Chefs on the Move: What’s the Next Step for These Culinary Masterminds?

A chef is a true artist. Their palette is a plate. Their brush is a knife and their paint is an array of delectable ingredients.

A professional chef is always perfecting their craft, so it’s not uncommon that a culinary mastermind will move to a new restaurant, or even set up their own one.

Often, they are looking for a new challenge or are relocating to a new fabulous city. Nonetheless, there has been a lot of movement recently by some of the best chefs in the nation.

So, let’s take a look who is on the move and why.

David Bazirgan, the East Coast is Where his Heart is

David Bazirgan |

David Bazirgan |

After making a name for himself on the west coast, Bazirgan is packing up and moving back home to the east coast, specifically Boston.

He was the executive chef at San Francisco’s Dirty Habit, formerly known as the Fifth Floor. The San Francisco Chronicle gave the restaurant three and a half stars. Dirty Habit has a sultry atmosphere with New American cuisine and creative hand-crafted cocktails. The menu features dishes like the wagyu beef tartare with red curry and fried shallots, and the cauliflower risotto with white truffle butter, leeks and pecans.

But, Bazirgan is moving on to the Boston culinary scene. He will be making his triumphant return by cooking beside chef Louis DiBiccari at Tavern Road Chef Studio. The dinner has the fitting theme of coast to coast, where the east coast and former west coast chef can show off their specialties.

David Bazirgan started his culinary career as a dish washer in his hometown of Newburyport, Massachusetts. He then studied French technique at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in Boston.

After spending some time working at different Boston restaurants, he met Barbara Lynch, chef and restaurateur who was the second woman to receive a James Beard Foundation award. Lynch became his mentor and together they crafted the seven and nine-course tasting menus for Boston’s acclaimed restaurant No. 9 Park.

He decided to relocate to the bay area, where he was the executive chef for Chez Papa Resto, Baraka, and Elisabeth Daniel before helming at the Dirty Habit.

But, it’s time for a new adventure in a familiar place. “The move is really family driven—all my family is back there,” said Bazirgan to the San Francisco Chronicle about his move. “I’ll miss so many things. Being a chef out here is just amazing: The culture, the produce, the weather, the weather.” 

His last day at the Dirty Habit is June 24th.

Zak Pelaccio Returns to his Roots with a New Malaysian Inspired Restaurant

Zak Pelaccio |

Zak Pelaccio |

Pelaccio has been known for his Malaysian flavors for his talents as the previous executive chef at Fatty Crab and now he will be cooking up that style of culinary cuisine yet again.

Ever since 2011, he has been at the upscale and James Beard Award-winning restaurant, Upstate New York Fish & Game. This former blacksmith’s shop was renovated to an eatery with a seasonal menu featuring farm-to-table, New American Fare.

However, his latest project will be more more casual with everything on the menu below $20. Along with Fish & Game’s co-chef Kevin Pomplun, their cocktail bar BackBar will be serving Malaysian food for lunch and dinner.

Pelaccio is excited to return to his roots. “I always liked cooking that food,” said Pelaccio to the New York Times. “But I thought it would be in poor taste for me to depart from the organization and then open up a shop that was somewhat similar.”

The Hudson restaurant will be called Bakar at Backbar with dishes such as, the asparagus omelet, curried crab and fish chowder and spicy lamb salad with pork shoulder.

“This is for locals,” said Pelaccioto to the New York Times. “We need a place where people can come and eat lunch for a reasonable price. This has a vibe where it’s sort of easy. It’s not so buttoned up. This could be by the beach.”

Pelaccio also said he is hoping to offer the menu starting on June 21st.

Brian Mercury, Jumps Ship from Harvest to Oak + Rowan

Brian Mercury |  David Salafia

Brian Mercury | David Salafia

We have another chef making a move in the Boston area. The award-winning pastry chef Brian Mercury will be leaving Harvest, a restaurant in Cambridge known for its contemporary New England seasonal menu, to Oak + Rowan, the latest restaurant by the Caswell Restaurant Group.

This is the third restaurant by the group and Justin Shoults will be moving from Brine, another concept by the group to be the executive chef. While, Mercury will be joining the team as the executive pastry chef.

Mercury, native of Rochester, NY has been in the Boston area for over a decade. He previously worked for Peter Davis, executive chef at The Charles Hotel and two renowned pastry chefs, executive pastry chef Dan Angelopolus and Rialto’s executive pastry chef Susan Abbot.

His next venture is across the river and is projected to open late this summer.

The dessert menu will feature dishes like the carrot tiramisu with carrot ice cream, house yogurt, and chicory; peach rosemary kouign-amann with brown butter, bourbon, and vanilla; and the bittersweet chocolate crème with plum, buttermilk, and hazelnut, according to a press release about the new restaurant.

"I want that modern New England feel on the menu, taking inspiration from the diverse cultures in Boston," said Mercury in a press release.

The culinary scene is bound to heat up with chef Bazirgan, Pelaccio and Mercury all on the move!