Pastry chef Chris Ford and his colleague Gregory Baumgartner resigned from Rogue 24 yesterday, citing the restaurant was not a good fit. It's yet another round of bad news for RJ Cooper's two-month-old restaurant, whose two-page contract became the subject of considerable public debate that forced Cooper to revise it. And while Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema — who first tweeted Ford's departure last night — had some good things to say about Rogue 24, the City Paper's Chris Shott wrote last week that half of the 24 courses he tried were not worth his money. Finally, it's worth noting that Rogue 24 was also not a great fit for its own PR team, who resigned from the restaurant in August.
Eater followed up with Ford on the split, which he acknowledged was brought on by personality differences. But he also emphasized that there are no hard feelings on his end:
"At the end of the day, and this is what I expressed to RJ, is that it's just not a good fit. It's as simple as that. We both deserve to have what we want on opposite sides. That's the industry. People just don't mesh. It wasn't a horrendous mess, it wasn't a blowout fight. I wanted to conduct it in the most professional, adult manner that I could. And I really do truly wish him the best, and I wish the team at Rogue the best. I've been with them for six months. It's a solid, great team, it's just not the right fit for me."
Ford — who Cooper poached away from Trummer's on Main just six months ago — is turning his focus now to the StarChefs International Pastry competition that will be held in New York City this weekend. The chef hasn't made plans beyond that, but tells Eater he would like to stay in DC: "I think it's a great city. It has a great food movement, and I'd love to still be involved with it."
Meanwhile, Cooper declined to comment on Ford's departure, saying merely that, "We just keep going forward. We're doing the best food we can."