Photo of Jonathan Uribe by Franz Mahr/ Toki Underground

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Chef Jonathan Uribe‘s last day as the head chef at Toki Underground is today. He took over the kitchen after Erik Bruner-Yang’s departure last spring.

Uribe will be helping out in kitchens around town while he plans his next move, which he hopes involves gaining front-of-house experience. It’s a move not uncommon for chefs or other hospitality pros plotting to open a restaurant or bar.

So who’s replacing Uribe at the H Street NE ramen shop that introduced the addictive Japanese noodles to D.C.? No one. And that’s by design.

“The whole reason I’m leaving is because I know the cooks and people here now are ready to take it on,” Uribe says. Instead of bringing in a fresh executive chef, Uribe wants “the people who have been working hard for the last year be able to take over the leadership of it and have the responsibility.”

According to Uribe, sometimes when an executive chef departs from a restaurant, it creates a vacuum and all of the cooks leave too. The Hawaii-born chef with aloha spirit says he wants to “reverse the crippling lack of trust that immigrants and Latins have,” when new leadership comes in.

“Some of the cooks have never had the opportunity to be anything other than a line cook.” Uribe says. “I’m giving them that opportunity.”

Toki Underground, 1234 H St. NE; (202) 388-3086; tokiunderground.com