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Momofuku Taps Paul Carmichael for a Restaurant and a New Direction

Momofuku Taps Paul Carmichael for a Restaurant and a New Direction


In 2015, at the back of Star Casino in Sydney, Australia, Paul Carmichael started one thing extraordinary. As the brand new chef at Momofuku Seiobo, the primary of David Chang’s Momofuku eating places outdoors the United States, Mr. Carmichael turned what had been a fine-dining venue with European, American and Asian influences right into a bastion of considerate Caribbean cooking. Waiters sporting tie-dyed shirts served a tasting menu that included cou-cou with caviar, and beef patties filled with bone marrow and abalone.

It was an unlikely convergence of time, place and expertise: a Barbados-born chef at an American-owned restaurant making world-class Caribbean meals in Australia. In a on line casino. But one thing about Mr. Carmichael, the group he constructed and the Momofuku model conjured magic. Seiobo was named Restaurant of the Year in 2016 by Gourmet Traveller journal. Mr. Carmichael was additionally the journal’s Chef of the Year in 2020, and the restaurant obtained glowing critiques in native, nationwide and worldwide publications.

Australian meals obsessives have been dismayed when, in 2021, Momofuku and Mr. Chang determined to not renew a lease with Star Casino. Seiobo closed, and Mr. Carmichael stayed on with Star as an govt sous-chef overseeing operations of the on line casino’s meals venues.

Now he’s headed to New York City, the place the Momofuku firm has tapped Mr. Carmichael to play a key position in overseeing restaurant operations companywide. He’ll begin with a brand new restaurant within the East Village area that housed Momofuku Ko till final October.

“There are solely two causes to open a brand new restaurant,” stated the corporate’s chief govt, Marguerite Zabar Mariscal, noting that Momofuku has not opened something for the reason that pandemic started. “One is having a extremely nice idea. The different, which is far rarer, is a expertise like Paul which you can construct round.”

Mr. Carmichael will “be instrumental in shaping the following technology of cooks at Momofuku,” Mr. Chang stated this week by electronic mail. “Having him again within the States means extra than simply being nearer to Paul’s meals; we wish him to construct a legacy by mentorship.”

Before Mr. Carmichael’s time in Australia, he labored for Momofuku because the chef at Má Pêche in Manhattan. In Barbados, he knew as a young person that he wished a profession in cooking and moved to New York in 1998 to attend the Culinary Institute of America. He went on to work with the cooks Marcus Samuelsson, Wylie Dufresne and finally Mr. Chang.

Plans for the brand new restaurant are nonetheless unfastened. It might or might not open this yr. It has no title but. The meals will probably be Caribbean, however precisely what type that may take remains to be in flux.

“I need to create one thing extraordinarily enjoyable, one thing consultant of the West Indies and one thing super-tasty,” Mr. Carmichael stated this week by cellphone from Japan, the place he’s doing a little occasions forward of his mid-June transfer to New York. “The precise idea goes to return primarily based on what we are able to and may’t do within the area.”

Ms. Mariscal stated there had been a lot dialogue about how Momofuku, which turns 20 this yr, ought to transfer ahead.

“Dave is concerned within the firm at a excessive stage, however not daily within the eating places,” she stated. Her hope is that Mr. Carmichael will probably be integral to shaping the following 20 years at Momofuku.

For Mr. Carmichael, the return to New York will probably be bittersweet. “I really like Australia, Australia is my second house,” he stated. But regardless of the accolades Momofuku Seiobo obtained underneath his path, alternatives in Sydney for initiatives that felt true to his ambitions have been scarce and fraught, he stated. After Seiobo closed, his job at Star Casino was extra administrative than artistic. Mr. Carmichael’s meals was seen solely sometimes at occasions round Australia; his dinners on the Melbourne Food and Wine competition bought out simply, however he has not run his personal kitchen since Seiobo.

Seiobo was the primary in a sequence of closings within the Momofuku empire, which at one level had 13 eating places however has shuttered all however 4 of its properties in recent times, together with Momofuku CCDC in Washington, D.C., and Momofuku Nishi and the relocated Ssam Bar in New York City.

Mr. Chang stated he’s assured that the brand new restaurant will probably be simply as distinctive as Seiobo. “If you ask many cooks, I do know who they’d wish to prepare dinner their final meal, they’d say Paul,” he stated. “He’s among the finest cooks on the earth.”

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