Major Chef Change

One of the fall's hottest restaurants loses rising star chef; he wishes his successor well

Rising star chef leaves trendy restaurant, wishes successor well

Justin Basye, right, has left Museum Park Cafe. Pastry chef Chris Leung, left, remains. Photo by © Julie Soefer
Chef Jason White Museum Park Cafe head shot December 2014
Basye's sous chef Jason White will assume the role of executive chef.  Photo courtesy of BALCOR Hospitality
Chef Jason White Museum Park Cafe head shot December 2014

One of the fall's hottest new restaurants has lost its rising star chef. Justin Basye has departed Museum Park Cafe. A statement from the restaurant reads as follows: 

BALCOR Hospitality announces the departure of Justin Basye and the promotion of current sous chef Jason White to the executive chef position. In this role, White, who was most recently the sous chef at Oxheart and previously at Revival Market, will oversee the culinary program at both Museum Park Café and Bosta. Basye has helmed Museum Park Cafe's kitchen since its opening in September, contributing significantly to the restaurant’s success. We wish him the very best in his future pursuits. At the same time, we feel we are very fortunate to have a young talent like Jason, who has been a part of this team since pre-opening, to step into this role and excited to see a continual evolution of the menu.

In a statement to CultureMap, Basye declined to comment on the reasons for his decision or his future plans, but did offer kind words for his successor. "I would like to thank BALCOR Hospitality, especially Christopher Balat and Chris Leung, for the past year. I am very proud of both Bosta and MPC. I have complete faith that Jason White, a long time colleague and friend, will make Museum Park Cafe a dining destination for years to come," he writes.

Despite the congenial tone of both parties, Basye's decision is a shocking change of direction for MPC. Back in April, Balat touted Basye's expertise as the reason he hired the chef for both MPC and sister concept Bosta Wine and Coffee. "I always appreciated Justin's food. I'll never forget the dishes he made (at Stella Sola)," Balat said at the time.

In the same interview, Basye called the job "an opportunity I didn't want to miss." It's unclear what about the opportunity changed between then and now.

Basye came to Museum Park with impressive credentials, including a James Beard Award rising star chef nomination for his work at Bryan Caswell's Italian-inspired Stella Sola and a successful stint on the research and development team for Pappas Restaurants. Despite the challenges associated with building a restaurant from scratch in the underserved Museum District, MPC had emerged as one of the year's best new restaurants. 

Both his future and that of the restaurant are up in the air, but count on Basye to land on his feet quickly. Whether White can maintain MPC's reputation remains to be seen, but, having worked at Oxheart prior to joining Basye's team, his resume suggests he's up to the challenge.