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From Plonk to the Pacific Northwest, big changes for Erin Smith and Oak Forest's signature restaurant

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Lindsey Vanarsdel is the new executive chef at Plonk. Courtesy of Plonk Bistro
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Erin Smith in the kitchen at Plonk Bistro Courtesy of Erin Smith/Facebook
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Considering how quickly most chefs move between restaurants, it's been a relative eternity since Erin Smith and Plonk Bistro put Oak Forest/Garden Oaks dining on the map in 2009.

So it's with sadness, but not surprise, that we learned that Smith is leaving the restaurant next month, with her last service on Oct. 13.

According to an email announcement from Plonk (first reported by Eater), Smith will head to the Pacific Northwest for a while — "a long-time source of inspiration for her because of its culinary focus on using what nature provides" — before returning to the Houston restaurant and farmers market scene.

Smith is part of a crop of talented local chefs to graduate from Memorial High School (Oxheart's Justin Yu, Grant Gordon of Tony's and Kevin Naderi of Roost are among the others), but her experience before Plonk included a stint at Thomas Keller's legendary Per Se in New York.

"This has been an amazing ride and I can't believe it's almost over," Smith wrote about her departure on Facebook. "The time has come to pass the reigns of the kitchen over and I'm very excited for Plonk and myself as we explore what the future holds. Thank you for all the support!"

Stepping into Smith's executive chef shoes is Lindsey Vanarsdel, a graduate of LeCordon Bleu in Austin and a former executive sous chef at Plonk with stints at Textile, Triniti and Haven.

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