might've started his restaurant empire with The Continental in 1995
, yet it wasn't until 1998 that Starr dining became fine. That's when his richly opulent Buddakan
(325 Chestnut St.) opened, with executive chef Scott Swiderski
at the helm. So that Swiderski is leaving the Budda as of this Saturday to take a much-needed break and consider his options isn't so very strange.
"I really just wanted some time off to spend with family to start," says Swiderski on the phone during one of his last few days in Buddakan's kitchen. Recharging his batteries. Needing to make changes within himself. These are all valid reasons for him to move away from Buddakan, but he makes no bones about the other options and offers he's heard throughout his dozen years here (15 with Starr when you consider he was at the original Continental prior to the big B). "I am most certainly weighing a lot of options and other deals â including some private chef stuff," says Swiderski. "I've met with a few people recently and talked about a few things. But that's not new. Throughout my time at Buddakan, I talked with interested parties. Either way, nothing's set in stone yet."
Of course other parties were interested. His greatest hit the calamari salad, by his estimation was a smash at Buddakan from day one. "It's the most amazing salad, if I do say so,â says Swiderski. "Even people who don't like calamari love it."
But what about Starr? If other interested parties came calling and Swiderski would consider them, what if Starr came calling again? If SRO any and all offers, would the chef join forces with him again? "Yes Stephen and I have talked about a number of opportunities outside of Buddakan."
This is not the last time they'll work together, and it's certainly not the last time they'll see each other. Starr and Co. are throwing a big family and co-worker bash marking Swiderski's departure at Tangerine
tonight. It's not a roast, insists the chef â at least he thinks not. "I think a lot of people will get their claws in me, but it'll just be a bunch of us getting together to say goodbye," says Swiderski with a laugh. "Besides, I can't stay out too late. I have to take my daughters to school the next morning."
Lastly, Swiderski, who came from Miami by way of New Jersey to take the gig with Starr, will miss Buddakan, its energy and how he fed off of it, to say nothing of this city''s growth as a foodie haven. "It's always busy now, this city," says the chef. "From The Continental to the present, I watched this city turn into a culinary Mecca."