Philippe Boulot will be taking over as executive chef at the Multnomah Athletic Club next year.
I find this interesting, because every time I walk past the MAC club, it seems like the Sysco truck is there unloading palates of frozen food – I always shudder as I go past. Anyway, according to a press release I got this afternoon, Boulot will leave his position as chef de cuisine, and instead, take on the role of “Culinary Director” at The Heathman – which means he’s out.
Read between the lines there. Just saying.
You can read an interview by Nancy Rommelmann with Philippe here.
But wait, am I wrong in thinking that the Sysco trucks have always spent an equal amount of time unloading at The Heathman?
Perhaps all they get from Sysco is bar napkins and straws.
Wow! so from what I just read in this blurb,Phillipe gets paid by McCormick & Schmicks ! and picks up a pay check from the MAC? If this is true, then good for the chef. The MAC job is really a paper pusher job. Besides its not like Phillipe was cooking every night at the Heathman. He was basically an Executive Chef for McCormick & Schmicks. Which also allows him to push paper. I just cant believe that Doug Schmick, Bill King, Marcel Laushene, and Mary Hinds would allow him to “moonlight” .
I am sure working the MAC is lucrative, but I cant believe a Chef of his knowledge/talent would work there. Most Private Club chefs in Portland are shoe makers that could’nt make it in the real world. Or are on the retirement track. I cant see Phillipe meeting with the social clubs planning menus. Especially when they try to get him to do 3 course lunch for $10 a piece.
If this is true, then great for the MAC. This is a HUGE loss for McCormick & Schmicks. The Heathman lost a little of her charm once Gregg Higgins and Mary Arnstadt left. But Phillipe ran a good dining room. I just hope McCormick & Schmick’s don’t try to hire some CIA robot/corporate chef who will end up cooking food like Jake’s Famous Crawfish. Now that guy ( Billy Hahn ) should be the chef of the MAC.
Really though, they should give Karl Zenk a shot as Executive. He has been/suffered from Phillipe, besides, Karl does all the work.
Now it is not fair to say that Phillipe didn’t do ne work, he ran that ship like no other he was and always will be a great culinary master of his work and taking charge of the Mac is another culinary step for him as all chiefs take. the heath man i am sure will have some changes and will still be giving out the great product though it just lost some of its charm.
Well, as a MAC member, I’m pretty excited. The food is currently mediocre at best.
Saying “MAC Club” is like saying “What is the Soup du Jour today?”
Or ATM machine
Mostly Running. says
but seriously, as a member of a professional society that meets at the MAC, the meals can’t get any worse!!! Our table last week got into a discussion of whether MAC had maximized the number of ways to rubberize chicken.
What this sounds like to me is that Boulot and the McCormick & Schmick group are both hedging their bets. The “Culinary Director” title and gig (very likely a contract/consultant arrangement) allows M&S to continue to tap Boulot’s expertise — and the cachet his name attaches to the Heathman’s dining room; it also allows Boulot a back door back into the M&S hierarchy in the event that his new post at the MAC goes sour for one reason or other. For the near term, it probably saves $$ for M&S, which is no bad thing for them in the present economy; Boulot’s replacement will almost certainly draw a markedly lower salary/benefit package, and even after paying for consultancy hours, M&S should come out ahead financially.
Given the reports here about the quality (or lack thereof) of MAC food, it is not at all surprising that the club’s board would be interested in upgrading their operation — and given enough complaints from enough deep-pocketed members about rubberized chicken, it would be natural for them to go after one of the most recognized chefs in town to execute the makeover. (And indeed, perhaps “makeover” is the operative word. Depending on how Boulot’s deal with the MAC is structured, it may be that what they’re hiring him to do is to spend three years or so building them a sound, first-class kitchen team, after which he’ll leave that team in well-trained but less expensive hands and be free to return to the Heathman . . . or some other M&S project.)
At the very least, it looks like smart negotiating on Boulot’s part — he retains a cordial working relationship with his old bosses even as he steps into a new job that’s presumably even more lucrative or otherwise rewarding.
What is his relationship w/Gracies at the Mallory?
I think this is a good move for him. Most of what has been said in the thread is true. He’ll remain in control of the concept at the Heathman, Karl become the exec, and at the MAC, he’ll be able to revamp the F&B operation to make it more interesting (euh…”edible”!)
At Gracies, he’s just did the same thing, but it’s just a “silent” consulting job. He hired a new team and designed the concept. But the chef, Mark Hosack, is in charge.
salty ham says
The Heathman had the nastiest dirtiest kitchen I ever seen here in portland
the front line is “pretty” but the back line is utterly gross,
not to mention the stench from the trash in the back alley wafting in the kitchen thru
the dish pit.
Moral of the story, You cant polish a turd.
I’d bet the mac still has crappy food here in a year.
Salty Ham: I’d like to know your accomplishments in life…
Philippe took the Heathman from $3 million/year to 7 last year… Can you tell me which hotel in town does this kind of biz in F&B???
“It’s easy to be a critic, a lot harder to perform the art”
So, what are YOUR accomplishments? Uh…
Its true the Heathman rocks for a F&B department. But even in the McCormick & Schmicks empire they are not #1. Believe it or not….Jake’s Grill , WAY over sells them in both restaurant sales and catering. What is even scarier is that the Crawfish has higher food sales than the Heathman.
But back to the thread….good for Phillipe. He gets to collect two pay checks! Lower the stress in his life! BRAVO! Also good for Karl, everyone knows he runs the show at the Heathman anyway.
This is why Phillippe will never open his own joint ( which many wonder ) WHY? No stress, no payroll, he is making enough coin to go back to Normandy and retire in style.
I just wonder how he will get along with the MAC management staff?? The ex- executive chef ( Paul Bebbler) wife is the director of human resourses, and club managers move at a slower pace?? I wonder how many Heathman cooks follow him to the MAC to correct that ship?
McCormick’s just got a new CEO ( William Freeman – his name had to be Billl so the senior managers could remember his name ) I wonder how long he will allow Phillipe to get two checks? Who comes first the Heathman or the MAC?
I really like what you have to say. Obviously, you’re “In the know” in this town!
But come on…comparing the Heathman to Jake’s? It’s like comparing apples to a bicycle!
The Heathman is the flagship for Mc Cormick’s. Jake’s is the money machine, kind of like Lucier and Spaghetti Factory…
Speaking of Lucier, I have some ideas for them: sell some of the art, buy a big screen TV, do Monday Night Football, Spaghetti and Meatballs on Tuesday, Ladies Night on Wednesday, Karaoke on Thursday, “All You Can Eat” Seafood buffet on Friday, Open Mike on Saturday and Brunch – Yes, the “B” word – on Sunday.
Damn, I should be a consultant!
Food Rebel…point taken. The only problem is that Phillippe hates to admit the association with M&S. Yet takes their money wiith a smile. That’s why I wonder how long “Bill Freeman” stands for this. Yes, M&S is the mangement company, but Phillipe does get a check from M&S.
I wonder what the “old school” M&S guys think of all this, guys like Bill McCormick, Doug Schmick, Mary Hinds, Marcel Lauhsene, Bill King, Jeff Skeele just to name a few. These are long time employees who bled and sweated for the company pre- going public. They would never stand for this type of “moon lighting”.
I guess they are afraid what would happen to the Heathman if Phillipe were not there. Funny, the Heathman was also afraid after Gregg Higgins left also. Yes it stuggled, and even Phillippe was’nt loved at first. But the town came around.
This is very compelling stuff though. Like I said good for Phillipe if he can get it! He certainly has earned it.
Salt and Pepper says
“old School” M&S guys? Mary Hinds??? How long has she been with M&S? What has she done for M&S? Nothing but a yes man for Chef King.
Sorry I forgot to add this final question. Every one says the Heathman restaurant is managed by M&S. But do they own it? Otherwise why allow Philliipe to collect two pay checks? I mean they have 90 plus restaurants. What does one management contract (or lose of ) mean to the bottom line? I read they posted 100 million in revenue for the third quarter? Unless they own the joint, if they do then I see the fear.
Amoureuse, you and I need to sit down for coffee sometimes!
In all respect, I think you make it more complicated than it is… The heathman is, and always has been, Philippe’s concept and M&S has always respected that. With Phil leaving, I think – and this is only my guess – that M&S are retaining the concept and Philippe’s name not to scare off the clientele. IMO, it’s an easier bet than hiring a new chef and rethink the concept from scratch.
Yes, Karl takes care of the day to day operations, but he doesn’t have a “big”name. I think that they will let Phil fade off slowly and promote Karl’s name more and more. Hell, that’s what I would do!
As for the 2 paychecks, no one knows the amount on it…
And does M&S owns the Heathman? Nope. They have a management contract with the hotel. But they profit greatly and make tons of $ out of it.
First: I think this arrangement has a whole lot to do with networking — not restaurant-industry networking as such, but the likely overlap between the deep-pocketed movers & shakers on the MAC’s governing board and the deep-pocketed clientele that have made the Heathman’s F&B operation highly profitable via their recognition of Philippe Boulot’s talents, both culinary and administrative. M&S has a very big incentive to keep that cabal happy, because that cabal sends them a lot of business, and clearly that cabal wants both a makeover at the MAC and a degree of continuity at the Heathman.
Second: everybody keeps talking about “two paychecks” as if Boulot were likely to be drawing the same top-level executive salary from both positions. I think that’s highly unlikely — and I also think, as I suggested above, that this is most likely a win/win move for the M&S group in the present economy. M&S gets out from under Boulot’s full-time salary and benefits package (and with his tenure, he’s probably been one of the group’s most highly paid employees); instead, most likely, they agree to pay him so much an hour as an independent contractor/consultant for the relatively few hours he’ll spend on the “Culinary Director” position. Result: a significant net savings, even allowing for a modest raise for the newly elevated chef de cuisine. Yet M&S retains the marquee value of Boulot’s name and stamp of approval on the Heathman F&B operation.
This is all speculation, of course, and neither the MAC’s nor M&S’s lawyers are likely to let us look at the niceties of the contracts involved. But the general outline I’ve proposed is a straightforward, common-sense explanation that makes sound business sense for all the parties involved. M&S saves some money on salaries. Boulot gets a new, well-paid, professionally challenging job. The MAC gets a thorough and much-needed revamp of its F&B operation. What’s not to like?
Bingo, most likely!
Previously having been employed at the Heathman, I have nothing but respect for Chef Phillipe, his crew, and his kitchen. To see the amount of food that comes out of such an incredibly tiny space is astounding at times, especially during the holidays. Health scores are high, and there is nothing coming out of the kitchen that I wouldn’t serve to my dying grandmother. It’s easy to keep a dish pit and garbage area spotless when you average 40 covers on a good night, but it’s always a different story when you have a minimal crew doing 350 covers. Employees are continually pressured to keep clean and to pick up extra cleaning when it’s slow. With everyone in full cooperation, the kitchen can still be cluttered, but NEVER is it filthy or disgusting. When you have a handful of bussers RUNNING to clear plates and sling them to the dishwashers, yes…..bits of food fly, but by the end of the rush, everything is scrubbed and sanitized. Go ahead…..stick your face into ANY garbage bin in this city……doubtful it’ll smell like roses and sugar plums. Your words tell me that you are naive to many facets of our industry. You’ve wildly exaggerated things in order to smear a place I hold dear to my heart.
“Salty Ham: So, what are YOUR accomplishments? Uh…”
Well FoodRebel, I’d say they are the type to title themselves “Pantry Chef”.
Congrats to Chef Phillipe! You deserve a new challenge, and a bit more comfort at home, so good luck!
Oh, the irony.
(Must…resist…skewering…ham…with his own…sword….)
He does it because he has two kids and college to pay for…all of this is a mute point for me because when spending my dining dollars (which HAVE dwindled) I wouldn’t spend them at a single place mentioned in any of these previous posts. Give me DOC and the jesus of food ANYDAY! The MAC can have Phillipe…
Food Dude says
wait, who is the jesus of food?
Jesus was the Jesus of Food. Rumor has it he was pretty good with a loaf of bread. That does bring up a good question though, Which one person in Portland has had the most influence on what we now see as our food scene? WW or the big O did an article many years ago that talked about a group, Machado, Schrieber, Higgins, Gould to name a few but what one person? Perhaps put that on your poll FD.