This weekend is your last chance to taste chef Matt Selby's work at Central Bistro & Bar. The veteran chef came to Isiah Salazar's place on the edge of Highland in early 2014, a few months after leaving the now-closed Corner House in Jefferson Park. Selby not only revamped the menu at Central Bistro, but also worked with Salazar on the Crafty Fox, the alehouse/pizzeria he's opening at 3901 Fox Street in early 2016. But now Selby is moving on. "It's time for me to take on some new challenges," he says. "I've come to the point in my career where, in the creative process, it's been there done that."
"I have these talented people around me," Selby adds. "Let's let them do their thing." Longtime sous Jesse Vega has taken over as the new exec chef at Central Bistro; when he arrived two years ago, he introduced the restaurant's successful brunch. And while Selby says he'll give Salazar's crew "anything they want, anything they need," at either location, they already have a "capable kitchen manager who knows pizza a helluva lot better than I do," he points out. "These guys are talented as hell; I'm excited to see what they'll put on the plate."
And Selby's excited to see what he'll do next in a career that's stretched from the Rattlesnake Grill to Vesta Dipping Grill and Steuben's to the Corner House to Central Bistro. "I have other dreams and aspirations," Selby continues. "It's impossible to work on those when you're doing chef's hours. I'd very much like to go into consulting...but I've been afraid to say it out loud. My hometown is only getting bigger: I really want to help people. I want to take my leadership talents and find ways to give back...You don't work this hard in your hometown for nothing."
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Over the past five years, he says, people have been coming to him, asking if he could consult on projects, and "I just haven't had the time." But now he will. "There's something out there for me," he concludes. "I just have to go out there and find it...I haven't stuck my neck out just for me, I've stuck it out for this city over the last twenty years....There's got to be something out there for a bulldog like me."
Want to have a last supper (or brunch, or lunch) with Selby? You can reach Central Bistro at centralbistrobar.com.