The chef who guided Brennan's Restaurant through its return and revival has cooked his last meal at the French Quarter landmark.  

Slade Rushing has departed the historic Royal Street restaurant, proprietor Ralph Brennan confirmed Thursday. Brennan said a search will begin for a new executive chef. 

“It is the sincere wish of everyone at Brennan's New Orleans that Slade's future endeavors bring him the utmost success, and we look forward to identifying the next generation of culinary leadership for the restaurant," Brennan said in a statement.

"We are confident our well-established culinary team will continue to honor the origins of New Orleans cuisine which has been the foundation of our menus infused with contemporary precision."

In an interview, Rushing said he was exploring new career opportunities. 

"I just want to make sure everyone knows I felt really lucky to work for the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group,” Rushing said. “Brennan’s has been a huge learning curve for me. They have a great team and I know they’re going to continue to shine there."

Brennan's is one of the largest restaurants in New Orleans. Its kitchen has a staff of more 40. 

Famous for its lavish "breakfast at Brennan's," for bananas Fosters, the dessert invented in its kitchen, and for its Old World ambiance, the restaurant also looms large in the history and culture of New Orleans dining.

Part of Rushing's work since joining Brennan's in 2014 was to chart a new culinary identity for the old classic.   

After a year of New Orleans’ particular seasons, sizing up 'new' Brennan’s on Royal Street _lowres

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Crepes Fitzgerald, a classic dish from Brennan's, is still prepared tableside at the landmark restaurant.

Brennan's, which originally opened on Bourbon Street, moved in 1956 to a property in the 400 block of Royal that dates to 1795. It was here that the Brennan family established themselves as leading New Orleans restaurateurs and set a path that generations and various branches of the family have followed through many other restaurants.  

The historic restaurant had fallen on hard times, however, when Ralph Brennan, a cousin of its former operators, and his business partner Terry White bought the Royal Street building in 2013 at a foreclosure auction and later acquired its name

After an overhaul that essentially redesigned and rebuilt the restaurant from the inside out, Brennan's reopened in November 2014.  

Rushing was at the helm from the start, charged with bringing back dishes steeped in the restaurant's lore but also establishing a more contemporary culinary voice for the next generation. 

“We’re approaching it as a new future for Brennan’s,” Rushing said in a 2014 interview just before Brennan's reopened. “This was a landmark restaurant, it had its run and now we’re bringing a fresh approach.”

The restaurant has been a high-profile showplace of modern New Orleans dining ever since. In April, Brennan's made the New Orleans Advocate's list of 10 restaurants defining the heart of New Orleans dining in 2019.  

Each year since 2015, Rushing has been a finalist for the James Beard Foundation's award for Best Chef, South.  

Prior to joining Brennan's, Rushing and his wife Allison Vines-Rushing served as co-chefs of MiLa in downtown New Orleans, which later closed. Before that, they had operated their own restaurant, Longbranch in Abita Springs, from 2005 to 2007.

A cookbook the couple co-authored, “Southern Comfort:  A New Take on the Recipes We Grew Up With,” was released in 2012.

 Brennan's Restaurant

417 Royal St., 504-525-9711


Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.