Former Hell’s Kitchen winner Ja’Nel Witt has found herself among cavemen. The reality TV star and Gordon Ramsay-alum is taking over the kitchen at popular Houston paleo-centric restaurant Corner Table, after the abrupt departure of former head chef Bruce Molzan. Corner Table promises to retain elements of the upscale “caveman diet” menu, attempting to satisfy both the casual diner and the “most discriminating clientele.”
Molzan’s departure from Corner Table came as a surprise to many last week. He opened the restaurant in January of 2013 to poor critical reviews, but a steady flow of diners. The chef courted controversy in 2011 when a large portion of the Ruggles wait staff walked out during a shift protesting unpaid tips that they claimed Molzan unjustly withheld. The split with Corner Table is said to be amicable.
Witt herself is no stranger to scandal. After winning Gordon Ramsay’s reality cooking competition, she was offered a position at Ramsay’s Caesar’s Palace restaurant Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill in Las Vegas. She left that job shortly, but neither party has made a statement as to why. TMZ alleges that Witt tested positive for cocaine.
But the two controversial chefs are now striking out on new ventures. As Witt prepares the new kitchen at Corner Table, Molzan has partnered with popular Houston restaurateur Neera Patidar. The former Nosh Bistro owner is partnering with Molzan to revive his Ruggles Green and Ruggles Grill concept with the tentatively titled Ruggles Black.
It’s not clear whether the chefs’ respective culinary talents will win out over their controversial histories, but one thing is for certain: both Corner Table and Ruggles Black will be places to watch in the coming months.