We brought you the tasty news yesterday that Element Collective, the team behind ultra-successful Nellcôte and Old Town Social in Chicago, among other places, is eyeing Boston for future endeavors. We talked to Element's Chris Dexter, who is in Boston right now and has already (smartly) dined at Hungry Mother, about their plan. Right now, Dexter is on the prowl for just the right up-and-coming chef—"basically, someone like [Menton's] Colin Lynch four or five years ago," he says.
Dexter's in town on a fact-finding mission, scoping out the city and getting a feel for its wants, desires, and talents. He says that Element prides itself on being a "local national" company with extreme artisanal goals: hyper-local in feel, but national in scope and outlook. Ideally, a Boston restaurant will have an outstanding charcuterie program, which Old Town Social is renowned for in Chicago. Nellcote makes everything from scratch (check out our video of them making flour right here), so that personal touch will be a hallmark of this new restaurant, too.
And, yes, he knows Fort Point is the "it" neighborhood right now, akin to Chicago's Randolph Street, where glam-rockish Nellcôte is located. He's looking for a space with real character and bones, not new construction (too bad Ginger Park is taken by Boston Chops!), so we wouldn't be shocked to see him open there, though he's still scouting locations throughout the city.
As for the lucky chef, he's looking at a handful of "passionately locavore" people "recommended by some very boldface names." The perfect candidate goes beyond the "platitudes" of cooking local and has taken time to cultivate strong relationships with regional producers. He's against "name-cropping" (the food version of "name-dropping," which we're going to adopt from now on) and wants someone who's actually put in the time to know the vendors. At the same time, the chef in question needs to be able to helm a high-energy restaurant.
Last but not least, no name yet, but the chosen moniker will be driven by the chef's narrative and back story. So stay tuned: 2013 is shaping up to be quite interesting indeed.