A chef noted for his robust approach to Louisiana flavors in the French Quarter is taking the helm at an Uptown restaurant that has seen its share of changes in the past year. 

Nathan Richard, formerly chef at Kingfish, is the new executive chef at Cavan, the modern American restaurant built in an old Magazine Street townhouse. Richard is taking over from Ben Thibodeaux, who according to a release from Cavan has stepped down to pursue other opportunities. 

Richard grew up in bayou country around Thibodaux. He has built his career at high-end restaurants, including a early stint at Husk, the acclaimed Southern restaurant from chef Sean Brock in Charleston, South Carolina. He was chef at Kingfish since early 2015, taking over there from chef Greg Sonnier.

Richard gradually put his stamp on the restaurant's modern Cajun menu with dishes like jambalaya risotto and blackened shrimp spaghetti alla puttanesca. He built his own smoker at the restaurant and he devised ever-changing charcuterie boards that always stood out from the pack. In particular, Richard made extensive use of seafood charcuterie here, turning a while bayou catch of catfish, redfish, frog, gator and garfish into pescatarian terrines, salumi and such.

In an interview, Richard said he intends to bring "elevated charcuterie" to Cavan and make whole butchering a bigger part of the kitchen. He said he plans to gradually add more dishes inspired by Southern flavors. His smoker, he noted, will be coming to Cavan too.

Cavan opened in February 2016 at an Uptown address that was never before a restaurant. The property still carries vestiges of genteel living through its connecting parlors, small rooms and corridors, along the sweep of a staircase and out across its front porch.

It was developed by local hospitality group LeBlanc + Smith and the kitchen here was initially led by chef Kristin Essig. She was also chef of Meauxbar, the French Quarter bistro from the same restaurant group. Essig left the company a few months later to become partner at Coquette, and Thibodeaux then took her place at Cavan.

Robert LeBlanc, owner of LeBlanc + Smith, grew up not far from Richard in Houma, which he noted in the announcement of Richard's hire.

“I am really fired up to work with Nathan at Cavan. Not only are we friends, we grew up 10 miles from one another in Houma and Thibodeaux, so we have very similar approaches to food and hospitality,” LeBlanc said in a release. “I cannot wait to see where his vision takes Cavan’s culinary program.” 


3607 Magazine St., 504-509-7655

Dinner daily, lunch Fri., brunch Sun.

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.