Citing “family reasons,” chef and partner Herbert Kerschbaumer has left Jack’s Restaurant and Bar, the neighborhood operation that emerged from the muck of the short-lived Le Pigalle on 17th Street NW. His replacement is Hector Playuk, a Le Cordon Bleu graduate who has served as executive chef at a number of hotels and restaurants.

During his brief stint at Jack’s, Kerschbaumer, by and large, fared no better than his poorly received predecessor in currying favor with critics, including my review, which is by far the most scathing piece I’ve ever written. A sampling: “[Kerschbaumer’s] menu is a minefield of latent dangers, which can be triggered by any number of things, from an inferior (or missing) ingredient to sloppy execution in the kitchen to poor plating.”

Latif Guler, the principal owner of Jack’s, has bought out Kerschbaumer’s share in the business and installed Playuk, who apparently is a friend of the previous chef. While Kerschbaumer’s departure was sudden, says Jack’s publicist Heather Freeman, it was amiable and “mutually agreed upon.” Kerschbaumer confirmed to Freeman that he has already secured a space on Capitol Hill for his next restaurant.

Meanwhile, Playuk brings hefty resume to the job. In his last gig, he served as an executive chef for food-service giant Sodexho, which installed him at the National Academy of Sciences. He previously served as executive chef at 14K in the Hamilton Crowne Plaza Hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner, Café Milano, and Il Radicchio in Rosslyn.

Playuk expects to revamp the entire menu at Jack’s by September.

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