Chef Change at DTSA’s Chapter One

Are kitchen shuffles a symptom of the downtown district’s shifting sands?

In downtown Santa Ana, fine-er dining seems to be struggling. Little Sparrow is looking for a new owner, and the North Left, in a space that never really recovered from the beating death that occurred outside its doors when it was The Crosby, closed suddenly last week.

Now, news of another chef change at Chapter One, after an earlier switch that saw Jason Montelibano depart. O.C. fine-dining veteran Gregory Moro, on the job since last fall, has left. Of Moro, owner Jeffrey Jensen says, “His vision for his career and Chapter One’s goals just weren’t in sync.” For his part, Moro says, “From a longtime customer to a short time as the executive chef of Chapter One, I had many great times in this restaurant. Although things just didn’t work out, I hope the customers enjoy some of my new dishes! I’m sure I’ll be back in to eat soon.”

For now, the kitchen will be run cooperatively by Cameron Cortese and Armando Rios. According to Jensen, titles might be “hammered out at a later date. However, Chapter One’s main concern is the quality and creativity coming out of the kitchen, as opposed to titles.” He adds, “The important thing to me is leading the team, putting out quality food, and handling the scope of work that’s on the horizon.”

After Chapter One, Montelibano more than landed on his feet as executive chef at Eats Kitchen & Bar in Hotel Irvine—read Orange Coast dining critic Gretchen Kurz’ review in our February issue. I hope Moro finds a new home that’s as simpatico.


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