When his twins Liliana and Mariana were born prematurely in August, chef Eamonn McParland said his life changed in an instant.
“We spent a month in the NICU with them and I had a lot of time to reflect on where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do,” McParland said. “I knew that if I didn’t make a move now, I might end up settling.”
McParland has been at the forefront in South Bend’s restaurant culture since he arrived 11 years ago. He initially cut his teeth in the kitchens of local favorites like Fiddler’s Hearth before moving on and up the ladder at local fine dining restaurants LaSalle Grill and Cafe Navarre. Eventually, McParland partnered with Bryan Robertson and Hilary Maich and, in 2016, the trio opened Render Kitchen and Bar at 521 E. Jefferson Blvd. in the East Bank neighborhood.
With Robertson and Maich focusing on the dining room and bar aspect and McParland leading the menu and kitchen, the restaurant offers self-described contemporary meals that are made in house and sourced from local, seasonal ingredients.
“I really put my heart and soul into this menu,” McParland said in 2016.
And anyone who has enjoyed a meal at Render understands McParland’s passion in combining unique, seasonal flavors all while highlighting local ingredients.
The partnership also expanded their ventures, opening Fat Cap Smoked Meats in 2017 in Roseland and bar Remedy on South Bend Avenue in March 2019, which was subsequently closed 10 months later.
But with the birth of the twins and an itch to do something different, McParland said, something needed to change. So early last week, he announced his decision to step away.
“It was a difficult decision and there were a lot of factors that go into it,” McParland said. “I appreciated my creative license and to do whatever I wanted to do in the kitchen. … (But) I ran out of room to grow, not with the food, but I wanted to have a bit more control over the other aspects of the restaurant.”
Both McParland and Robertson said the decision to break up the partnership was an amicable one, simply saying things change. With the coronavirus pandemic effectively shutting down restaurants for several months, the former partners thought now would be a good time to make a clean split.
“We just decided to part ways,” Robertson said. “Eamonn has been a great chef and partner to us and we worked five years together, but we each just decided to do something different.”
Robertson said a new chef will soon be filling McParland’s shoes at Render and the restaurant plans to reopen for carryout in the next week and will begin welcoming diners back for in-house meals in June. Robertson alluded to some changes coming to the restaurant, but the concept will remain the same.
“Render is not changing,” he said.
For McParland, his future is wide open.
“I’m not boxing myself in at all,” he said. “I’ve looked into a few things, but I have plans in the future and I am going to stay in food and restaurants. … I’ve only been here for 11 years, but — and I hate the word grind but — I’ve been grinding ever since and really trying to make something happen. And now with my experience of opening up other restaurants, I feel like now is the time to do my own.”
McParland said while he will likely continue to focus on highlighting local ingredients and vendors in his plans, nothing is entirely set in stone about what his new concept will be or where it will be. He also admitted he would be a fool to open a new restaurant in the current climate and will take the time to take a much needed break and enjoy the time being with his family. And thanks to a supportive community and family, McParland said, he has no worries.
“I have several people who are interested in working with me in whatever I do and my family is willing to help me.” McParland said. “And at this young age, most people don’t have time to spend with their family and kids. I’m looking at it on the bright side and this is when (the babies’ brains) are like sponges and absorb everything so I want to be there for that.”
Have you heard?
Mishawaka Farmers Market opens for the season today from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Central Park, 295 E. Mishawaka Ave. Organizers ask customers to maintain social distancing, use exact change or cards when paying, pre-order if possible, know what you’d like to purchase and wear a face mask if possible. The market will continue to be on Sundays through September. … Beginning on May 24, retail stores can open at 75% occupancy, gyms can reopen with restrictions and movie theaters can reopen at 50% occupancy. … As a heads-up, I will be unavailable next week so there will be no Wednesday or Sunday column.
Source: Thanks https://www.southbendtribune.com/news/business/marketbasket/chef-eamonn-mcparland-steps-away-from-render-kitchen-and-bar-to-pursue-his-own-path/article_5eb528b0-9550-11ea-9bc2-874bd3f043ad.html