Blue Catfight? | Food News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Blue Catfight? 

Side Dishes: Clearing up the chef confusion

Published September 5, 2007 at 4:00 a.m.

Last week, the Seven Days office was flooded with emails about a recent write-up on the Blue Cat Café and Wine Bar. Actually, we only got four, but they all said the exact same thing: that local chef Richard Witting, formerly of Opaline and Café Piccolo, deserved credit for some of the dishes on the Blue Cat menu. Some referred to him as the restaurant's "chef."

Mariasha Giral, Blue Cat co-owner, was surprised by the fallout, particularly because Witting was no longer employed by the Blue Cat when the write-up came out. "Richard was a really big asset to the kitchen, but he never worked more than three days a week," she explains. "I think he did a really good job while he was here, but I would never have called him the chef."

Although Witting had "creative control over specials" on the days he worked, relates Giral, he did not do other tasks that define a head chef, such as ordering and receiving food shipments and working to increase profitability in the kitchen. He did prepare the much-lauded food for a recent wine tasting.

The first head chef at the Blue Cat was John Rinehart, who helped develop the restaurant's concept. When Rinehart departed in March, Giral reports, she and her husband, Ozzy, took on many of the chef's tasks.

Witting began part-time employment at Blue Cat about four months ago, and he recently left "on good terms," she believes. "I don't think he would have thought of his role here any differently than I was describing it."

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About The Author

Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Former contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the first Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a goose, butcher a pig, make ramen from scratch, and cook a scallop perfectly.


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