On the heels of chef/partner Bruce Molzan's "amicable" departure from Corner Table comes news that the restaurant has hired former Hell's Kitchen winner Ja'Nel Witt to take over as executive chef.
According to a press release sent out Thursday morning, Witt joined Corner Table on Monday, June 16.
"We are thrilled to have Ja'Nel join our team," says Michelle Coopwood, co-owner of Corner Table, in a statement. "Corner Table has had a tremendous first year, and with Ja'Nel's help, we are confident the restaurant will be elevated to the next level and offer an even better experience to our customers."
Witt received an associate's degree in culinary arts from the Art Institute of Houston before going on to work at Kiran's, Tintos and the Tasting Room at Uptown Park. She competed on season 11 of FOX's reality cooking show Hell's Kitchen, starring Gordon Ramsay. As winner of the competition and recipient of the $250,000 prize, Witt was offered the position of head chef at the Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, but shortly after this was announced came news that she would not be taking the job after all.
After that news broke, the show's production company stated: "Recent unforeseen personal circumstances will now unfortunately prevent her from accepting the position, which is a huge disappointment for Ja'Nel and all of us. She's an incredible talent, and we all wish her much success with the next chapter of her career."
The exact reason for the break was never confirmed, but TMZ reported that Witt tested positive for cocaine in a required drug test.
Witt has moved past this to participate in culinary events around Houston like the recent FPSF media breakfast, in which she partnered with Uchi to create a dish.
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According to the press release, "The restaurant will be working with Witt to transform the menu over the coming weeks, but it will still feature Paleo and signature cuisine they are known for."
On Wednesday, news got out that Molzan would be partnering with Neera Patidar, formerly of Nosh Bistro, to reopen a restaurant in the former Nosh Bistro space. The Chronicle reports that this new restaurant should be open by mid-July.
In the meantime, Corner Table is still dealing with the parking issues we've been covering since February. Along with the press release, Corner Table sent us a statement that reads: "Our architect Craig Garcia is working closely with Senior Planning Officials to bring the facility into conformance. We are reconfiguring our on-site parking spaces as well as conversion of existing occupied space. This along with our off-site leased spaces will more than satisfy our patrons and the city."
This seems to imply that Corner Table will not need to close off the 3,308 square feet of space in 30 days that the city had initially demanded following complaints from residents of the neighborhood about the lack of parking for the restaurant.