Chef Blair Machado takes over as The Park Cafe’s new Executive Chef, moving into the position after Chef John Amato decided to take a step back from the restaurant world. “We adore him,” says Park Cafe co-owner Karalee Fallert of Amato. “He is obviously a big part of our team.”

As Park Cafe’s head chef since its opening in Feb. 2014, Amato played a central role in the restaurant’s success. Inspiring such hashtags as #meetamato on The Park Cafe’s Instagram, the chef was very clearly a large part of the restaurant’s bigger picture: creating fresh food in a neighborhood setting.

“It seemed really clear that Blair could maintain the consistency. He understands simple and refined food,” says Fallert. She explains that because the restaurant offers breakfast and lunch everyday and dinner service Mon.-Sat., things can get complicated pretty fast. Fortunately, Machado has been with Park Cafe since the beginning, and Fallert says he understands how to execute each meal service. Originally from Virginia, Machado has been working in kitchens since he was in high school, with his most recent Charleston gigs pre-Park Cafe at Lana, Warehouse, and FIG.

“Blair’s extremely talented,” says Fallert. She says that she and co-owner Xan McLaughlin talked to “quite a few people” in their hunt for a new chef. “We wanted to leave no stone unturned,” she explains. Amato let Fallert know a few months ago that he planned on leaving the restaurant industry; according to Fallert he’s looking into consulting.

But Amato’s departure doesn’t mean an entirely new menu. Fallert promises that some of The Park Cafe’s most beloved dishes will be “seasonally institutionalized.” Yes, that means you’ll always have your avocado toast. We’re breathing a sigh of relief too.

With a background in butchering (he calls himself a “meat ninja” and breaks down entire animals, making sure no parts go to waste), Machado will bring some new meat dishes into the fold, such as whipped corn beef farrotto with stewed ribeye. 

“We’re looking forward to allowing Blair to spread his wings,” says Fallert. 

Machado’s first official day as executive chef is this Sun., July 12.