Edward Martinez — the much-heralded executive pastry chef of Beast + Bounty who was supposed to be top boss at its dessert wing, Milk Money — is no longer involved with either of the Ice Blocks projects and is leaving Sacramento for the Bay Area.
Martinez will be replaced next week by The Grange pastry chef Rebecka Smith, who will also oversee operations at Milk Money, Lowbrau, Beast + Bounty and Block Butcher Bar, according to a news release.
Martinez left the two-Michelin-starred Lazy Bear in San Francisco last year to take over LowBrau’s dessert selection ahead of restaurant co-owner Michael Hargis’ launch of Beast + Bounty on July 31 and the yet-to-open Milk Money.
“I know the restaurant business isn’t easy but Mike and (Beast + Bounty executive chef) Brock (Macdonald) really understand this city and what people are looking for in their bars and restaurants,” Smith said in the release. “They’ve provided a great foundation to build on and I’m proud to work alongside both of them.”
The heavily tattooed Martinez became a media darling for his built-for-Instagram desserts and personal backstory, which includes time spent in Fresno gang life and enrolling in pastry school to sidestep a possible eight-year prison term for assault and battery charges.
He made pastries at Hawks in Granite Bay and Enotria in Sacramento before working for celebrity chefs Tyler Florence (El Paseo and Wayfare Tavern) and Michael Mina (Bourbon Steak, where Smith also worked) in the Bay Area as well as Restaurant Guy Savoy in Las Vegas.
The Bay Area’s high cost of living and the prospect of being reunited with his best friends in the industry brought Martinez back to Sacramento, he said. In an August 2017 interview, he called Sacramento “home” and said despite his exodus, he always wanted to come back.
A commitment to his four children and opportunity to work in higher-profile kitchens were bigger draws, though, and Martinez announced his departure on Instagram and Facebook on Tuesday. He did not appear to have a next job lined up.
“It was a mutual decision to end things. I love Sacramento but the Bay Area is my home,” Martinez said in the Facebook post. “I need to get back to the fine dining scene. I need to be closer to my children and being away from them was too hard for me. There are no hard feeling with anyone from the company. I know they will do well with Rebecka Smith running the show.”
Smith previously worked at Empress Tavern and Block Butcher Bar in Sacramento, Beast + Bounty spokesman Patrick Harbison said. Her Facebook cover photo is a shot of her, Martinez and several other chefs in action, and an old profile picture shows the two of them together as well.
“We’re ecstatic that Rebecka will be moving into this position,” Hargis said in the release. “Moreover we’re proud to have chosen someone local with a strong connection to the community.”
Milk Money, which will feature one specialty doughnut per day as well as rotating house-made ice cream, is scheduled to open in September, Harbison said. Its start date has been pushed back several times, as was Beast + Bounty’s.