We hate to be the bearer of bad news, Changians, but Restaurantarama broke some upsetting news last week: Taste of China chef Peter Chang is out of the kitchen. In fact, he may be getting ready to leave our little hamlet altogether. Seems Chang cracked under the pressure faster than his tasty scallion bubble pancakes. Says his close personal friend Gen Lee, business at the acclaimed restaurant was overwhelming. “The restaurant is too small,” Lee says. “It was doing triple the business it could.” Consequently, Chang was afraid the quality of service and food was lacking. “He doesn’t want to ruin his reputation,” Lee says.
Don’t bother looking here for Peter Chang. The elusive celebrity chef has slipped away.
Indeed, Restaurantarama noted a few weeks ago that the Albemarle Square restaurant was getting busier and busier. The eatery had even posted an ad on Craigslist for Mandarin-speaking waitstaff. No doubt from all the publicity—Calvin Trillin’s article in The New Yorker and Todd Kliman’s in Oxford American—Changians were traveling miles to get a bite of the chef’s authentic Chinese. What’s more, Restaurantarama spoke to a Taste of China employee, who confirmed that the restaurant had been shutting its doors early to ensure enough time to serve dinner to patrons.
Lee says Chang’s last day in the kitchen was Saturday, March 20. Which means, you’ll have to find his spicy hot pots elsewhere.
As Restaurantarama reported last week, Barboursville Vineyards’ Palladio Restaurant will welcome to its kitchen Chef Patrick O’Connell from The Inn at Little Washington on April 10. A portion of his four-course meal will go to the James Beard Foundation.
With other guest chef engagements on Palladio’s calendar, is this the mark of a new initiative?
Says Palladio Chef Melissa Close, the restaurant hosts about eight guest chefs a year. “It’s a tradition that started before Palladio even existed,” she says. When Barboursville winemaker Luca Paschina would introduce a new wine, he’d invite a guest chef to cook a celebratory dinner. After the restaurant opened, the tradition continued.
This year, from April through November, you can expect Frank Stitt from Bottega Restaurant in Alabama, Daniel Giusti from 1789 Restaurant of Washington, D.C., among others.
Last December, Restaurantarama reported that Monsoon, the family-run Thai restaurant at Market and Second streets, was for sale—almost. While owner Lu-Mei Chang said she would be happy to sell it, there’s not exactly a “For Sale” sign in the front yard. But, when we called the number for the retail spaces she also owns, the message said the restaurant is available for lease at $2,500 per month.
Chang says the $2,500 price tag is for use of the space. The restaurant is also for sale for $100,000, which includes everything in the kitchen, dining room (and outdoor!) tables and chairs.