Florence Fabricant has the news that Fabio Trabocchi will be the next executive chef at The Four Seasons, replacing Christian Albin, who died suddenly in June of this year.
Frank Bruni awarded three stars to Trabocchi at Fiamma, which restauranteur Stephen Hanson promptly closed at the first whiff of a recession. Trabocchi was bound to land on his feet, and you can’t do any better than this. The Four Seasons is the ultimate recession-proof restaurant.
Frank Bruni demoted the fifty-year-old restaurant to two stars in 2007, finding the service and the cuisine no longer living up to the gorgeous decor and stratospheric prices. In choosing Trabocchi, the owners are clearly hoping to get the third star back—if not more.
The track record of these experiments isn’t good, whether it’s Gary Robins at the Russian Tea Room, Joël Antunès at the Oak Room, or Craig Hopson at One if By Land, Two if By Sea. Great chefs seem routinely to fail in iconic spaces. Or at least, critics say they failed, and they move on to the next gig.
The Four Seasons is a bigger job than Trabocchi has had before, and for the restaurant to be relevant again, the service needs to improve. He has no control over that. It would be nice food at the Four Seasons that would live up to the space, but Trabocchi has his work cut out for him.