COURTESY LEBLANC + SMITH
Chef Kristen Essig is leaving her post as executive chef at restaurants Meauxbar and Cavan.
Kristen Essig is leaving her post as executive chef at both Meauxbar and the recently opened Cavan, the restaurant group said Wednesday (Mar. 30).
Robert LeBlanc, who founded the LeBlanc + Smith restaurant group, made the announcement to the company’s employees in an open letter, according to a release from the group.
“Kristen’s talent and professional input have played an integral role in creating the unique experiences at Meauxbar and Cavan,” LeBlanc said in the statement. “Alongside Sylvain and Barrel Proof, Meauxbar and Cavan help to create a hospitality portfolio of which I’m extremely proud, and she has had a tremendous impact on that. This decision was truly a mutual and amicable one made with the utmost respect and professionalism. We have incredible talent in place at Meauxbar and Cavan and I am very confident that this transition will be seamless. While I will very much miss working with Kristen, I know that this move is the best move for everyone and we are in a very strong position from which to move forward.”
A statement from Essig provided by the group called her work experience with LeBlanc + Smith “an honor.” “We have something very special within our group and it is that feeling that leaves me confident that not only will the restaurants continue to succeed, but that they will thrive with my departure,” Essig said in the statement. “While I may not know exactly what I’m leaving to do or explore, I am most confident in the people that will continue our hospitality vision. While I’ve been the executive chef of Meauxbar and Cavan, I have only strengthened my personal visions for what true hospitality is.”
No further explanation to what prompted Essig’s departure was given.
The company’s latest venture, the coastal-themed Garden District restaurant Cavan, opened just last month with Essig at the helm. Cavan’s chef de cuisine Ben Thibodeaux will take over as executive chef, the company said. At French Quarter bistro Meauxbar, which reopened under LeBlanc +Smith’s ownership in 2014, sous chef John Bel will take over Essig’s position. Essig joined the LeBlanc + Smith team as executive chef at the CBD gastropub Ste. Marie, which shuttered in 2014, shortly before the team moved over to the Meauxbar space.
Little Bird, the southern-inspired small plates pop-up at whiskey bar Barrel Proof (also a LeBlanc + Smith property) will continue to run under Essig and her partner, Coquette chef Michael Stoltzfus.