Boulevard executive chef Pamela Mazzola has worked alongside Nancy Oakes for over two decades, and being a partner in Prospect the large new restaurant they opened along with Kathy King last summer she's spent several days a week in the kitchen working alongside chef Ravi Kapur, whom she and Oakes had trained from his days as a line cook eight years ago. Thus it makes perfect sense, following last week's announcement that Kapur would be stepping down as exec at Prospect to spend more time with his family, that it should be Mazzola who will take over day-to-day duties overseeing the kitchen. "I've still been running back and forth a lot," says Mazzola of her double duties at Boulevard, a few blocks away. "But I think now maybe Nancy will be doing more of the running."
Mazzola explains that she and the team had known for a while that Kapur may be on his way out, and they've been preparing for the transition. She had also been covering the kitchen full time during Kapur's paternity leave, and during a recent vacation, so the time she's been spending at Prospect has already increased in recent months.
As for how the menu may change under her command, she says it won't be anything too dramatic. "I think it will morph a little bit," she says. "The spirit of the restaurant was developed at the very beginning. But of course every chef has things they’re going to tweak. I would say maybe one thing that I’m a little more comfortable with and which I may start doing soon is that the menu will change a little more frequently."
She explains that most of the relationships with farmers and producers are shared with Boulevard, but that Kapur had developed a newer relationship with McCormack Ranch, from which Prospect will continue to source their goat. And she's excited to start putting some new produce on the menu as the fall season gets underway. "You’ve got this amazing palate you can choose from right now," she says. "We still have summer vegetables, tomatoes, beans, the corn is still good. Artichokes are coming on strong again, and I’ve just got a line on some sand dabs." Look for her to be adding a dish of local sand dabs seared on the plancha with a fritto of artichokes and lemon with Sicilian caper and wild fennel aioli.
Hiring a replacement for Kapur may still be in the cards, but Mazzola will stay at the helm for the time being, and the team will likely just promote someone from within, just as they did with Kapur. "The team of sous chefs we have is extremely strong," she tells us. "They’re really instrumental in the day-to-day, minute-to-minute of the restaurant. We’ve always tried to develop people from within. Ravi’s a perfect case in point. He’s an exceptional case, but we have some extraordinary people working for us now as well."