If the adage is true that there can be “too many cooks in the kitchen,” the Lampo/Prime 109 team defied it for years. Even from the time they opened Lampo in 2014, some wondered how three of Charlottesville’s top chefs could survive together in such a small restaurant. In the five years since, the three not just survived, but thrived — each separately winning C-VILLE’s annual Best Chef award: Loren Mendosa in 2015, Ian Redshaw in 2018, and Mitchell Beerens in 2019.
But, as successful as the trio has been, it could not last forever, as eventually one or more of them would want to pursue their own vision. For Prime 109 Executive Chef Ian Redshaw, that time has come, as the chef parted ways with the restaurant this month. A chef of boundless creativity, the 2019 James Beard award semifinalist says he has reached a point in his career where is ready to explore that creativity to the fullest, something the confines and demands of a Neapolitan pizzeria and steakhouse do not always allow. While Redshaw’s long term plans are still in the works, in the short term the father of two says he looks forward to more time with his family, while also planning a private dining series, launching soon. Stay tuned for dates and venues.
As for Prime 109, Redshaw says he leaves in good hands the winner of 2019 Best New Restaurant. “I am confident that Prime 109 will grow under the talented hands of the kitchen staff and remaining partners,” Redshaw says. Stepping in to run the kitchen is Mendosa, who says he has no plans to change what Redshaw helped to build.
Mendosa also says that, though sad to lose a business partner, he is excited to experience Redshaw’s food as a customer again. “I’ll always remember the first meal that Ian made for me at L’Etoile: fried sweetbreads with Brussels sprouts and capers, and from that point on I’ve been blown away by his creativity and passion,” said Mendosa. “His pure enthusiasm for food is contagious and makes everyone around him want to be a better chef.”