Last week Bacchanalia's chef-owners Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison announced that David “Andy” Carson would be promoted from his longtime position as chef de cuisine to executive chef. That meant its current head chef, Daniel Porubiansky, would be moving on.
Porubiansky has cooked in Atlanta’s finest restaurants for the last two decades: He worked with Guenter Seeger for twelve years, has been in Quatrano and Harrison’s employment for nine years, and in the mid-2000s he even briefly led the kitchen at the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead. But Porubiansky, who is 47, felt ready to try a new direction. Woodstock’s Century House Tavern, which opened last year, has been looking for a new chef during the last couple months, and Porubiansky, who lives in Woodstock, was asked if he had any ideas. He did. After a bit of negotiating, general manager and co-owner Jon Hayano offered Porubiansky partnership in the restaurant, where he will also be executive chef.
The new gig is six miles from his house (he and his wife have four children), a much easier commute than to Bacchanalia, obviously. The restaurant, located in a restored historic building once known as the Hubbard House, is in the middle of Woodstock Downtown’s bustling renovated district (a few blocks from Vingenzo’s, one of our Top 50 restaurants) and is already popular with the locals.
This will be the first time that Porubiansky has a stake in the restaurant, a defining decision for the job change. He starts officially at the end of April, and plans to slowly tweak the menu—a mix of sandwiches and, on the dinner menu, entrees like braised lamb shank, chicken and dumplings, and risotto with Gulf shrimp and crab.
“Food-wise, I don’t think I’m ever going to bring a Bacchanalia or Seeger’s to Woodstock,” he says. “Century House Tavern is a casual place, but I can use fine-dining techniques and bring the products of local farmers into the restaurant. In every place I’ve been, the menu started with fantastic ingredients. What the restaurant does now is very good, and I think I can make it better. So I won’t be introducing foie gras and sweetbreads and truffles right away, but I don’t see why in two years I can’t. To begin, I’ll introduce weekend specials, and if a dish clicks with the customers, we’ll put it on the menu.”
The change doesn’t come without some lament. “It’ll be sad to leave Bacchanalia,” said Porubiansky, who is still running the restaurant’s kitchen for a few more weeks. “I feel like part of the family and it’ll be hard to leave. But I’m excited to go out on my own and be responsible for making a restaurant succeed.”
Photograph of Daniel Porubiansky: Christopher Hornaday Photography