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Chez Ben’s Chef Appears to Have Left After Just Two Months

Before joining the Old City restaurant, Paras Shah opened Barcelona — but quit a few months in

Paras Shah in the kitchen at Barcelona in July 2017
Hillary Messman

It looks like Paras Shah is already moving on from Chez Ben in Old City. The chef joined the new restaurant when it opened in March.

A tipster alerted Eater to Shah’s departure, and his position went up on multiple job sites on May 1. The executive chef job is posted on Simply Hired and Indeed, as well as the website of PM Hotel Group, a management company that works with the Renaissance Downtown Philadelphia, the hotel where Chez Ben is located.

Shah’s publicist confirmed the chef’s last day at Chez Ben is May 24. Shah is leaving to develop a fast-casual paella restaurant named Fuego y Arroz. It won’t be in Philly, though Shah and co-owner Jeffrey Weiss envision it as a chain in the future. It sounds like a build-your-own paella concept. They declined to name the location, but have a spot picked out.

Shah came to Philadelphia from New York last summer to open Barcelona on East Passyunk Avenue but quit in October, after just a few months at the buzzy wine and tapas spot. He resurfaced less than two months ago at Chez Ben and M Brown’s, the new French restaurant and its accompanying bar inside the Renaissance at 400 Chestnut Street (formerly the Omni).

Barcelona, part of a chain owned by the Connecticut-based Barteca restaurant group, opened at 1709 E. Passyunk Avenue in July 2017. When Shah resigned in early October, he explained he was ready to get out of the kitchen. “More than anything else, it was putting in so many hours and not being able to dedicate time to my family,” Shah, at the time 41, said of quitting Barcelona. “That’s been weighing on me quite a bit. It’s not an older person’s game to be in the kitchen 15, 16, 17 hours a day. I want to learn how to have a work-life balance.”

Shah revealed he was working on a Spanish restaurant with Weiss, author of Charcutería: The Soul of Spain, and had plans to leave Philly. But in March 2018, he popped back up at Chez Ben in the executive chef role. At the time, Shah’s publicist told Eater the chef was still very much moving forward on his project with Weiss and the pair had just returned from a research trip in Spain.

Update: May 15, 2018, 10:25 a.m.: This article was updated to include a confirmation from Paras Shah’s publicist and information on his upcoming restaurant.

Chez Ben

400 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106 Visit Website