Jeff Black, co-owner of the Black Restaurant Group, confirmed today that Todd Wiss was removed as executive chef at Black’s Bar and Kitchen in Bethesda at least two weeks ago. The chef’s stay was short. Wiss, the former sous at Poste Moderne Brasserie, was installed as executive chef at Black’s in June.
“We just had philosophical differences in the ways to manage a business and manage a staff,” Black says. “It was nothing personal. Todd was a very good cook…I told him, ‘I don’t have any problem with the way you cook.'”
The difference boiled down to control. BRG, as a rule, likes to nurture its staff, both front and back of the house, and move them into positions of greater authority as they gain experience. The company, Black says, also likes to seek ideas from anyone within BRG, even if that person is far down in the pecking order. Wiss, the owner says, was more from a “corporate” environment where the mentality is, “You do what I say.”
Wiss was not immediately available for comment.
in the meantime, Black’s executive sous chef Nate Waugaman is running the kitchen and developing menus, in consultation with the owner. Waugaman, along with Arra Lawson, chef de cuisine at Addie’s in Rockville, are both in the running to replace Wiss, Black confirms. One other person, also in-house at BRG, is in the hunt.
Lawson “has done a great job,” says Black about the former toque at Daniel O’Connell’s in Old Town. “He’s on the short list of names.”