Daniel Esses, pictured, had his last night as chef at Marigny Brasserie yesterday. He left citing differences with the owners over the direction of the menu. Esses says he's now looking for new opportunities in the city.
The New York native cooked his way through New Orleans kitchens over the course of eight years, and he had a hand in forming the Savvy Gourmet back in the days when it was an itinerant cooking school.
His first executive chef position came in 2005 when he was hired to open the Bank Café, where a 1920s-era bank lobby in the Marigny was turned into a contemporary Creole restaurant. The Bank reopened for a time after Katrina, but by then Esses had decided to hit the road. Back in New York, he worked at Buddakan NYC, an enormous Manhattan restaurant that gets as much props for its creative Chinese cuisine as it does for its over-the-top scale and decor. Esses moved back to New Orleans early in 2008 and soon took over the kitchen at Marigny Brasserie.
I've always found his cooking sharp, soulful and engaging, so I'm eager to see where he turns up next.
-- Ian McNulty