Heirloom Kitchen executive chef and Top Chef alum David Viana joins editors Callie Evergreen and Sam Danley in the launch of the very first episode of "The Restaurant Innovator," a podcast by FSR. Viana reveals his new revolutionary team structure, designed to burn down the boundary between front-of-house and back-of-house employees, plus mitigate the ever-common burnout of restaurant workers.
All hourly employees (except for bar staff) will be fully cross trained and rotate working between the restaurant floor and in the kitchen each week, and will share tips equally. Viana's goal? To create transparency and equality around pay, which historically has been based on hierarchy in the restaurant industry, and has created disparities between FOH and BOH workers.
With this unique model and structure, Viana offers an elevated hospitality experience for both customers and team members.
Also, we'll talk about his new NextGen Casual restaurant, Lita—an Iberian restaurant opening on April 26—which is bringing new life to Portuguese cuisine in Newark, New Jersey, and how Viana is updating family recipes with modern techniques.
Lita is a love letter to Viana's family, who immigrated from Portugal to Newark, New Jersey, in the 1970s. The restaurant is named after Viana's mother, Rosa Lita, who taught him to cook alongside his grandma, Isaura. Modern twists on traditional Iberian dishes will take center stage at the restaurant, where most of the menu will be cooked in an open-fire hearth oven which sits in the middle of the dining room. Guests will start with "Essenciales," a shareable collection of lighter bites and tapas, before delving into a bevy of charred vegetables, rich stews, fresh seafood, and meat dishes like piri piri chicken, bitoque, and crispy paellas.
Viana co-owns Lita, Heirloom Kitchen, and Heirloom Kitchen at The St. Laurent with his business and life partner, Neilly Robinson, who acts as managing director.
This summer, Viana and his team will open La Otra, an intimate neighborhood cocktail bar located next door to Lita in Aberdeen Township, New Jersey.
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