Monday, August 29, 2016

Chef Ben McArthur Has Left J McArthur's, An American Kitchen

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2016 at 11:08 AM

Ben McArthur's last day at J McArthur's was this past Sunday. - COURTESY OF J MCARTHUR'S, AN AMERICAN KITCHEN
  • Courtesy of J McArthur's, An American Kitchen
  • Ben McArthur's last day at J McArthur's was this past Sunday.

Ben McArthur, executive chef of the acclaimed J McArthur's, An American Kitchen (3500 Watson Road; 314-353-9463), has left the Lindenwood Park restaurant. His last day was Sunday. 

McArthur announced the news in a statement posted to his personal Facebook page, thanking the St. Louis dining community for embracing his vision. He also had special praise for the local farms whose products he's relied on for his locavore dishes. 

The decision marks the end of McArthur's business relationship with the restaurant's co-owner — his father, John. The restaurant was named after John McArthur, and as our review noted, "on any given evening, you'll see [chef] McArthur's wife helping to seat tables, his father recommending wine for bar patrons and his stepmom making sure diners are enjoying their entrées."

Although the restaurant has only been open for thirteen months, Ben McArthur says he was on-site for much longer than that.

"We just wanted to go in a different direction," Ben McArthur tells the Riverfront Times. "We've had the [J McArthur's] location for two and a half or three years — it was 35oo Winehaus before, and we ran that — and we just came to a mutual agreement that it was time to move on."

Chef McArthur wants to move into more of a true farm-to-table, table-to-farm model — more of a collaborative relationship than that of the chef-purveyor dynamic at J McArthur's (and, indeed, most restaurants). He's especially proud of the relationship he has developed with Bryan Meyers and the team at Three Spring Farms and says he's looking to see how they can work together in the future. 

"I've been working with Bryan, and he is just starting to be able to deliver produce, goats and beef to restaurants," says McArthur. "I'd really like to help them grow."

McArthur has some ideas in the works, though he is not ready to discuss them quite yet. In the meantime, he plans to teach classes at Kitchen Conservatory and do some restaurant consulting — projects that will help him escape the grueling hours of running a restaurant.

"I'm almost 40 and my back hurts," laughs McArthur. "Seriously, though, I want to get to a point where I am not cooking on the line every night. I'm looking at at ways to be able to do something different."

Chef William Volny, whose resume includes the Libertine and Bixby's at the St. Louis History Museum, will assume executive chef duties when the restaurant reopens tomorrow. It was shuttered over the weekend due to a mechanical failure in its kitchen, McArthur says.

You can read Chef McArthur's full statement below.
Effective immediately, I am leaving my position as chef at J McArthur's. I am honored to have been able to share my vision and creativity to the diners of St. Louis and beyond with what is my first restaurant. Furthermore, I am overwhelmed by the acceptance and bond that I've built with the local farming community and I look forward to continuing this relationship in my next venture. Thank you to the Lindenwood Park community and alderman Joe Vaccaro for their support and encouragement!
We have reached out to J McArthur's. We'll update this post if we hear more.

We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at cheryl.baehr@riverfronttimes.com. 

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