Matt Hill, the opening day chef de cuisine at Range, has decided to leave the high-concept restaurant that carries the name of one of his closest friends: Bryan Voltaggio. Hill will depart at the conclusion of Restaurant Week on Jan. 19.

The talent drain continues at Bryan Voltaggio's Range with the departure of chef de cuisine Matt Hill. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
The talent drain continues at Range with the departure of chef de cuisine Matt Hill. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

“I was never going to be here forever," Hill says by phone this afternoon, "but it’s always a big move when you leave a restaurant that you opened.”

It's a big move not just because Hill is the latest talent to say goodbye to Range — following departures by Edan MacQuaid, Julien Shapiro and Owen Thomson — but also because Hill and Voltaggio are tight friends. And will always remain so, says Hill.

The chefs met at the Culinary Institute of America in the late 1990s and then worked together at the fine-dining Aureole in New York, where Hill and Voltaggio became students of chef Charlie Palmer. The pair worked together again at Charlie Palmer Steak in the District when Voltaggio asked Hill to help him open the place in 2003. Voltaggio repeated the request when it came time to launch Range in late 2012.

Hill says his farewell is nothing but business: He has future chef gigs lined up in Washington. He can't discuss them at the moment, he says. When asked if the talent drain at Range signals any problems at the restaurant, the chef de cuisine is quick to smack down any rumors.

"Not at all," Hill says, "We had a great initial team, and we still have a great team now."

Voltaggio was not available for comment but sent a statement through his publicist: "Matt is a talented friend, and we wish him the best of luck."

Johnny Miele will continue as chef de cuisine at Range (which had two such positions) while also holding down executive pastry chef duties for all of Voltaggio's restaurants. It's not clear yet whether Voltaggio will replace his friend.