Carol beat me to the confirmation but I’d already written this post so here goes.
I’ve had my suspicions about Valentine’s actual role in the kitchen at FT33 since it opened. I’ve been to the restaurant five times and have never witnessed him performing the duties of a pastry chef. Valentine was either expediting or assisting head honcho Matt McCallister. My gut reaction has always been Valentine was marking time at FT33 while he appeared on Top Chef. His weekly appearance on national TV translated into good publicity for a new restaurant. I have written before: I find it fascinating that McCallister has gained much of his fame through social media. Matt and Iris McCallister are smart marketers and behind their good looks and talent is a serious dedication to running a business.
In late February, McCallister released Ryan Tedder, general manager and sommelier, from his duties. Word on the street is that the McCallisters wanted a more “corporate manager” and Tedder was too much of a free spirit. (That is probably why I loved the wine list he put together.) Last week, McCallister replaced opening chef de cuisine Brady Williams with Bradford Hodgkins, his old buddy at Stephan Pyles.
All new restaurants go through tweaking of personnel. Some readers think the kitchen is falling apart but I don’t agree. FT33 was a hit before they opened the doors and they are achieving national recognition before they are six months old. I’m sure McCallister and crew have had to make some tough decisions. They are hell-bent on glory and I have a feeling McCallister will need to be out of the kitchen in the next few months. Like June 14-16.
For the record: I’ve contacted McCallister, Valentine, and Hodgkins for comment.