Junior Borges, who oversaw the kitchen at the modern Brazilian restaurant Meridian and other concepts at The Village Dallas, has left the company. Borges told D Friday it was a mutual decision between both parties. His last day was October 5.
“It was kind of the time,” he said. “Time had run its course.”
He declined to comment further, but said the decision “was beneficial for both parts.” A representative from The Village told D in a statement on Monday that Borges no longer works at the development, where he was vice president of culinary, or Meridian, where he was chef. The restaurant’s executive chef, Justin Mosley, also left the kitchen last month. When Meridian opened in 2021, it was conceived as Borges’ love letter to his Brazilian heritage, and one of the first modern Brazilian restaurants in the United States.
Taking over Borges’ and Mosley’s duties will be Nick Walker, who has worked at The Village for almost two years and whose prior experience includes stints as executive chef at Dallas’ Virgin Hotel, executive chef at The Joule, and chef de cuisine at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek. Morgan Dillon, the vice president of food and beverage at The Village, will oversee front and back-of-house operations, according to the statement.
“It has been an honor to have the opportunity to work alongside a talented chef like Chef Borges,” Walker said Monday in a prepared statement. “As I take on the day-to-day operations, I am looking forward to further immersing myself in the Meridian team and continuing our vision.”
It’s not clear what Borges’ next steps are, but he says he wants to stay in Dallas and is open to opportunities. He wrote in a Friday afternoon Instagram post “I hope I get to cook Modern Brazilian Cuisine again some day.”
Meridian is one of the city’s best restaurants. Meals are famous for luxurious bread courses, wood-fired proteins, and Brazilian flavors such as the moqueca, a coconut broth stew poured around the likes of charred prawns and grilled fish.
When it opened, Meridian made The Village into a regional fine dining destination. Former D Magazine dining critic Eve Hill-Angus wrote that Borges allowed his career and influences to “weave into a tapestry in the same way Brazilian cuisine is a tapestry.” In 2023, Borges was named a national James Beard semifinalist for Outstanding Chef.
“It was amazing to have done that,” Borges said Friday of his time at Meridian. “I thank the Village and the ownership for allowing me to do this concept. But like I said, the time has come.”
Borges’ sudden departure is a concern for the future of Meridian, and it’s telling of the state of The Village. Earlier this year, Meridian flip-flopped from an à la carte menu to a fixed-price menu format and back again, while also adding a tasting menu. Turnover in Village executive leadership has also been high, sources have told dining critic Brian Reinhart. Another Village restaurant, La Mina, recently closed and reopened as a lounge with tequila flights and live DJs.
Whether a culinary love letter to Brazil makes sense without its Brazilian chef remains to be seen.