Clyde Common Chef Shuffle: Leach Out, Carlo Lamagna In

In one crazy weekend, a promising chef from David Chang's ranks is out, and a butcher-loving alum of Chicago's Perennial Virant steps up to reshape an iconic PDX destination.

By Karen Brooks May 4, 2014

As Eat Beat reported earlier today, Clyde Common parted ways with its new chef of six months, Johnny Leach—a Momofuku alum hired to preside over one of the most highly anticipated menu revamps in years.

But the stars were not aligned in Portland. Leach was let go on Saturday, May 3. (Read all the details in my earlier post.) "I really respect him and his food, and I think he has a bright career ahead of him," says Clyde Common owner Nate Tilden. "But his style didn't mesh with Clyde's style and after six months, we decided to part ways." 

Only one day later, on Sunday, May 4, Tilden broke the news to Eat Beat that he’s promoted sous chef Carlo Lamagna to executive chef. Lamagna cooked in Germany and at Chicago’s respected farm-to-table, comfort-deep restaurant Perennial Virant before coming to the Clyde last fall on a recommendation from chef April Bloomfield and Peter Cho at The Breslin, inside New York’s Ace Hotel. His specialties are preserving, canning, and large animal cookery. (Could anything be more Portland?)

So the question remains: with Lamagna at the helm, will we finally taste fresh blood at Clyde Common? Tilden says he’s game for pushing, for trying ideas that haven’t been seen. But Clyde is also slow and careful about change. The restaurateur seems to click with Lamagna, who he says helped influence some of Chicago’s new Germanic wave. Lamagna reminds Tilden of his meat-mad, Swiss-trained Olympic Provisions partner, Elias Cairo.

“I could see some of those old-school meaty ideas on the table,” said Tilden after his meeting with Lamagna. "We just spent an hour talking about [Montreal's edgy) Joe Beef. I challenged Carlo to make Clyde fun again. Excitement and daring, let’s fucking kick the door down!”

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