The New York adventure of the famous French chef Jean Imbert did not last very long. After just opening in December, the restaurant Encore, where he was the chef, had to close at the end of the month due to a mysterious “technical problem.” The space reopened at the end of January, but under a different name, The Meatpackers, and with a different menu and French chef at the helm, Michelin-starred Richard Farnabe.
The owner of Encore and Meatpackers, Frenchman Eric Cerato, confirmed that he had “decided to end the collaboration” with Imbert, the winner of the season three of Top Chef in France, because of disputes over “strategy in relation to the American cliental.” The restaurant owner cites a too difficult menu and concept for New York customers to understand as a primary reason for the separation. “I decided to give the control of the kitchen to a chef with more New York experience,” he says.
Originally recruited for another Cerato project — a restaurant in a future New York hotel — Chef Farnabe was awarded two Michelin stars in 2009 for his work at Picholine near Lincoln Center. In New York, he worked alongside French chefs Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. He has also managed the kitchens of several New York hotels and the restaurant Petrossian and was the private chef of designer Tommy Hilfiger, according to his biography.
The Meatpackers describes itself as an “American brasserie” serving meat, vegetables, seafood, and American classics, while Encore wanted to specialize in creative dishes based on local and natural products.