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Enzo Fargione hires a former Chef Geoff’s toque to run the Osteria Elisir kitchen

Following the messy departure last month of Osteria Elisir's chef de cuisine and general manager, the modernist-minded Enzo Fargione has found his next kitchen leader in an unexpected place: the downtown location of Chef Geoff's, part of the family-friendly American chain owned by Geoff Tracy.

Tom Crenshaw, a Midwesterner who served as executive chef at Chef Geoff's, will now become chef de cuisine at Osteria Elisir. Fargione acknowledges that Crenshaw is an unconventional choice in that the new hire is not deeply rooted in regional Italian cuisine, which Fargione occasionally manipulated into modernist works of art at the original Elisir (which later morphed into the more informal Osteria).

Fargione likes Crenshaw's experience not only at Chef Geoff's but also with Capital Restaurant Concepts (where he was executive chef at Georgia Brown's and Paolo's). Fargione says Crenshaw is used to high-volume and high-pressure kitchens; his organizational skills are excellent. Crenshaw also has the culinary chops, Fargione notes, and the Elisir owner plans to teach Crenshaw what he doesn't yet know about Italian cooking.

"He started this week and he's familiarizing with our concept," Fargione says. It's a "race against time for Tom who is eager to learn and to dive into this new venture."

Why the race against time? Osteria Elisir plans to change to its fall and winter menus in 10 days.