When one chef leaves, another steps in to take his or her place, bringing his or her experience, enterprise, and general tenor to the venue. There's been some diversification in the top brass department across the Memphis restaurant landscape of late. Here's a round-up of some of the changes, from institutions old and new to new(er) kids on the block.
Max Hussey has cooked Cajun cuisine at Emeril's New Orleans and barbecue in San Francisco (where he won a Top 30 BBQ Restaurants in the Country designation) and even studied Indian cuisine under an Awa (grandmother).
He was imported to Memphis in 2015 to steer the ship at eighty3 in the Madison Hotel but found himself restless enough to make the transition to what he heard was the legendary Folk's Folly. Eventually.
"When the position first opened [at Folk's Folly], I balked," Hussey says. "I felt like I still had work to do at the Madison."
- Moving on up — Max Hussey is the executive chef at Folk’s Folly.
The second time he had the chance, though, he definitely jumped.
"They've had servers working there for 36 years and line cooks for 22," he says. "Nobody has that kind of longevity in the restaurant industry. There must be something to it."
He's been able to do things like make watermelon or pumpkin caviar as a garnish or add black cardamom to the collard greens.
"I do love being creative," he says. "I enjoy bringing new techniques and products and different styles to the weekly specials."
Dave Krog made a return to Interim, but this time a bit further up in the kitchen hierarchy. He started out as sous chef at the sleek and elegant eatery, leaving in the fall of 2015 for the Terrace at River Inn. He's been executive chef at the nine-year-old restaurant — which takes its name from serving as an interim restaurant after Wally Joe closed shop in the space in 2007 and Jackson Kramer took the helm — since this spring.
Since taking over, Krog has started his own wine dinner, getting to play with limited-release products from local vendors once a month and serving the specialities to 16 lucky gastronomes in the restaurant's private dining room.
"I did that immediately," Krog says. "It offers a challenge to me and the staff, and I get a chance to serve something you can't get at every restaurant."
His goals are to "continue to elevate the food in the building" with "the best kitchen in town" and keep his vendors as close to home as possible.
Speaking of Interim. Kramer left the space on Sanderlin in 2014 to open Bounty on Broad. More recently, he left Memphis to pursue his culinary dreams in the PNW and while at it, leaving a chance for Russell Casey to put his spin on the entirely gluten-free restaurant.
In addition to adding patio seating, Saturday brunch, and a bar menu, Casey has put a duck duo on the menu, with seared duck breast, confit leg, and homemade sweet potato pudding. They're unveiling their new menu this week, and soon will be baking their own gluten-free bread, which will add more choices to the brunch items.
"Russ was available, and the owner was connected to him, so it was kind of serendipitous," Bounty manager Severin Allgood says.