As Oliver's approaches its 80th anniversary, the venerable North Buffalo restaurant has a new executive chef: Ross Warhol.
The Hamburg native returned to Buffalo in February and took over the Mansion on Delaware's kitchen, but decided the hotel wasn't a good fit, he said. "With the excitement of getting home to Buffalo, I lost sight of the fact that I was stepping into a hotel and special events organization rather than an everyday restaurant."
Warhol said he's doing a few more events for the Mansion, then is starting in earnest next week. Lennon Lewandowski, his predecessor, held the position for eight years.
Now, at 28 years old, Warhol has one of the highest-profile jobs in Buffalo restaurants, satisfying a discerning clientele that has seen the work of many chefs who've gone on to become stars in their own right. Paul Jenkins, Mark Hutchinson, Brian Mietus, Mike Andrzejewski and Daniel Johengen all held the job previously, and went on to open celebrated restaurants.
As it happens, Johengen gave Warhol his first fine dining job, at Daniels in Hamburg. The Oliver's cycle, Warhol said, has now come full circle.
When he gets the chance to redo the Oliver's menu, he'll keep the spinach loaf, and chicken Milanese - "that's grandfathered into the building," he said - but other dishes will change, he said. Instead of obligatory potato with entrees, he'll offer more grains and vegetables. He also hopes to use more little known local ingredients, including wild foraged ingredients. If one of his plans succeeds, Oliver's will have a staff forager.
Warhol was the Athenaeum Hotel’s chef before leaving the Chautauqua Institution landmark in 2013. He took over the kitchen at the Pelican Club, in Galveston, Texas, where he worked until earlier this year.
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