistant beverage director at Meyer's Best of Award of Excellence winner Maialino, is now the wine director at the group's Award of Excellence–winning pizza spot, Marta, and its adjacent bar, Vini e Fritti. She replaces Katie Morton, who departed earlier this year for Per Se.

"I could not be more excited about joining the team at Marta," Cavoores told Wine Spectator. "I actually would frequent Vini e Fritti quite often after I finished my shift at Maialino. Being kind of a Champagne nut, nothing makes me happier than a killer glass of bubbles post-work. Now, I actually have the pleasure of curating a list that I already enjoy so much." Cavoores will continue to focus on Champagne at both the restaurant and the bar, and hints at upcoming changes on the 250-selection, Italian-focused wine list.

"Her promotion was such an easy decision," said Jenni Guizio, the USHG associate director of wine who oversees all wine operations at Maialino, Marta and Vini e Fritti. "She brings a wealth of industry experience and serious knowledge to the table. Kim and the team [at Marta] are exactly the people you want throwing the pizza party every night."—L.W.

Chef John Fraser Sells Dovetail

New York chef John Fraser sold Award of Excellence winner Dovetail to his partners in the restaurant. According to a statement from Dovetail, Fraser did so to focus on upcoming projects and his existing concepts, including Award of Excellence winner Narcissa in Manhattan's East Village. Dovetail will remain open and operate as usual, with chef de cuisine Stanley Michalski running the kitchen.

Dovetail has a Restaurant Award for its 550-selection wine list with strengths in Burgundy, Bordeaux and California, overseen by wine director Amy Racine.—J.H.

New York's Avra Opens in Beverly Hills

Wonho Frank Lee
Greek restaurant Avra puts an emphasis on fresh seafood.

A new outpost of Avra, Tao Group's Greek eatery, is now open in Beverly Hills, Calif. One of the restaurant's two New York locations, Avra Madison, has a Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list.

"The vision was to create a list that was approachable yet diversified," said Tim Keller, beverage manager for the Beverly Hills location. Its 160 selections will focus on California and Old World labels, as well as Greek wines from producers like Artemis Karamolegos, Driopi and Zafeirakis. Keller hopes to introduce guests to Greek wines through the by-the-glass list in particular, which includes about 20 selections.—J.H.

Jon McDaniel Leaves Gage Hospitality Group

Jon McDaniel, corporate wine director for Chicago's Gage Hospitality Group, has left his position to pursue wine consulting for restaurants in the Chicago area. "It's time to focus on what I really am passionate about," McDaniel told Wine Spectator. "And expand on what is possible here in the city and show how amazing of a restaurant city Chicago is."

McDaniel has already had a significant impact on the wine scene in Chicago, where he oversaw the programs for all five Gage Hospitality restaurants, four of which earned Restaurant Awards: Acanto, Beacon Tavern, Coda di Volpe and the Gage.

He will start his Chicago consulting company under the Second City Soil umbrella, a website he created in November 2017 to feature Chicago's wine and dining accomplishments. His aim is "to make Chicago a more relevant wine community" by helping restaurants, operators and buyers be successful. "Basically if you can't afford a full-time wine director yet you still need help in training and operating and operations systems, it's a lot easier to hire me," said McDaniel. His last day with Gage was May 23.—G.S.

Bar Boulud Names New Executive Chef

Best of Award of Excellence winner Bar Boulud has brought on Dieter Samijn as its new executive chef. "I want to keep the restaurant's authentic and traditional Lyonnais cuisine that is welcoming and accessible," Samijn told Wine Spectator via email. While he isn't looking to change much of the "DNA" of Bar Boulud's French cuisine, his summer menu will incorporate more seafood options, seasonal ingredients and lighter fare inspired by France's Provence. The 650-selection wine list at Bar Boulud focuses on Burgundy and other French regions.—B.G.

Now Open at Disney World: Wine Bar George

Mike Gluckman
Accompanying adults at the Walt Disney Resort have a new food and wine destination in Wine Bar George.

George Miliotes, the former wine director for Restaurant Award mainstays such as the Capital Grille, Seasons 52 and Eddie V's Prime Seafood, now has his own concept at Disney Springs in Orlando, Fla. Two years in the making, Wine Bar George opened to the public May 19.

The 200-seat restaurant offers more than 130 wines, most available both by the bottle and by the glass. Some high-end selections are available in 1-, 3- and 6-ounce pours via Coravin and Vinfinity. "So, if you are looking for an awesome $9 glass on tap or a few ounces of Château Margaux, we will have wines to delight you," Miliotes said. Other trophies include Trimbach, Sine Qua Non and Biondi-Santi. There is also a large selection of bottles priced under $50, as well as a variety of cocktails, beer and cider, and "frosé" (a rosé slushie).

Executive chef Ron Rupert—also formerly of Seasons 52—serves small plates like housemade meatballs, and entrées of skirt steak, wine-braised chicken and grilled sea bass served family style.—L.W.

Gotham Bar & Grill Welcomes New Wine Director

New York's Gotham Bar & Grill has a new leader to oversee its 700-selection, Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list: Josh Lit, previously a sommelier at Grand Award winner the Modern.

Outgoing wine director Heidi Turzyn is taking a new career direction after more than 20 years in the restaurant industry. She told Wine Spectator exclusively that she has accepted a position overseeing guest experience and events for an investment and law firm.

"I've been through so much with the team [at Gotham] and I care so much for the people," Turzyn said. "A lot of them have seen me grow through different positions. I respect them so much—the chefs, management, the staff. It's a really nice relationship."—L.W.

Smith & Wollensky Closes Historic Location, Opens New One

After 15 years of service, the Boston Back Bay outpost of Smith & Wollensky, a Best of Award of Excellence winner, will close. A spokesperson for the company said they've decided not to renew the lease that expires this summer. Including this one, the chain has seven Restaurant Award–winning locations. But a new Smith & Wollensky is opening today in Wellesley, Mass. It will feature the brand's signature steak-house cuisine and an extensive wine list emphasizing California.—J.H.

Woodpecker by David Burke Is Open in New York

Courtesy of Woodpecker by David Burke
Don't be fooled: The crust on this pizza is made with real crickets.

Chef David Burke's latest concept, Woodpecker, is now open in New York City, serving an eclectic mix of wood-fired dishes like "cricket-rita pizza," on a crust made with crickets, and lobster calzone.

General manager and sommelier Mark Bruner created the 100-selection wine list, which focuses on California favorites like Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as wines from France and Italy, and a Chilean and Argentinean section that Bruner hopes to expand. The by-the-glass list offers 15 selections.

Burke also heads Restaurant Award winner BLT Prime by David Burke.—J.H.


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