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Chef Stewart Woodman hopes he's "moving on for good"

Stewart Woodman will be standing at the pass in Rochester from now on, he says.

Stewart Woodman will be standing at the pass in Rochester from now on, he says.

The most notorious local chef who everybody loves to hate is leaving town. I chatted with Stewart Woodman over the weekend and he sounded lighthearted and happy on the tail of some Boundary Waters R&R. He's just wrapped up a yearlong tenure as culinary director of Kaskaid Hospitality (Union, Crave, upcoming Burger Burger and Zia) and he's moving to Rochester to head up Kahler Group — a hotels company with five properties. Woodman says the move will allow him to "get back to the stoves, hardcore." 

"I've mostly been a thinking and planning chef, and I'm too young for that still. My knees still work. Being at the stoves is what I love." 

He'll keep busy working on varied menus — Italian, a grill, and one for Lord Essex, an old-style English pub that will be his first project to tackle. 

While his three local restaurants, Heidi's, Heidi's 2.0, and Birdhouse, were at times some of the most critically heralded in town, the chef said he found it hard to stay motivated "doing the same menu all the time." 

A sort of compendium of "greatest hits" will be his first menu rollout at the Lord Essex — he says he's been brainstorming with his ex-wife and business partner Heidi Woodman to unearth his very best dishes of the past 17 years.

"So we'll start with the very best scallop dish, the very best beet dish, the very best halibut, etc."

So if you're a super fan of the man's cooking, heading to Rochester for a little foodie outing might not be a bad idea. 

Asked if he cared to comment on his experience with Kaskaid, he said only:  "I'm very excited about this upcoming opportunity," adding, "You won't have to write about me ever again! I hope I'm moving on for good."  Lord Essex is located at 20 Second Ave. SW. Rochester; 507-396-4052 Expect Woodman's first menu to be available there by September 18.  Correction: The group that owns the Rochester hotel properties that Woodman is moving on to is called Kahler, not Taylor, as we previously reported. We regret the error.