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Former “Broadway East” Chef Tells His Side

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Cq101_GavinMills_s4x3_tz A few weeks ago we linked to a "Grub Street" item about the departure of chef Gavin Mills from "Broadway East." It turns out Mills was not at all pleased with the way the restaurant's managing partner, Laurie Tomasino, characterized his departure. 

“Gavin is a great chef, but he’s at a stage of his career where he
wants to make a mark — say, from a three-star review — but he didn’t
have the experience or business savvy to know there was a serious
disconnect between the food and the scene.” Tomasino says the
restaurant wanted Mills to change the menu more often — “We weren’t
asking him to dumb down the food but to broaden his horizons and bring
new, affordable ideas to the table in an effort to reach the
neighborhood.” She says she’s currently looking for a great chef who’ll
appreciate the venue’s melding of art, music, and food (maybe Don Pasta?).

Then, several days ago, there was this rather strongly worded rebuttal (read it in full here) left in our comments section:

"…that's bs. Broadway East has had 6 chefs, the first of which left
before the restaurant opened… when he put his notice in, he was not asked to leave in
any way, his entire kitchen staff including the assistant manager left
too. Broadway East is a sinking ship that is being run by people who
have absolutely no clue about the restaurant industry."

Turns out, the author was Mills' wife. We contacted Gavin, who's relocated to California, for a fuller explanation. He was fairly circumspect but did not take too kindly to the suggestion that he lacked "experience or business savvy." Mills said he was lured from the highly regarded "Mas Farmhouse," in the West Village, with the promise that he would have the freedom to create a "farm fresh," inventive menu. He was asked to change the menu more than once, and he was open to that. But Mills says he was commited to the idea of "fine dining" and balked at the suggestion from the owners that he serve up "pizzas and banana splits."

We also discussed the restaurant's struggle to balance its status as a hot nightlife destination, while also appealing to people in the neighborhood. Broadway East's owners apparently concluded the food and the prices were too "high end" for, what Mills called, "the deep Lower East Side."  He's now searching for a new job in California. He's only been looking for a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, as Grub Street reported, Broadway East continues to look for a new chef. Patricia Yeo (formerly of Sapa and Monkey Bar) is helping out in the interim.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. a couple of comments/questions here … re. an article from yesterday’s food section,about broadway east restaurant.
    part of your mission statement posted on your home page is that you “cover issues & events important to the people who live” in the LES.well,i live here,and to me it would seem more important to support new businesses here trying to serve the community.how are you doing that,in this case ? you are repeating pretty mean-spirited ‘gossip’ from the wife of a gisgruntled,former employee,who happens to have relocated to california ! and you think this serves my community ? i don’t ….
    my other question is,why is this article,this gossip passed of as journalism,done anonymously ? who are
    you ????

  2. If you’ve read our blog before, you know that we have done many stories highlighting (in a positive way) businesses, non-profits and the arts in the neighborhood. We also detail what’s being said about the LES by other blogs and news entities. In this case, New York Magazine had reported the departure of a chef from a high profile restaurant. The management of Broadway East chose to say things about Gavin Mills that he found offensive. We felt it was only fair to give Gavin the chance to respond. As for your other question, my name is listed at the end of the post. It wasn’t “anonymous” in any way.

  3. I am a foody and have eaten at Broadway East while Mr. Mills was the executive chef, it was wonderful. I have been in management for almost 40 years. I am shocked that no one is pointing out some very glaring points. First: The executive Chef position of Broadway East has been a revolving door, 6 Exec Chefs since it has opened. Second: You interviewed and reported only one side of the story and printed it without getting all the facts. Three: The general manager spoke openly to the press about a former employee. Doesn’t anyone find that bizarre that the general manager who is unable to keep an executive chef and speaks to a reporter about an employee is still employed? There are always at least two sides to every story, obviously we will never know all the facts, certainly not from this forum. But here is the best point in all of this, bad publicity is better than no publicity. This blog is free and is seen all over the English speaking world. Chef Mills will come out of this nonsense just fine, Broadway East however, needs to hire a management consultant and probably a lawyer.

  4. Hi Jo,
    Thank you for your comment. You make some good points.
    We decided to post this story because it was important to give Gavin Mills the opportunity to respond to what had previously been said about him by Broadway East’s managing partner. A month ago, we posted a brief item about his departure from the restaurant, sourcing (and linking to) New York Magazine’s food blog, Grub Street. Then, several days ago, Gavin’s wife commented about the item (Gavin also left a comment on NYM’s message board). At that point, we felt it was necessary to contact Gavin directly, specifically because we wanted both sides represented.
    I agree with you- there’s obviously a lot we don’t know about the situation. Yes, we could have gone back to Broadway East, asking them to respond to Gavin’s response. We also could have contacted former employees for their perspectives. But then what we would have had is a giant, never-ending “pissing match” that definitely would have been juicy but not necessarily enlightening.
    Is there a broader story to be done about Broadway East’s efforts to find the right formula in the neighborhood? Absolutely. If their management agrees to talk with us, it’s a story we will do.
    Although most of our content is based on original reporting, we do (like most blogs) “aggregate” content from other sources. News organizations and blogs everywhere are grappling with how to balance these two things responsibly. In today’s free-flowing media ecosystem, ignoring outside content isn’t really an option. We think it makes sense to tell our readers what other entities are saying about the neighborhood. But in the future we intend to be more vigilant about evaluating that content — and seeking out “the other side” when appropriate.
    We hope you will continue reading and telling us when you believe we’ve fallen down in the pursuit of both sides.

Comments are closed.

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