Chef’s Table XII is upscale American fine dining at its finest.
By Mary Meldrum
Photos provided by Chef’s Table XII
The long-anticipated opening of Chef’s Table XII in Farmington Hills this February was overshadowed by the recent sudden death of its owner and visionary, Chef Tony Gojcaj, at age 53.
An immigrant from Montenegro, Chef Tony started as a dishwasher in Detroit. He moved to New York and began his cooking career. Eventually returning to Michigan in 2005, he enjoyed an illustrious career as a chef and owner of landmark restaurants such as the Sugar Bowl in Gaylord, the Willow Tree in West Branch and Copper Falls Rok and Grille in Traverse City.
In loving memory of his life and his vision for his most recent acquisition and creation, Chef’s Table XII, his wife, Ophilia, has pressed on through her grief to open his restaurant and carry on his tradition of hospitality and fine food.
BUILDING ON A CLASSIC
Chef’s Table XII is located in the former Tribute restaurant at 12 Mile and Orchard Lake roads and is now open for dinner Monday through Saturday, with lunch available for special events. Preserving the highly specialized and substantial architecture and art of Tribute, Chef’s Table XII is a feast for the eyes long before you taste anything from the kitchen.
In its time, Tribute was the only true five-star restaurant in Michigan. A destination for many connoisseurs in the entire nation, Tribute attracted the likes of Andrew Lloyd Webber and other celebrities as well as auto executives from GM, Ford and Chrysler. It’s clear that Chef Tony truly understood and appreciated the history, tradition and expression that Tribute represented and set about to revive the property that sat vacant for seven years.
The results are beautiful. I breathed a soft “wow” when I entered the front door. The attention to details and the architecture is very special. The lobby floor is constructed with gorgeous stone; the metal fixtures in the walls and railings are heavy and real — no plastic or fillers.
THE CHEFS AND THEIR TABLE
The enormous kitchen is on the lower level of the restaurant. This is where the actual table is located that gives the restaurant its name. The “Chef’s Table” is a large, square table that seats up to 12 people. Reservations for at least eight people are required to get this space, and there is no menu available for guests who sit there. This is where inspiration from the kitchen is created and served. Guests are to be uniquely surprised by the offerings.
The unexpected death of Chef Tony just prior to the opening of Chef’s Table XII put an added strain on the selection of the kitchen staff, who work in the same space as patrons seated at the Chef’s Table. Chef Steve Jalbert and Chef Karim Harba were the perfect fit to lead Chef’s Table XII’s kitchen.
With an extended history of working with famed award-winning Chef Takashi Yagihashi at restaurants like the Ritz Carlton in Dearborn, Chef Steve brings a distinctive quality to his culinary creations. Some might recall that Chef Takashi was the chef at Tribute when it opened in 1996. In 2012, he also won Iron Chef America and appeared on Top Chef Masters.
“This place has a very special place in my heart,” Chef Steve says. “I can remember some really great times at this location.”
Having worked for many top-notch restaurants in hotels coast to coast, Chef Steve has acquired a vast working knowledge of the business of running a restaurant as well as the art of fine dining.
Chef Karim Harba brings his international experience to the Chef’s Table XII menu. With a history of five years in culinary school in Syria, as well as 15 years of experience working in Dubai, Qatar, Germany and as chef for the Asian Games in 2006, Chef Karim has a well-rounded passport as well as a well-rounded palette developed during his years of experience in VIP menus and fine dining.
Chef’s Table XII is in the process of plans to open for lunch in the future.
If you’re familiar with this location from its great history, you have all the incentive you need to come back and enjoy Chef’s Table XII.
If you have never crossed the threshold here, come to experience the energy and the rich artistry of this restaurant, then come back for the food. NS
Chef’s Table XII
31425 W. 12 Mile Road,