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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Westendorff chef swap: Ted Jackson's out, Blake Joyal is in

A test of his joyalty

Posted by Kinsey Gidick on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 4:04 PM

The Westendorff has brought on Blake Joyal as executive chef - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • The Westendorff has brought on Blake Joyal as executive chef

In a little over a year, chef Blake Joyal has helmed Palace Hotel and Screen Door, and now he's taking over The Westendorff. Three months after the opening of the fancy St. Philip Street diner, owner Steven Niketas tells us his original chef Ted Jackson has departed. "Ted was a great opening chef and we appreciate the foundation he established for us … I honestly do not have information about what his next position will be," says Niketas.

Jackson's Westendorff menu earned a stellar review from City Paper critic Allston McCrady, who oohed and ahhed over his Cheshire pork spareribs and green coconut curry — "It's vegetal aromatics paired perfectly with a glass of crisp Alvarinho from Portugal ($8). All signs indicate that Chef Jackson wants to show off the freshest produce possible." He also got a thumbs up from Post & Courier's Hanna Raskin. Clearly Joyal has big shoes to fill. But his reviews have been mixed. CP critic Eric Doksa was not a fan of Joyal's work at Palace Hotel, due to his lack of consistency. Though Raskin seems to have a soft spot for the chef. In her review of Screen Door she opened with,

"Poor Blake Joyal,” I wrote in the first line of a Palace Hotel review last summer, referring to the talented chef’s disappointment at missing one of my visits to the restaurant." 

She went on to lament Screen Door's new menu "mostly shorn of Joyal’s distinctive touches." 

Distinctive touches or not, Joyal's job-hopping isn't lost on Niketas. When asked about his new hire's various chef stints, Niketas said, "Blake has been looking for a long-term home since arriving in Charleston and starting at FIG. In my meetings and experiences with him so far, I have been blown away by his personality, creativity, and commitment to his craft. I am confident/hopeful that we are a great fit for one another. I really have an amazing staff and guest base here and they deserve someone who can give them his undivided attention."

Niketas added, "Change is always scary, but we're cautiously optimistic and genuinely excited here." 

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