Here's a big chef shuffle in the Washington dining scene: Douglas Hernandez, who was known for creating sumptuous desserts at Bibiana, has left his post as head pastry chef at the downtown DC Italian dining room.
Hernandez confirmed his departure by phone, and told us that he's been hired by the Michael Mina Group—they’re behind Bourbon Steak in Georgetown—to help open three new dining concepts in the Four Seasons Baltimore along with the Mina Group's corporate pastry chef, Lincoln Carson, and former Rogue 24 toque Chris Ford.
Like Ford, who was hired by the Mina Group just two hours after resigning from Rogue, Hernandez says he quit with the intention of taking personal time to spend with his family in New York City. But a few days after his departure, Mina came calling—and Hernandez didn't want to miss the opportunity.
"I've held head chef titles before, but coming aboard I've had the opportunity to learn a lot as well," Hernandez says.
For now, the chef is an integral part of testing and planning sweets for Mina's casual tavern, Wit & Wisdom, his cafe, Lamill Coffee, and the izakaya-style Pabu. Once all three are up and running he may take the previously-planned time off, or move to a different Mina location.
Back in DC, Bibiana owner Ashok Bajaj says he has not yet found a replacement for the pastry talent. "I was very sad to see him go," says Bajaj. "He was wonderful, and I was disappointed when he left."
The disappointment was heightened when the Bibiana team—who believed Hernandez was departing for personal reasons—discovered he'd joined another restaurant group. For Hernandez's part, he says there are no hard feelings and that he'll miss the kitchen where he spent the past two years: "There aren't many restaurants in this country like Bibiana," he says. "There are few that take such pride in the ingredients and the product."