Chef Chris Parasiuk, who has led the kitchen at the widely heralded Manitoba since the restaurant's genesis close to a year and a half ago, has decided to quit the industry. Co-owners Simon Cantin and Elisabeth Cardin made the announcement—unexpected, somewhat, to outside observers perhaps—on Manitoba's Facebook page yesterday. The decision comes with no acrimony or malice. Cantin reported that "Chris is headed for something that suits his will" and that "the restaurant is in a nice situation."
Chef shuffles are par for the course in Montreal but this one is notable because both the chef and restaurant in question are, ostensibly, at the height of their game. Manitoba was arguably the new restaurant of the year in Montreal in 2014 (indeed, Eater's readers voted it so), and was ballyhooed by most critics. Parasiuk, for his part, was part of this year's Eater Young Gun class. But a chef's life is an arduous one, especially for a young parent. Parasiuk and his wife just welcomed their second daughter (their eldest is almost three), and, with parental leave on the horizon, Manitoba's chef has decided to dramatically alter course.
I'm going to be spending my work day being a parent.
"For a while I've been wanting to do something with my family, something healthier for family life. The plan is we're going to take six months off, and then we're going to come back and eventually buy a house in the Laurentians and open a Montessori day care," Parasiuk explained today, between shucking peas at Manitoba. "My wife's a doula, and a natural birth advocate. It's because of her that I got the job at Manitoba in the first place, actually. I'll be cooking for the kids, of course, and teaching the kids how to cook and garden. We'll be out of the city, and we'll have a bit of land. I'll keep the chef's spirit. It's what I know, it's what I do. I'm going to be spending my work day being a parent. And spending my days being with my family."
Cantin was sanguine about Manitoba's future post-Parasiuk. "We are happy with the restaurant now. Some things will probably change: it will frankly depend on the chef we'll find. We'll surely keep insisting on foraged plants (which is Elisabeth's thing), local meat producers, and fresh goods. And we won't plate sculptures. We are ready for another step."
I want to make sure these guys are led by an awesome person going forward.
Parasiuk will stay on until the first week of September to help with the kitchen transition. "I'll be a part of the hiring process. The vibe is good, the team is amazing right now. These guys have banded together so well over the past few months and have really shown their worth. I want to make sure these guys are led by an awesome person going forward."