Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More Orly's Drama: Celebrity Chef Splits on Shopiro

posted by chicago pop

Celebrity Chef Jen Gavin, formerly of The Big Easy/Orly's*****

We'll get straight to the dish on this one: at a time when many folks have reason to celebrate all things New Orleans, The Big Easy (or Orly's, as it will always be known in our hearts, sort of like the Sears Tower will always be just that) is down one celebrity chef.

Here's what Hungry Hound Steve Dolinsky has to say about the drama on his Adventures in Urban Eating blog:

Less than a month after opening its doors, chef Jennifer Gavin and The Big Easy (not to be confused with Big Easy Cajun at Old Orchard Shopping Mall) have parted ways. Gavin – a former contestant on “Hell’s Kitchen” – had been brought in to help overhaul the new menu and concept in the former JalapeƱo’s/Orly’s space in Hyde Park, on 55th St.

We ate there once a few weeks ago and noticed a definite improvement in the menu, plus an attempt to spruce the place up with a coherent decor and a new coat of paint. But, alas, the curse of Orly's seems to have quickly set in, and now the folks behind the latest Orly's makeover are now kitty-hissing at one another:

“She up and quit on us, right in the middle of the shift on Saturday afternoon,” said owner David Shopiro. “Jennifer, while a good kitchen person, was more into being a celebrity.” Shopiro said the restaurant was pretty busy this past Saturday, and they were expecting a large group from Operation Push to come in around 1 p.m. Gavin had approached him, asking if she could do an exit interview for the Fox TV f0lks at 1 p.m. “She told me it would take a few minutes, so I thought, o.k.,” said Shopiro. Next thing he knows, the kitchen is in the weeds, and the team is clamoring for help. Customers were getting upset that the food was coming out slow. “I went to the office at 1:25 p.m., and it was locked, so I was shaking the door, asking her to get off of the phone, and come out to help,” said Shopiro. “By 1:40 p.m., customers were getting pissed off, so I started pounding on door, telling her to give them your phone number and call them back,” an exasperated Shopiro recounted. Two minutes later, he says, the chef walked out to the kitchen, told her boss he owed her an apology for yelling at her, and left the premises.

OK. So now here's the other side of the story:

For her part, Gavin says “things were getting a little weird, and the situation was not what I had planned on.” She has hired an attorney to assist with her separation from the business.

A little weird. That just about gets it.

****(And for more weirdness, check out Dolinsky's upcoming bit on The Big Easy this Friday (ABC 7, 11 AM) in which he interviews now-departed Gavin.)
*****Photo above sourced at: []


Anonymous said...

And much hilarity ensued.

Can't wait for it to be renamed "Orly's" and see another semi-makeover. They haven't served Lithuanian food yet, maybe Shopiro could try that. Or maybe a combination hot dog stand/tearoom.

TurtleButterSnug said...

Lithuanian BBQ, undoubtedly.

kbsb said...

Orly's should be subject to a government taking so Chicagoans can get a real restaurant at that location.

My wife and I went to Amelias Bar and Grill at 45th and Halsted (that's not a mis-type) in Back of the Yards and found it to be incredibly good (really incredible) and at the most unusual location imaginable. I just shutter to think what that group could have done with Orly's. At any rate, go to Amelias and wonder - "why not in Hyde Park"?

freeweezy said...

Does anyone know who finances this Shopiro, or how an individual can afford to keep this kind of operation going?

Anonymous said...

freeweezy: He makes his money on the catering portion of his business, apparently.

rdb said...

A "little weird" does sum up the whole Orly's thing, so probably no need to say more. But I'm delighted someone mentioned Amelia's. It is outstanding! If you have a car, it's worth the quick drive.

christoph said...

If you know Shopiro you know this is no surprise

J-Man said...

Before you slam the place, try the food. I ate there 3 times since the Big Easy opened and on a scale of 10 the food was TWELVE!! Service was pretty good and nothing wrong with the furnishings. Who cares about the place's history? You gotta do some kind of test about what it used to be? The food is kick ass, the prices are great and you should try the place instead of knocking it.