Two-Michelin-starred Saison, which dropped down from three stars last year following the departure of chef and co-owner Joshua Skenes from day-to-day operations, is undergoing another transition as the new year begins.
Via Instagram, Eater learns that executive chef Laurent Gras has decided to move to New York and his last night in the kitchen was December 31. He promised "more details to come about Saison's next chapter," but the restaurant has yet to reveal those details has referred SFist to their PR team for later comment.
"California is an inspiring land and an amazing place to cook, because of the people, the products and the spirit of the place," Gras writes. "It was wonderful to return to San Francisco for the opportunity at Saison, and I am grateful to have spent this past year and a half with its talented team."
Saison posted to its Instagram page confirming Gras' announcement and promising a "new experience in 2020" at the restaurant. Skenes also gave a statement there saying, "We have been fortunate to have Laurent at the helm of Saison during the time he’s been here and are in full support of him seeking deeper life balance and being closer to his family... We’ll be taking this opportunity to bring a little piece of what we have been working on to San Francisco."
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Hello Friends, Some news from Saison: Laurent Gras is moving back to NYC to be closer to his family. We’ll remain open with plans to introduce a new experience at Saison in 2020." . . “Going into the new year, I have decided to move back to New York to be closer to my wife, family and friends. California is an inspiring land and an amazing place to cook, because of the people, the products and the spirit of the place. It was wonderful to return to San Francisco for the opportunity at Saison, and I am grateful to have spent this past year and a half with its talented team. December 31 will be my last day, and there will be more details to come about Saison's next chapter. I wish all the best to the team in the future, and want to thank everyone who has supported us.” -Laurent Gras . . “We have been fortunate to have Laurent at the helm of Saison during the time he’s been here and are in full support of him seeking deeper life balance and being closer to his family. We wish Laurent all the best. We’ll be taking this opportunity to bring a little piece of what we have been working on to San Francisco. Stay tuned for more details” -Joshua Skenes
During his six months at the restaurant, Gras had begun to put his stamp on the much vaunted, seafood-focused menu, much as he did at three-Michelin-starred L20 in Chicago. But still, a number of menu items remained from Skenes' tenure in the kitchen, and significant changes aren't likely very soon.
As the LA Times reported in November, Skenes recently began hosting small-scale dinner parties at his Hollywood Hills home for $800 per person, under the name Skenes Place. Skenes and partner Mark Bright now also co-own two locations of the more casual Angler, one in SF and one in LA's Beverly Center. As he told the LA Times, "I need to get back in the kitchen and cook with my own hands. At all my restaurants, the teams run the place. Any chef with multiple restaurants doesn’t do the cooking. That veil was lifted a long time ago."
As Skenes did in the early days of Saison at its original location at Folsom and 17th, he said he would be personally foraging for ingredients and fish for the private dinners. The only way to get a seat is to fill out an invitation request form.
Skenes did something like this back in 2014 with a "test kitchen" series of dinners here in San Francisco. Then in 2016, he hosted some private dinners at a ranch in Sonoma, and earlier this year, he revealed Skenes Ranch, a remote lodge at an undisclosed location on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State where he is hosting master classes in foraging and grilling, fly-fishing excursions, as well as private dinners in pricy package deals.
Stay tuned for more potential details about the next steps for Saison.