The chef of the beloved C.F. Folks downtown is leaving May 10 â€“ just days after the scrappy, lunch-only American cafĂ© will be honored as one of Americaâ€™s Classics at the James Beard Foundationâ€™s annual awards gala in New York.
â€śI really have to re-evaluate my life,â€ť says George Vetsch, the departing chef. â€śIâ€™m 54. Financially, I have nothing.â€ť Â Among the first items on his agenda include visiting family in his native Switzerland. â€śI havenâ€™t seen them in, like, 15 years, and Iâ€™m the youngest.â€ť
Vetsch, who began at C.F. Folks in 2008, plans to return to Washington this summer and mull his next professional move. In one scenario, heâ€™s the executive chef at a corporation that needs one; in another, heâ€™s the chef-owner of his own bistro.
â€śWeâ€™re going to miss George,â€ť says Art Carlson, the wise-cracking owner and a familiar presence behind the Formica counter at the restaurant, which opened in 1980.
Stepping into the slip of a kitchen is Brian Nance, most recently of the Amphora Catering in Herndon but previously in the employ of Michael Landrum of Rayâ€™s the Steaks and Hell Burger acclaim. Nance is already familiar with the drill at C.F. Folks, however: He worked there for about six years beginning in 2002. Â Even so, he and Vetsch are working side by side for the next two weeks. Carlson figures the time together will give his future chef an idea of what to â€śtemper, change or keepâ€ť at his anti-Potbelly.
Carlson shared his acceptance speech ahead of the prestigious chef and restaurant awards at Lincoln Center May 6. Letâ€™s just say itâ€™s short and sweet and manages to weave in some humor from Emily Dickinson.