Thursday, November 22, 2007

Feenie Loses Feenie's By: Lezah WIlliamson

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Turns out the Iron Chef's luck just sank lower than the bottom of the bay at Kits Beach.

Rob Feenie, who has been riding high on the crest of the culinary wave that's been sweeping Vancouver over the last ten years, has officially severed relations with his West Broadway restaurants Feenie's and Lumiere.

Lumiere, which won the prestigious Relais Gourmand award in 2000, and Feenie's, which won the Qualitie Awards in 2003, are both Rob Feenie's babies. He started Lumiere twelve years ago; Feenie's has been around for four. Plans were in the works for a chain of Feenie's restaurants to open, riding partly on the reputation of the restaurants themselves, and partly on the reputation of Feenie himself, winner of the 2005 Iron Chef TV challenge.

Unfortunately, as Feenie himself points out, he's a chef, not an accountant. He ended up losing control of the two restaurants two years ago following a $1.2 million upgrade to the kitchen. Turns out that when the dust settled, he was $350,000 in the red and on the verge of declaring bankruptcy; original partner Ken Lei needed to be paid off as well. So investment banker David Sidhoo and wife Manjy stepped in to save the day - or so it appeared...

Fast forward two years, and the Sidhoo's have hired 28 year old Canadian David McKay away from Gordon Ramsey's NYC restaurant to be Executive Chef at Feenie's and Lumiere; Rob Feenie, meanwhile, complains of his diminished role in the the marketing, operations and food selection of 'his' restaurant.

Consequently, as of the beginning of November, Feenie parted company with Feenie's (and Lumiere).

Now, to further complicate matters, the chef at Feenie's has just stepped down.

Sounds like a case of too many chefs spoiling the broth...

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