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A no drama chef change? Downtown restaurant loses its main man, but there is only love all around

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chef Ben McPherson of Batanga holding fish
Ben McPherson will be leaving Batanga at the end of the month to do some consulting and open his own restaurant.  Facebook
Ray Vandergaag former chef of Feast
Ray Vandergaag, second from right, will replace McPherson. Facebook
chef Ben McPherson of Batanga holding fish
Ray Vandergaag former chef of Feast

Chef Ben McPherson will depart Latin American tapas restaurant Batanga at the end of December, but both he and co-owner Brian Fasthoff says the change will be a good one for everyone involved. 

"It's what you want as a restaurateur," Fasthoff tells CultureMap. "To see people who've worked for you realize their dreams, too." He calls McPherson a "great friend and good employee" and predicts he'll be successful in his next endeavor. "I'm excited to see what he's going to do."

Replacing McPherson will be former The Tasting Room/Feast chef Ray Vandergaag, who's already started at the restaurant. Fasthoff says that McPherson is "showing him the ropes" and notes that the restaurant's Sunday evening pig roasts are in good hands.

 "I am not going anywhere. I love my Batanga and adopted Houston family."  

McPherson moved to Houston from Atlanta to help open Batanga and has discovered he really likes the Bayou City.

"I am stepping down to peruse some other consulting projects and to work on getting my own place started," McPherson tells CultureMap. "I was just a consultant at the beginning and fell in love with Houston, so I stuck around. I am not going anywhere. I love my Batanga and adopted Houston family and am very proud of where the restaurant and the city is going." 

Batanga is using its New Year's Eve dinner as a celebration of McPherson's tenure. Expect rare ingredients, live music and, of course, a good time on the restaurant's massive patio. 

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