One of downtown Worthington's most recognizable fixtures has hung up his apron.

One of downtown Worthington's most recognizable fixtures has hung up his apron.

Rich Flagg, as known for his personality as the dishes he creates, has left his position as chef at Rivage Atlantique to return to his home and family in South Carolina.

Colleen Pendergast, who has worked as sous chef alongside Flagg since the restaurant opened in 2011, has been named head chef.

"It is sad to see Rich gone," Pendergast said.

She said she expects to continue serving many of the dishes for which the restaurant has become known. For example, the locally famous shrimp and grits still will be on the menu, as will Oysters Rivage and the revolving daily specials, all of which Flagg created based on what came in fresh from the East Coast on the morning flight.

"I played a key role in the daily specials," Pendergast said. "Some dishes, like the beet salad, were mine. I have worked the line every night."

She won't try to re-create Flagg's unusual charm or his distinctive Boston/Southern drawl, though.

Flagg was born in Boston, moved to South Carolina as a child and worked as a chef in both places before being recruited by Rivage owners Brett Holland and Bill Cosgrove to come to Worthington to open Rivage three years ago.

Holland said it was difficult to let Flagg go, but he understood his chef wanted to spend more time with his children, who are now in high school.

Pendergast will be able to handle the job well and will add her own flair to the position, he said.

A native of Van Wert and a graduate of Hocking College's culinary program, Pendergast has honed her skills at Shawnee Country Club, where she worked from 2004 to 2006; at the Athletic Club of Columbus, where she was banquet chef in 2006 and 2007; and G. Michael's in German Village, where she was lead line chef from 2007 to 2010.

She was sous chef at Mezzo Gahanna in 2010 and 2011 and prepared food for the Memorial Tournament in 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2014.

Pendergast said she plans to add some new, cafe-style items to the Rivage menu and to continue the "half-plate" seafood dishes, which were added this summer and have proven popular.