Noah Zonca’s abrupt departure from Capital Dime has not become any clearer and probably won’t any time soon.
The high-energy, outgoing Zonca, 37, gave the new midtown restaurant instant stature when he attached his name and vision to the venture. The restaurant opened last July with a novel concept — farm-to-fork cuisine for $10 a plate. But things were rocky from the start, and those prices quickly went up. Some of the entrees now cost as much as $30.
Zonca was almost always there, working the room and chatting up customers. But he wasn’t cooking.
So, what happened? At this point, it’s anybody’s guess. Contacted Friday morning, the former chef at The Kitchen said he signed a non-disclosure agreement upon his departure. That’s an unusual legal step for a local restaurant divorce.
Asked what happened, Zonca said, “I’m not at liberty to say. I signed a separation statement that we’re no longer associated. I wish them the best. That’s all I can say.”
We pushed a little more, asking about the challenges of opening a new restaurant and attempting something new.
“No matter what, opening a new business is tough,” the chef said. “I think I created something amazing. I just wanted to pursue other ventures.”
Zonca gave hints of what’s to come but wouldn’t elaborate. At one point, he mentioned TV, then said he would have to wait to provide further details.
The man who once presided over $135-per-person sold out dinners at The Kitchen, is for now a chef for hire at people’s homes. For high-end prix fixe dinner parties, Zonca will come to your home with a multi-course menu and, no doubt, give his personal touch to the affair.
“It’s kind of a dinner and a show in their home. People are really into it,” Zonca said.
Asked about the name of this upscale catering venture, Zonca said, “You know, I never really labeled it. Call it Zonca’s. It doesn’t matter.”
Zonca doesn’t have a website either. For those interested in hiring him to cook high-end prix fixe dinners, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (916) 747-7069.
Zonca said he continues to hear from customers of The Kitchen that they miss him. The performance-style restaurant is owned and operated by the Selland Family Restaurants, which also owns Ella Dining Room & Bar, and Selland’s Market-Cafe (two locations).
Zonca hinted that a venture might be in the works that will have him back in a restaurant and, perhaps, performing in front of a dining audience once again. But he said it wouldn’t be the same concept as the seminal Kitchen. He did not elaborate.
“It’s moving how much people support me,” he said. “It’s an awesome thing. I love this town.”