Exit stage left. The instrumental chef who launched Scales’ creative menu, adding an edge to New England traditional fare, fries his last squid tonight. To fill Mike Smith’s place in this stunning waterfront restaurant, two chefs step up: Frederic Eliot and Travis Olson.
Smith leaves the top post at Scales in Portland after a four month stint. The Old Orchard Beach native, whose fish chowder and deluxe lobster rolls leave diners agog, has accepted a new role as chef de cuisine at the soon-to-open pizza place from the owners of Central Provisions.
It’s mid-summer, this is a huge 145-seat restaurant and there is a serious chef shortage. But Scales owner Dana Street keeps his cool. “The separation was very amicable. Mike had a desire to work at a smaller place because that’s a style he likes doing,” Street confirmed Friday.
Smith has history with the Goulds, who run Central Prov. They are all apostles of Ken Oringer, the Boston master chef. “We’ve worked with Mikey for a while,” said Paige Gould, who teamed with Smith at Oringer’s Toro in Boston. “It’s always a pleasure. We are excited to work together again.”
Back at Scales, Street seems pumped by his newly appointed co-chefs. Eliot is the skillful French native who made Petite Jacqueline in Longfellow Square a Lyonnaise standout. And Olson, the man behind Scale’s Parker House rolls and brown bread, has deep experience running large-format, urban restaurants in D.C. If it passes muster in the Beltway, Mainers will likely encounter no rough seas in this new regime.
“We will continue to evolve our classic New England fish house menu with an edge,” said Street, whose top chefs have agreed to stay at Scales for a year. “They will bring a lot to the table.”