Levi Raines, chef and partner of New Orleans’s acclaimed Bywater American Bistro, announced Monday he was parting ways with the restaurant and fellow owners Nina Compton and Larry Miller, also owners of Compere Lapin.
In a heartfelt message posted to Instagram, Raines said he was “stepping down as chef at Bywater American Bistro to pursue other opportunities.” He said he’s spent a lot of time during the pandemic reflecting on his life and career, and that he has “so much love and passion for the hospitality community, it’s hard to imagine making a drastic change.” “However,” he added, “ I am optimistic for whatever the future may hold.”
When reached for comment, Raines told Eater he was “taking the opportunity to step back with a clean slate and make some life changes,” but declined to provide further information.
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It’s with a heavy heart, I’d like to publicly announce that I will be stepping down as Chef at Bywater American Bistro to pursue other opportunities. I am truly grateful to Larry and Nina for all of the opportunities they have provided me, and will miss working with all of my colleagues past and present. Their support, guidance and encouragement have been invaluable in my personal and professional growth. As many of you, I have had a lot of time to reflect on my life and career during this pandemic. I have so much love and passion for the hospitality community, it’s hard to imagine making a drastic change when you’ve devoted your life to something. However I am optimistic for whatever the future may hold. It’s been an amazing five years with the group and two years at BABs. I wish the best to all of my hospitality family out there and can’t wait to see how they evolve and push the restaurant forward to new heights upon returning from the pandemic. I couldn’t tag everyone, here are a handful of photos from the years. Thank you everyone from the bottom of my heart. Cheers to the future!
The chef and Eater Young Gun (’19) worked alongside Compton as sous chef at her nationally recognized Warehouse District restaurant Compere Lapin for three years before helping open Bywater American Bistro. It was after just one year working in the kitchen at Compere that Miller and Compton approached him about being a partner in their next project, saying at the time that they wanted to give Raines a “platform” with the restaurant. Bywater American Bistro made its highly-anticipated debut in March 2018 to both local fanfare and national critical praise.
In a statement sent to Eater, Miller and Compton said: “We have parted ways with chef Levi Raines. He has decided to explore other avenues professionally and as longtime friends and collaborators we support him. We wish him nothing but the best and hope he finds success and happiness his next chapter.”
Eater is tracking the impact of the novel coronavirus on the city’s restaurant industry. Have a story to share? Reach out at email@example.com.