Back in November, Jason McLeod won two Michelin stars as the head chef at Ria. Less than two months later he mysteriously left town, and was replaced by Danny Grant. It was shocking at the time, and it was especially confusing when we reported earlier this month that he had popped up in San Diego as a consultant at the La Valenica Hotel. He seemed happy about the change, but he never really explained why he left Chicago. Luckily, the Tribune was able to get the whole story straight from McLeod.
Apparently, McLeod left the restaurant on very “amicable” terms. He had actually thought about leaving the restaurant “before the Michelin Guide was released.” Both he and his wife are from the West Coast, and they had both been living in San Diego before the move here for Ria. While he had “creative control” at Ria, he always wanted to own his own place. When the restaurant decided to close for January, he went ahead and put in his notice.
It’s not exactly the juiciest gossip of the day, but considering how much the Tribune loves the new chef and how much McLeod loves the warm weather in southern California, it looks like it worked out for everyone.