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Daniel Godinez Leaves Maestro, His First LA County Project, After Just Eight Months

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The modern Mexican chef is heading back to Orange County

Daniel Godinez
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Modern Mexican chef Daniel Godinez is out at Maestro in Pasadena after only eight months, though he will remain a partner in the current iteration of the project. That’s according to a note sent around by Godinez’s team last night, saying that the popular Orange County chef would be moving on “effective immediately.”

More specifically, the note came from Godinez’s reps at Anepalco Restaurant in Orange, where the chef made a name for himself as a vibrant ambassador to modern Mexican flavors. When the announcement to bring Maestro to Pasadena was first made it seemed to be the perfect opportunity for Godinez to deliver his message to a wider audience, but along the way there were a couple of big-name critical snags. Jonathan Gold, for his part, found the cooking to be less than soulful, while Besha Rodell of the LA Weekly considered some of Godinez’s flavors to be surprisingly timid.

Now Godinez is heading back to Orange County full-time, leaving behind the following note:

Chef Godinez expects Maestro Restaurant will announce changes on its menu and its new chefs in the very near future. Until further notice, Chef Godinez remains an owner and investor in Maestro.

He also goes on to wish Maestro the best in the future.

The overall modern Mexican movement that has been bubbling up within (or coming from outside to) Los Angeles seems to have run into a few snags along the way. Eduardo Ruiz was forced to close his restaurant Corazon y Miel last summer, while the highly anticipated Verlaine got dragged by Rodell and quickly issued a notice about having to revamp the cocktail program and win over customers who came in early on in the opening and were bummed out about the experience.

Still, things are looking bright for modern Mexican cuisine in LA. The annual Tacolandia continues to be an inspiration, bringing in local chefs and others from Mexico to offer unique food to thousands, while Ray Garcia’s Broken Spanish is doing some of its best stuff right now. Even Enrique Olveras thinks so, as he’ll be coming to Los Angeles to open a Cosme sometime next year.