Slideshow: See What Winning Chef Scott Manley Is Doing at Table, Donkey and Stick

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It began with Scott Manley competing against six other chefs for the job of chef at Alpine Inn-themed Table, Donkey and Stick. Now he has the job— backed up by another of the competitors, Jon Keeley, who will help get the place launched before joining owner Shin Thompson in his new Randolph-area restaurant in March— and he's putting out the food his pop-up promised. But for Manley it also represents another progression— he's identified with his first and most important mentor, Paul Virant, for whom he cooked for 2-1/2 years, and there are plenty of signs of Virant's porky, farmer's market-focused approach. But Manley hastens to add that Mike Sheerin, for whom he worked at Blackbird, is his other big influence, in the way he uses unexpected contrasts within certain dishes— a creamy accompaniment that might be heavy and thick turns out to be lighter and more contrasting through the use of a farmer's cheese. Whichever mentor you prefer to credit, the care and precision of Manley's execution is unmistakably school of Kahan, and at a higher level than you would guess you'd find in what remains a cozy neighborhood spot on an off-the-beaten path stretch at 2728 W. Armitage. We sampled the final menu on opening night, last night, as our man Huge Galdones took its pictures; check them out below.

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