A few months ago, there was a disturbance in the force. We found Eric Samaniego resurfaced in Long Beach's Naples neighborhood. And both Jeffrey Boullt and Ashley Guzman found themselves back in Downtown Santa Ana's (Boullt at Playground/2.0 and Guzman at Irenia, respectively). Now, Hotel Irvine is the first in a number of departures pending throughout Orange County.
Chef Jason Montelibano (a.k.a. Chicken Wang) informed us over the weekend that he plans to leave corporate life soon. His direction is a familiar one: Chapter One: the modern local. When asked for a statement, here is what Jason had to say:
“I have had such a positive experience with EATS, Hotel Irvine and the Irvine Company over the last two years. And while I've learned so much and grown in this time, I'm very excited to return to Chapter One: the modern local, in Santa Ana to continue my career in an environment of creativity and collaboration. As always, I'm eternally grateful to those who've supported me every step of the way, and I look forward to what the future brings.”
Welcome back, Chef! Time to rock that facial hair after your well-deserved vacation. Mark our words: this is the beginning of another influx of talent to the DTSA neighborhood.
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.