After two years of creating and refining the gastro-pub grub at the Bank Street Brewhouse in New Albany, chef Joshua Lehman’s last day there will be April 3.
Lehman’s food was first rate and unlike most anything you’d find in this market.
He ably grasped and shared the vision of Bank Street’s owners in creating a U.S. version of a Franco-Belgian pub, a feat few thought would succeed in New Albany.
Now he’s stepping out of the high-stress executive chef’s role to take a breather by signing on as a cook at Harvest, the farm-to-table restaurant owned by local farmer Ivor Chodkowski.
It’s set for a late April opening (fingers crossed) in the NuLu section of Market Street.
“What I definitely learned in my first executive chef’s job is that it’s not as easy as it looks,” said Lehman, laughing. “You’re being reviewed every single day by everyone, and that was a hardcore realization for me.
“Being the perfectionist I am, I thought it was a good time to step back and look at things from a different perspective and take a breather for a while.”
Lehman’s new boss will be executive chef Coby Ming, who most recently worked at Wiltshire on Market and Wiltshire Pantry catering. He said he’s looking forward to learning from Ming “who is super talented and super organized. She’s a real pro, and I hope some her personality rubs off on me.”
He’ll be working alongside former Wiltshire baker P.J. Knight, and his former sidekick at Le Relais Bistro, Andy McCabe, who most recently worked at Chicago hotspots L2O (under chef Laurent Gras) and Blackbird (under chef Paul Kahan).
“Coby is putting together an unbelievable team, and I just wanted to be a part of that,” he said.
According to a press release from Bank Street, general manager Joe Phillips bid Lehman a happy farewell and said the team there was gratified to “play a part in his dream of becoming an executive chef by the age of 30. Good luck, Josh!”
Replacing Lehman will be team members chef Matthew Weirich and sous chef Bernie Collier and staff. Phillips said neither the food nor the culinary mission there will change in Lehman’s absence.
Co-owner and self-dubbed “carnival barker” Roger Baylor added in the release, “I cannot thank him enough for proving conclusively that downtown New Albany can support finer dining, and by extension, illustrating in broader terms that fine dining with a craft beer underpinning (and not an extensive wine list) is a viable proposition financially as well as artistically.”
Lehman said his work at Bank Street was “definitely fun, especially to be the first ones around here to put any type of truly decent food and good beer together.”
He said he’ll always be proud of his role in helping trigger the gastro-pub movement here, evidenced in spots such as the Holy Grale and The Blind Pig. “I’ll also miss new Albany for sure, because I made a lot of friends there. And though it took two years, we’ve developed a real solid base of customers there.”
He said his only regret about leaving Bank Street is he never had time enough to collaborate more with the brewing side of the operation.
“We definitely wanted to do a lot more beer dinners and I wanted to work with the beer more,” he began. “But there’s so much hustle and bustle that keeps you from doing all the things you want outside of your own are, and I figure part of it is just being new to it all. We did some great beer dinners, but I wish we could have done more.
“Just not enough time.”