While official press releases stated that he was leaving "to pursue new opportunities and explore life outside the kitchen," (that old story) it still seemed strange. Shipton and executive chef Nick O'Leary were a culinary dream team spurring Borough on to every best-of list in the Twin Cities.
Now, O'Leary is gone, too. Why?
"To pursue new opportunities," of course.
Borough and its downstairs bar Parlour have been critical and diner's favorites since opening in January 2013. Coup d'Etat meanwhile has been steadily flagging almost since its opening date in January 2014. Local food writer Andrew Zimmern allegedly tweeted that he had one of his worst meals of his year there.
We had similar experiences with glacier-slow and aloof service and food so bad it got sent back to the kitchen with a special request to not replace it with anything at all, please. (The gnocchi were consistently divine, however).
When we spoke to O'Leary a couple of weeks ago, he longed for a time when Borough was Jester's only concept. He recalled the glory days of almost every detail falling into place like magic.
But, he noted, as soon as Jester got its bearings, the company began adding properties in rapid succession, and it became difficult for the kitchen to keep up with quality. With good culinary talent being at an all time low, the number of restaurant openings at an all-time high, and a finite dining public, O'Leary seemed weary (he's also a new father).
He spoke of "restaurant opening addiction," and mentioned that in spite of the above- mentioned pitfalls, his partners (and ostensibly, O'Leary himself, since he was still with the company at the time) were hell-bent on opening yet more properties. (O'Leary was part owner of Borough and Coup d'Etat.)
O'Leary hasn't said what his next step will be. Chef Josh Hedquist will be taking over his post at Coup d'Etat. Hedquist's last stint was at Workshop at Union as chef de cuisine to Stewart Woodman, and prior to that he was with Todd English restaurant da Campo Osteria in Fort Lauderdale.
We will continue to follow this story as it develops.
Send your story tips to Hot Dish.