Michael Rafidi, the chef behind Spanish restaurant Arroz and French restaurant Requin, is parting ways with restaurateur Mike Isabella. The announcement comes days after a former top female employee made public numerous sexual harassment allegations in a lawsuit against Isabella and four of his business partners. Isabella denies creating a hostile work environment or unwanted touching.
Rafidi, however, makes no mention of these allegations in a statement. Then again, he makes no specific reference to Isabella either:
I have decided to step away from my role(s) with Mike Isabella Concepts (MIC). This past year has been an extremely rewarding journey back home to DC and I am grateful for the talented, hardworking teams at Arroz and Requin for all that we were able to accomplish together. I wish the teams all the success in the world and am committed to setting them up for success in my last weeks with the group. I’m excited to be able to focus on the reason I moved home to DC, to fulfill my dream of opening my own restaurant. I recently returned from a trip to Beirut, and will be taking some much needed time off to travel the Levant Region of the Middle East for research and development of my new concept, right here in the District.
A gracious thank you for your support of Arroz and Requin, and I look forward to sharing the next chapter of my culinary journey with you soon.
Rafidi joined Mike Isabella Concepts for the opening of Arroz one year ago after helming the kitchen at RN74, restaurateur Michael Mina’s French restaurant in San Francisco. And while chef Jen Carroll was initially supposed to be chef of Requin, Isabella’s splashy opening at the Wharf, Rafidi ultimately took the lead. (Carroll stepped into a corporate role but has also since left the company.)
In a short period, Rafidi’s cooking gained acclaim and attention from critics; he is a nominee for “Rising Culinary Star of the Year” in this year’s RAMMY Awards.
Washingtonian has contact Rafidi for additional details and will update this story if we hear more.