A little birdie tipped us off last week that Mike Sabin, whom most people think of as the head chef at Prime One Twelve, had left the kitchen to work at some burger joint in Virginia (Oh -- you didn't know about that place, either?). As it turns out, Sabin has sort of left the kitchen at P112. Just not entirely. We'll explain.
In an effort to verify his departure, we e-mailed P112's owner, Myles Chefetz, who quickly responded the that the rumor was "absolutely not true." Yet after Nemo was shuttered, despite gossip -- and published magazine articles -- indicating it was getting a second chance at life under the moniker Prime Fish, we started to wonder if there's trouble in paradise over at Myles Restaurant Group and we kept digging.
You may recall New Times labeled Chefetz Best Restaurateur earlier this year, but now two of his five popular eateries (Shoji Sushi being the second) are closed. Inquiring minds wanted to know wassup.
Then we got a voicemail from Sabin:
"I'm in New York right now working on some consulting. Still with Prime One Twelve."
Hmm. Once we finally got to chat with the chef directly, he explained while it is true he is spending less time over at P112 nowadays, that is partly because he is doing restaurant consulting work in New York. (Though, he wouldn't comment who he was working for.)
He also plays a somewhat active role with Jack Brown's Burger & Beer Joint, a Virginia-based eatery he co-owns with a close childhood buddy. (Yes, fried Oreos do appear on the menu, along with a vile-sounding Elvis hamburger topped with peanut butter, mayo, smoked bacon, and cheese. Egads.) Sabin claims folks may occasionally see him behind the line at J.B.'s, but not much.
"My days off [in Miami] I was up there," he admitted. "I had to make sure the burgers are cooked right."
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As for the P112 kitchen, Sabin swears he is "in constant communication" with his kitchen staff, which is under the command of a chef Sabin has worked with for 12 years. "Todd [Zimmer] is great," he promises. "Nobody's going to see any change."
To further drive the rumor denials home, Sabin -- whose business card really reads "corporate chef for Myles Restaurant Group" -- asserted: 1) Big Pink's menu will be updated soon, offering a better selection (the phrase "soul food" was slung around more than once); 2) Prime Italian will be introducing weekend brunch items; and 3) P112 will soon be opening seven days a week.
He also says we can anticipate some big news about the vacant Nemo space in a month or two. We have an idea what's going on in that pricey piece of real estate but don't expect us Short Order folks to tell. We aren't much into rumors.