In a chef shuffle of epic proportions, today James Beard Award-winning chef Gabrielle Hamilton revealed her plans to partner with disgraced restaurateur Ken Friedman on the Spotted Pig, filling the void left in the wake of chef April Bloomfield’s departure.
Hamilton, whose essential New York City restaurant Prune is fast approaching its 20-year anniversary, is known as an accomplished memoirist and cookbook author. She also starred in the hit television series The Mind of a Chef.
The circumstances around the new partnership, first reported by the New York Times, are fraught. Bloomfield’s split with Friedman came in the wake of an explosive NYT report revealing a rampant culture of sexual misconduct in the restaurants Friedman and Bloomfield ran together. According to the report, Friedman allegedly subjected employees to unwanted sexual advances and engaged in public groping; Bloomfield, according to some employees, allegedly ignored or dismissed complaints, a claim that she denies.
At the Spotted Pig, employees reportedly nicknamed the restaurant’s private third floor the “rape room.” Notably, chef/restaurant owner and Spotted Pig investor Mario Batali — himself facing serious allegations of sexual harassment — allegedly assaulted an unconscious woman during an afterparty at the Spotted Pig, a charge for which he is now facing criminal investigation.
Hamilton told the New York Times that she sees the new role as an opportunity to clean up the mess Friedman made:
“Everyone gets so excited when José Andrés goes into these natural disasters and helps people,” Ms. Hamilton said, referring to the Spanish-American chef who received praise for his relief efforts in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria last fall. “They ought to be happy that these two women are going into a man-made disaster to help make things right.”
Although Hamilton and Friedman do not yet have an official deal, Hamilton says “we’re going to make one” that would make her chef-owner of the Spotted Pig.
News of Hamilton’s partnership with Friedman will surely shock industry insiders who know Hamilton for both her no-bullshit public persona and her history of hiring and promoting women within her kitchen at Prune, which she currently runs with her wife, chef Ashley Merriman. Merriman will reportedly be a co-owner and co-chef at the Spotted Pig, as well.
Eater has reached out to Hamilton for comment. Stay tuned for updates.
UPDATE June 13 5:30pm EST: Gabrielle Hamilton sent a full statement to Eater, in which she says “We are excited and deeply invested in being at the leading edge of the much-needed paradigm shift in the industry.” Read her full statement here.
• Gabrielle Hamilton Plans to Partner With Ken Friedman to Run the Spotted Pig [NYT]
• How April Bloomfield Is Splitting From Ken Friedman [E]