Verbena, the Russian Hill restaurant that was one of last year's biggest stars, is losing its acclaimed chef, Sean Baker. As Inside Scoop reports, Baker is going to be transitioning out of the Verbena kitchen between now and March, with plans to pursue something new. Both Baker and his partners in Verbena, Eric Fenster and Ari Derfel, refused to comment on the split, but it's definitely a major moment for both Verbena and sister restaurant Gather, where Baker made his name (and whose kitchen is now run by his former chef de cuisine, Charis Wahl).
Baker earned national press at both Gather and Verbena, including Chef of the Year honors from Esquire in 2010, StarChefs Rising Star Chef status, and Cooking Light's Trailblazing Chef prize. Before joining Gather, he cooked at Millennium and the tasting room at Bonny Doon Vineyards, and was particularly acclaimed for his skill with crafting vegan and vegetarian dishes. The Verbena team is currently on the hunt for another chef; Baker has yet to announce his next move.