Philly said a tearful goodbye to chef David Ansill when he packed up his bags for Jamaica in January, never to return. Fast forward to today, Ansill rang up the Eater HQ to announce he's back, and is the new executive chef at Bar Ferdinand. He will slowly make the menu his, adding that unique Ansill spin that made him one of the most avant-garde chefs in Philly during the BYOB revolution of the early 2000s.
But, what happened in Jamaica?
"I got screwed out of a lot of money," Ansill told Eater. "The owner of the bar skipped town for vacation, and owed me a big chunk of cash, and I was stuck."
Ansill added that after he was lured down there, the owner was a control freak, and didn't allow him to change the menu, or the staff he was hired to train. After wowing the proprietor of The Wild Parrot with some simple updates to the less-than-mediocre plates they were creating, she convinced Ansill to leave his job here, and move his family to Jamaica.
"Sadly, it was wrong from day one," said Ansill. "She wouldn't let me fire the cooks who were lazy, and change up the ingredients for better ones. There was a chair in the kitchen, where the other chefs would just sit. A chair! There's no place for a chair in the kitchen."
Ansill was left with no money, and no way home, when Owen Kamihira (owner of Bar Ferdinand and El Camino Real) spotted him some cash to come home. Once back in the states, Kamihira offered Ansill a job at Bar Ferdinand. Ansill said it's a good match.
"I like to cook the peasant-style, modern European foods, and that's what you'll get at Bar Ferdinand," said Ansill. "The menu won't be changing right away, but it'll be coming very soon. It's a perfect fit for me and what I like to do."
Welcome home, Chef Ansill. Don't ever leave us again.
· All David Ansill Coverage [~EPHI~]