As Flour + Water's new baby sister restaurant Central Kitchen enters its fourth month of life, its chef de cuisine Michael Gaines left the kitchen for good last week. Having worked at the two-Michelin-starred Manresa prior to his stint here, Gaines brought a fine pedigree to the big project over on 20th Street, but chef-partner Thomas McNaughton says Gaines' eventual departure was always part of the plan. "He and I have been friends for eight years," says McNaughton, "he came on to help us with the opening and now we're helping him get his own project off the ground."
Central Kitchen won't be hiring anyone else into the kitchen right now, and Matt Sigler is still heading up the Salumeria project. How's everything else going? McNaughton says the stabs in Bauer's 2.5 star review stung a little, but industry support has been overwhelming. "I'm just trying to get everyone to relax a little," he adds. "We had way too much hype in the beginning, and it affected us negatively. We're still going to be what we want to be: a lively, boisterous place where people can come hang out."