Early Sunday morning, news spread that Underbelly sous chef Ryan Lachaine was no longer with the celebrated Houston restaurant. Lachaine had been chef Chris Shepherd's right-hand man since Underbelly opened, in 2012.
We contacted restaurant group Clumsy Butcher, which represents a number of local bars and restaurants, including Underbelly, Anvil, OKRA and Blacksmith, for comment on the situation, and they responded with:
"We have nothing but great things to say about Ryan and his time at Underbelly. We have no further comment."
Lachaine did respond to Darla Guillen of Eater with some insight into his move:
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I'm going to take a little time off. Hang out with my 2-and-a-half year-old twin boys, be a dad. I'm looking forward to cooking at Indie Chefs Week at Foreign & Domestic in January. There's going to be some cool things happening in Houston in the new year, and I'm excited to be a part of them.
Prior to embarking on a culinary career, Canadian-born Lachaine went to business school at the University of Houston and coached hockey. Prior to his stint at Underbelly, Lachaine worked with Bryan Caswell at Reef, but he gained more recognition after moving to Shepherd's powerhouse new restaurant. In June 2013, he was named one of the "Eater Young Guns," which the site describes as "the most distinguished young chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers, and hospitality industry professionals in the country."
The Clumsy Butcher restaurant empire is keeping things close to the vest regarding Lachaine's exit, but his profile on the Underbelly Web site as already been taken down, so it's clear he's out. For now, Lyle Bento, also a sous chef at Underbelly, will probably take over many of Lachaine's responsibilities.
We'll keep you posted if we learn anything new.