Chef Leaves Museum Park Cafe Less Than Four Months After Opening

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Executive chef Justin Basye has already departed Museum Park Cafe at 1801 Binz.

(Museum Park Cafe's pastry chef Chris Leung is confirmed to be remaining onboard. Leung and Christopher Balat of Balcor Hospitality opened ice cream shop, Cloud 10 Creamery together and the group is also behind coffee shop Bosta, located next to Museum Park Cafe.)

While it just opened on September 12, Museum Park Cafe burst onto Houston's dining scene with a great deal of momentum. Critics and consumers alike raved about Museum Park, with an overall positive "first look" write-up from Houston Press on September 25 and a coveted three-star review from the Houston Chronicle restaurant critic Alison Cook on November 25.

Museum Park Cafe's strong start put it in the #13 spot in our Top 25 New Restaurants list for 2014.

Greg Morago at the Houston Chronicle reports that the owner of Museum Park, Balcor Hospitality, has promoted sous chef Jason White to take Basye's place. White's prior experience includes sous chef positions at both Oxheart and Revival Market.

We reached out to both Basye and Christopher Balat of Balcor Hospitality Group. Here's Basye's statement:

"I would like to thank Balcor hospitality, especially Christopher Balat and Chris Leung, for the past year. I am very proud of both Bosta and [Museum Park Cafe]. I have complete faith that Jason White, a long time colleague and friend, will make Museum Park Cafe a dining destination for years to come."

The statement from Balcor Hospitality reads as follows:

"As we move into the new year, Balcor Hospitality's focus is to continue building roots in the museum district with more upcoming hospitality concepts. Museum Park Cafe, like all our other concepts is a team effort, and I'm very happy with the team we have in place including Jason, Chris Leung as culinary director and up-and-coming sous chef Lauren Perryman, whose a rising star in her own right; each of their creativity and expertise together enhance Museum Park Cafe's exceptional dining experience."

Neither says anything about what happened to cause Basye to move along. For his part, new executive chef Jason White has this to say about his new role:

"I'm excited at this amazing opportunity I've been given. To step in as executive chef and also be able to be part of Balcor's vision to reshape the dining scene in the museum district is a privilege. I'm proud of what we're doing here at the restaurant and don't plan to make changes."

Basye is a former James Beard-nominee for Rising Star Chef. That, along with his past experience with Pappas Restaurants and the memorable pop-up dinner series Les Sauvages, all still make him a hot prospect. It will be interesting to see where he turns up next.

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