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Trump Tower Restaurant Chef Departs, Citing Election As One Reason For Leaving

By Anthony Todd in Food on Jan 25, 2017 6:02PM

The dining room at Sixteen.

Remember how, back in December, I urged everyone to be calm and not to blame Sixteen for being in Trump Tower? That's still true, but the restaurant just lost its chef, in part because of the election of the great orange one.

Last week, Chef Thomas Lents, the chef who spent four years at Sixteen and helped it keep two Michelin stars, announced he was departing for Detroit. The Detroit Free Press initially reported the departure last week, and Lents told them that there were a number of reasons he was looking for a change. He's excited about the possibilities in the rapidly re-developing city, his life priorities have changed in the wake of a cancer diagnosis, and he grew up in Battle Creek, Michigan.

But also, buried in the interview, were a few choice bits about the man whose name is on the building Lents used to work in.

His cancer now in remission, Lents conceded that the recent presidential election also had an impact on his decision to leave the luxury restaurant on the sixteenth floor of Trump Tower Chicago.

"I've been very lucky to work with some very talented and very caring people inside the hotel," he said. "That being said, the election has been difficult for everyone involved and frustrating to see all the great product that's been put out by this hotel suffer because of situations that are outside of our control."

It's not entirely clear if Lents is making a political statement, or if he's referring more to the fact that the election has brought unique business challenges to anyone associated with Trump, not to mention the barricades and protestors that must have interrupted his commute.

[Update: A representative of Lents reached out to confirm that the Chef did not leave for political reasons; instead he "simply wanted to return back to his home state."]

Rumor has it that Nick Dostal, the chef de cuisine, will be taking over the top job. Dostal was nominated for a Jean Banchet award for best Chef de Cuisine and has been with Sixteen since 2015.