Restaurant Elize, which took over the Rusty Spoon last year, has named Leon Mazairac executive chef. Mazairac was the 2017 winner, along with sommelier Goos van den Berg, of the Copa Jerez, a food and sherry pairing competition held in Spain, when he was then head chef of Restaurant Podium in Utrecht, the Netherlands. He was also recognized in 2016 for his talent with a prize from French restaurant guide Gault et Millau, and has been the culinary host of a Dutch television show called BinnensteBuiten (Inside Out).
Mazairac’s LinkedIn profile lists his previous post as signature chef at Bernie’s Beachclub in Zandvoort, Netherlands.
In a post on Elize’s website, owner Michelle Lagerweij, who has a similarly named restaurant in Utrecht, wrote: “My vision for restaurant Elize is to have a European gastro bar style establishment; exceptional food and drinks at reasonable prices, all day long. Leon was our missing link to really get started, so I’m very happy he’s here to take control in the kitchen.”
In the same post, Mazairac writes: “I was educated mostly in the classic French style, which I further expanded on while working in Paris with three-star Michelin chefs like Alain Ducasse and Frederic Anton. With my cooking school and restaurants in The Netherlands, I went on exploring alternate styles of food preparation, always focusing on creating beautiful flavors and provocative dishes by keeping things elegant and simple. A style I like to call ‘complexity through simplicity.’”
A spokesman for Elize, Eelco van Beek, said in an email message that the menu is “still a work in progress.” The website has photos of dishes but no names or descriptions. The space has undergone some renovations, as well. Gone, apparently, are the large black and white closeup photos of farm animals, and floors now have a stenciled tile pattern.
Rusty Spoon had been one of the area’s most acclaimed restaurant when it was sold by William and Kathleen Blake to Lagerweij in July. Kathleen Blake had been the restaurant’s chef. She remains in the area and takes on various cooking projects. She was recently named as one of the celebrity chefs to participate in this year’s Orlando Wine Festival and Auction in March.