Edmund's Oast lovers, we have bad news. Chef Andy Henderson has turned in his resignation. The young chef who helped push the restaurant beyond just a great brewpub to a restaurant reviewer Robert Moss said "lived up to the hype and then some," is returning to California with his fiance Edmund's Pastry Chef Julia Ingram. But it isn't the likes of some hot San Francisco restaurant that lured him to the West Coast. Rather, Henderson and Ingram are going to become farmers.
"Julia's parents are going to retire soon, and they asked us to take over a farm they own on the Sonoma Coast," says Henderson. The 10 acre plot was bought in 1984 and has been sitting untouched. Ingram's parents were considering selling the land and moving to a townhouse if the couple didn't take it. For Henderson, who has always wanted to farm, the offer was too good to be true.
The chef plans to transform the property into a vegetable and flower farm and give up cooking entirely. "I am not going to be working in another kitchen," he says. "I'm still going to be connected to the restaurant world though." Henderson, who worked in San Francisco before taking the job at Edmund's, still has many contacts in the Bay Area and plans to capitalize on those once the farm is established. But he admits, the move is bittersweet.
"We couldn't be more excited," he says. "But it's very emotional. We just had a big staff meeting and I cried the whole time I was talking about it." Henderson and Ingram have two months left at Edmund's, then Sous Chef Reid Henninger will take over the Executive Chef position. Emily Cookson, formerly of Butcher & Bee, will be the new pastry chef, and Geoff Marquardt has been promoted to manage the food operations at the new brewery set to open in 2016, in addition to all charcuterie production at both locations.
"This is one of those things where they had to make a life decision that we completely support," says Edmund's owner Scott Shor. "I knew going back to the West Coast was their longterm plan. It came sooner than anyone anticipated, but the cool thing is we have the systems in place and extraordinary people here." Shor says he has every confidence that Henninger will be ready to handle the executive chef role, adding "We'll be as good as we've ever been."