The restaurant many call Asheville’s best has a new chef, 26-year-old Ivan Candido.
It’s huge news in Asheville’s culinary world as one of its tastiest eateries sees previous chef Elliott Moss depart to begin his own venture, Buxton Hill Barbecue, in Asheville’s up-and-coming South Slope area. (The Admiral is seeing more shakeup in the kitchen as Mike Moore also departs to build his own restaurant, Seven Sows in downtown Asheville.)
Self-taught and with previous experience at Savoy, the young Mexican-born chef moved up through the ranks from dishwasher to line cook–and now to chef in a restaurant that’s received praise from Southern Living and the New York Times.
Mackensy Lunsford and Asheville Scene have the scoop:
…don’t expect a big change in format, Candido said. “I want to keep it the same,” he said. “At the same time I want to do more molecular stuff. But I want to do it in a different way than everyone’s done it before. I have a lot of cool ideas and techniques … I’m just waiting to take my place and start doing my thing.”
Even though some of the flavors of Candido’s heritage will turn up on The Admiral’s menu, they’ll do so in unexpected ways. Recently, Candido twisted up tamales, but they were made with beets and goat cheese and served with grouper, smoked fingerling potatoes, Brussels sprouts and an ancho consomme. One of the most ubiquitous Latin herbs, cilantro, turned up on the dish, but in the form of an edible paper. Candido said many of the Latin flavors he incorporates will show up as similarly creative molecular techniques, like the foams he learned to make under former chef (Drew) Maykuth.
Latin flavors won’t infuse everything; Candidio already turns out thoroughly Admiral dishes like pork belly with smoked chocolate and salted peanuts. A vegetarian beet pasta, served with a 64-degree egg, crisp parsnip chips and baby lima beans, was anything but Latin. It also means Candido is interested in making hearty meat-free dishes (vegetarians take note). Candido also plans to stop changing the menu so frequently — once or twice a week instead of nightly — so people have more opportunities to try a dish they might have heard about.
Candido takes the reins in March.