Brett Fife considers it an honor to take over the kitchen at the German Village restaurant.
Many restaurants change chefs, sometimes frequently.
That's not big news - unless it is a restaurant like Lindey's.
One of Columbus' premier dining destinations and a favorite in German Village, the restaurant recently installed Brett Fife as executive chef.
"It's a huge thing," Fife said. "It's a great honor to be considered for this position."
Fife took the place of Jon O'Carroll, who works in the kitchen at Abercrombie & Fitch, which is run by the Bon Apptit Management Co. (O'Carroll said he departed Lindey's on amicable terms.)
Lindey's is commonly referred to as a classic American bistro, an upscale-casual stop featuring steaks, chops and lots of fresh seafood. Fife said he honors the restaurant's tradition and the loyal customers who have made it a success.
Yet, he has a little latitude with the menu. For example, he recently composed a plate of fresh Ohio sweet corn, baby carrots, English peas, roasted Yukon gold potatoes and roasted halibut drizzled with lobster tarragon beurre blanc. Above-average summer temperatures have had patio diners seeking a cool retreat in the traditional gazpacho and one of Fife's own creation that uses yellow tomatoes and pineapple.
Fife said he is working on a fall menu that will pay homage to autumn with some rib-sticking dishes.
"It will be exciting to come around this fall and try some new things," he said.
A native of Lapel, Indiana, Fife received a bachelor's degree in sociology from Hanover College. He moved to Columbus to be with his wife, Erin Kemple of Worthington. When a degree in law enforcement didn't pan out, he moved on to "plan B" - the restaurant industry. Fife said he worked a flattop grill at the student union in college. He graduated from the Columbus State Community College culinary program and held positions in a number of local restaurants, including Cap City, Hyde Park and Oscar's.
Fife was a sous chef at Brio - which, along with Bravo, was founded by the Doody family, but is no longer owned by them - for almost 18 months. Customer volume at the Easton restaurant gave him a solid background for Lindey's, another busy restaurant, he said.
Matt Harding, former executive chef at Lindey's, said working at the iconic restaurant is challenging, but also a great opportunity.
"It can help define people's careers," said Harding, the corporate chef for Bravo. "There's been a lot of talent that's gone through that restaurant over the years. I think it's going to be one of the toughest job he's ever had, but also one he's going to love the most."
German Village resident Bill Curlis, a regular at Lindey's, said he hasn't noticed any significant changes in the food. Not that he is complaining.
"It's a good thing," Curlis said. "All the old standards are there. And I look forward to seeing what new innovations (Fife) might bring along."