Matt Fortner, the chef who garnered much admiration while running the kitchen at Ethan Stowell’s How to Cook a Wolf, has a new gig. Fortner, last seen in the kitchen at Blind Pig Bistro and, uh, here, joined Tom Douglas Restaurants about six weeks ago, to be an executive sous chef for the realm of T-Doug.
Eric Tanaka, the executive chef for TDR, broke down what exactly this means, providing a fascinating restaurant-geek glimpse into the Douglas organizational structure. Hey, you don’t get a James Beard Award for being an outstanding restaurateur by not being all upon your various establishments (or "properties" in T-Doug parlance).
Right now Fortner is training up, spending a few weeks at every property in the Douglas constellation (well, technically he will only work in one of the Serious Pie locations). Once he is well versed in all things Douglas, Fortner will continue making the rounds of restaurants, jumping in to correct issues or improve specific elements, or to make sure things like kitchen training and menu development are rolling along smoothly.
TDR has six “rovers,” says Tanaka, three who oversee front-of-house matters, and three who handle the kitchen side of things. And of course, this team comes in awfully handy when it comes time to open a new restaurant. For Douglas’s upcoming falafel shop (let’s call it Serious Falafel for now), Tanaka says two front-of-house and two back-of-house rovers might spend two months, or longer, helping get the Paramount Theatre–adjacent cafe off to a smooth start.
While the Tom Douglas and Ethan Stowell domains don’t see much crossover, Fortner should be decently familiar with all things TDR; his wife Stacy is the head pastry chef for the company.