Butcher and Bee's East Nashville location is still a few months out from opening, and already there are changes in the kitchen, as owner Michael Shemtov confirms with Eater that they have parted ways with previously announced executive chef Eyhab "Happy" Hatab. But in his place steps Bryan Lee Weaver, a veteran of the west coast dining scene and current executive chef at popular Los Angeles restaurant Superba Snack Bar.
Hatab left the project at the beginning of August, with Shemtov telling Eater that he "is a talented chef and we don't want to take anything away from him, but our culture is the most important thing we have, and at the end of the day, we just looked at the world in a different way" and "[u]ltimately felt like we would be more successful looking elsewhere and he would be more successful in a different environment."
Weaver, who was the sous chef when Superba opened in Venice, Calif. in July of 2012, says he met Shemtov about a year ago:
It was kind of cool how it happened. One of our current servers introduced me to Michael, and we talked about doing a pop-up at Butcher and Bee. Then Michael was out in California recently, flying out of LA, and he called me and came and had dinner at Superba. I happened to see two days later that he was looking for a chef in Nashville, and I started thinking about it. I had thought about moving to Nashville a couple of years ago, after I staged at Husk. My parents live in Kentucky, and I have a brother that lives in the Midwest, and I was just looking to get closer to my family.
Soon after Weaver was offered the executive chef position at Superba. But he says that "now is the right time to take on a new challenge" and make the move to Nashville.
Early test runs of Butcher and Bee's menu certainly showed a heavy Middle Eastern influence, which both Weaver and Shemtov say will be "dialed back" a bit, but that dishes and spices from that region will still play a role. Weaver's menus at Superba tend to have a focus on vegetables, with the chef making runs to the local farmers market three to four times a week for fresh produce. He also says that he "is big into zero waste, utilizing everything he possibly can."
So be sure to check back for updates and to see how the project and menu continue to evolve.