Late last week, we broke the very good news that Jensen Cummings, the ex-chef de cuisine at TAG, who resigned from Troy Guard's Larimer Square restaurant after some high-voltage drama, had snapped up the exec chef position at Row 14, following the departure of Arik Markus, Row 14's opening chef.
Brian Melton, the force -- and face -- behind TAG's cocktail and bar program, also left his gig at TAG behind him, but, like Cummings, it was only a matter of time before he, too, was snatched up. On August 1, Melton, along with Ali Terrill, also a former "TAGger," will start slinging drinks behind the bar at ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro, Lon Symensma's stellar restaurant downtown.
"It was funny, because after everything at TAG happened, Lon recognized the wealth of people who were now looking for jobs, so he sent out a text letting people know that he was looking for front of the house staff, and I texted him back, and then we ended up sitting down together for a good two hours talking about what I could do for him and what he could do for me," explains Melton, insisting that if was going to accept the position, then Terrill was coming with him.
"She's my sous chef behind the shtick, and we've solidified ourselves as a team," notes Melton. "We're a package deal, and Lon was willing to give us both a home behind his bar, and, honestly, I couldn't be more excited." ChoLon, he says, "was looking for me and much as I was looking for them, and I think this is going to be a great opportunity for all of us."
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Melton, who will put in training time this week before his first night as ChoLon's new star-tender, says that his goal is to elevate ChoLon's bar "to one of the best in the city" -- and he's got free rein to do just that. "I want to do some great sake cocktails to complement Lon's food, add some really cool seasonally-driven cocktails that use fresh ingredients -- ingredients that Lon uses in the kitchen -- and even do some molecular mixology stuff with New York twists, like sous-viding liquids and doing foams," he says. "I'm using a lot of the skills that I learned at TAG as a platform here to go off in my own direction and build on that foundation," adds Melton.
You can find Melton whipping up cocktails behind the bar at ChoLon Wednesday through Saturday.