When it was announced in March that executive chef Kyle Mendenhall was no longer with The Kitchen, it was big news. Mendenhall had been there for eight years and had seen the company through its expansion from Boulder to Denver, Fort Collins, and Chicago. And then suddenly, he was a free agent.

That is, until yesterday when Mendenhall took the job as executive chef at Arcana in Boulder. The restaurant, which focuses on the roots of American cuisine with a devotion to heritage ingredients, opened in February under the direction of chef Matthew Lackey. By April, Lackey was gone and sous Jordan Quidichay took over. Yesterday Quidichay was let go to make way for Mendenhall. That’s a lot of shakeup for a restaurant that’s only three months old.

But if anyone can bring stability to Arcana, it’s Mendenhall. He is a natural leader and his passion for local ingredients and local producers—something he cultivated while at The Kitchen—is paramount, and it’s a perfect fit for Arcana. “There are synergies there from what the restaurant is to the people who work there,” Mendenhall says. Turns out Mendenhall has already worked with many of Arcana’s current staff, including the general manager, two front of the house managers, one of the chefs, and the dishwasher. “It feels like I’m coming home,” he says.

Mendenhall reports for duty on July 7.

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Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.