In chef Bill Taibe’s kitchens at Westport, Connecticut’s leFarm and Whelk, it’s a constant evolution of recipes and ingredients. “It’s Iron Chef every day,” said Connecticut Magazine in its three-and-a-half-star review of Whelk, which Taibe launched in 2012 with regional seafood very much on his mind. (Copps Island oysters, trout gravlax, and Stonington scallops are among the offerings.) The magazine’s experts went on to choose Whelk as Best New Restaurant and Best Seafood, in 2013. Over at leFarm (opened in 2009), what’s seasonal is what’s on the menu in Taibe’s cozy 34-seater, where his farm-to-table cooking led to his nomination for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef/Northeast award in 2011, 2012, and 2013. And in summer 2014, Taibe will bring the flavors of China, Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia to the Westport waterfront, in a new restaurant located in the Saugatuck neighborhood. At the stove, as he has been at leFarm and Whelk, will be executive chef Jeff Taibe, Bill’s brother, who also manned the kitchen at Norwalk’s Oak + Almond. “Imagine the Whelk, but Asian,” Bill told website CT Bites.
The years preceding leFarm and Whelk saw a lot of changes for Taibe, who moved rapidly up the line at restaurants in Port Chester, New York, and Greenwich, Connecticut, to land the executive chef post at G/R/A/N/D, in Stamford, a luxe lounge that garnered three stars from Connecticut Magazine. Eager to open his own place, he launched the successful Relish Food & Wine in 2004 in South Norwalk, Connecticut, and Stamford’s popular Napa & Co. in 2007, combining restaurant, wine shop, and gourmet market.
Taibe has appeared several times on the Martha Stewart Show (Martha’s a fan of his cooking), and he has thrown a series of pop-up dinners he calls Souterrain (“underground”) around town, including one at the Westport Arts Center during its “Foodies” art exhibit.