The review of 5 & Diamond that came out today needs a clarification: It turns out that, for the last month or so, Ryan Skeen has been transitioning to a consulting role at the restaurant, while David Santos is taking over as executive chef.
According to both Santos and Skeen, Skeen was the chef to open the restaurant, but Santos was hired as chef de cuisine about two weeks in with the understanding that he would become executive chef when Skeen moved on to other projects. But Santos says that when Skeen’s Empire Diner project fell through, things got complicated.
What Santos and Skeen say, ahead.
It sounds like the restaurant itself was in a state of some confusion over who was playing what role and when, although now both chefs agree that Skeen is transitioning to a consultant — or as Santos puts it, “a friend of the restaurant” — while Santos is taking over as executive chef. The handoff was to take place officially on July 1, but in practice, it’s already happening.
I specifically took the role as chef de cuisine with the understanding that Skeen would step aside and i would take over as executive chef which is expected to officially take place by July first. This process has already started and has been the case the last 2 months basically. A press release and/or formal announcement is forthcoming. I don’t think we expected to get to many critics come in so we didn’t see this as to much of a problem. But the confusion has been extensive at this point.
I opened this restaurant as chef and planned [on] partnering with Lia & Selene, the owners on other projects. We brought David in the first week after we opened to be the Chef de Cuisine and move into the exec chef position, when the owners were comfortable with the situation … this project was designed to highlight the talents of David, at a point. David and I agreed around a month ago I was going to move into more of a consulting role and that the menu should start highlighting his dishes more. Example: David is now working on the summer menu, and at that point most of the menu should be under his influence.
When u dined the menu was still a combination of both our dishes, but I do think what needs to be mentioned is my deep respect for David’s food, and that the hamachi, sepia and pork dishes u loved were Davids creations. I think you know many chefs in this city have taken credit for the dishes of young chefs who worked for them, and that has never been, nor will never be my MO. Currently I am stepping back from the restaurant to allow David to take the reigns and allow his new menu to work itself out.
The upshot is that while the restaurant was still in transition when I ate there, many of the dishes I particularly liked were Santos’ creations. “For all intents and purposes, it’s not Ryan Skeen’s restaurant,” says Santos, adding that he’s been bothered that every outlet, from the Times to Grub Street, has referred to Skeen as the restaurant’s chef, and that the misinformation has not been corrected.
So go try Santos’ food at 5 & Diamond. It’s good. And where will Ryan Skeen land? I’ll let you know when I find out.