French Laundry Vet Walter Abrams Will Helm Le Bec-Fin; Talula’s Alum Going Into the Former James Space

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Le Bec-Fin Photo: Courtesy uwishunu

Though rumors of Per Se sous chef David Breeden taking the reins at recently shuttered Le Bec-Fin have been proven false, they weren’t too far off. Word is that former French Laundry sous chef — and just sprung from San Francisco’s Spruce — Walter Abrams will helm the Walnut Street flagship when it reopens after renovations are complete later this spring. Insider reports that Le Bec’s new owner Nicolas Fanucci (also a French Laundry alum) inked a deal to bring the West Coast-based chef to Philly, and bring his girlfriend (yet another French Laundry vet) Jennifer Smith with him to serve as the restaurant’s pastry chef.

Over at Barclay Prime, the Stephen Starr steakhouse that Inky critic Craig LaBan recently dinged down to two measly bells, Jeff Froehler has been named chef. The 32-year-old served as the restaurant’s sous chef back when it first opened in 2004. He’s since worked his way through several Philly kitchens (some owned by Starr owned, some not) and in Miami. He also did a stint at Starr’s Steak 954 in Fort Lauderdale.

And while on the subject of chefs shuffling, it’s worth noting that former Talula’s Garden's opening chef, Mike Santoro, will open a new restaurant in the former home of dearly departed Bella Vista haunt, James. Eater Philly reports he’s shooting for a June opening.

Meet Le Bec-Fin's new chef [Insider]
Chef Mike Santoro Taking Over Former James Restaurant [Eater Philly]