Familiar face takes the reins at The Kitchen

Kelly McCown, pictured here at Ella in a 2009 photo, is the new executive chef at The Kitchen.
Kelly McCown, pictured here at Ella in a 2009 photo, is the new executive chef at The Kitchen. Jose Luis Villegas

Veteran chef Kelly McCown has taken over as executive chef of The Kitchen, the flagship dinner house of the Selland Famly Restaurants group, it was announced today. He is replacing executive chef David Chavez.

McCown served as executive chef of Ella, another Selland restaurant, beginning in 2009 before leaving for St. Helena in the Napa Valley in 2012 to open the highly regarded Goose & Gander.

In February, it was reported that McCown would return to Sacramento to help open OBO’ Italian restaurant, the latest Selland group venture, to be housed in the space once occupied by Andiamo restaurant on Folsom Boulevard in East Sacramento.

“Because of construction issues, (the opening of OBO’) is taking much longer than we thought, so we probably won’t open until January or February now,” said Randall Selland. “Kelly helped Nancy (Zimmer, Selland’s wife and a partner in the group) develop all the recipes for OBO’, and when David decided to move back to Los Angeles and take a job with Sprouts, Kelly said he was ready to commit to (The Kitchen job). We’ll find another chef for OBO’ when the time comes. (The situation) just sped things up. Kelly wants to make a career with us, and we’re really lucky.”

“Ultimately, we knew Kelly would play a role in The Kitchen,” added Josh Nelson, Selland’s son and co-owner of The Kitchen. “David had committed himself for only two to three years. The timing just happened the way it did.”

Chavez, who previously worked for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, was hired at The Kitchen in 2014. He spent less than year leading the $135-per-person dinners, in which the chef not only cooks but acts as a sort of an emcee for the evening.

Plans continue to relocate The Kitchen from its longtime home at 2225 Hurley Way near Howe Avenue, to larger quarters along Broadway, in 2016.

Selland and his wife, Nancy Zimmer, opened The Kitchen in 1991 as a prix-fixe demonstration-style restaurant, and it quickly became one of the hottest (and most expensive) tickets in town, with reservations required months out.

Allen Pierleoni: 916-321-1128, @apierleonisacbe