When Gavin Kaysen announced in March that he would leave his longtime position as Café Boulud's executive chef to open his own restaurant, plenty of people in the restaurant industry — and those who watch it — were surprised. As Daniel Boulud's right-hand man, Mr. Kaysen was a player in one of the most successful restaurant empires in New York.
But the bigger surprise was where Mr. Kaysen, 35, planned to open his restaurant, Merchant: not in Manhattan or Brooklyn but in Minneapolis, his hometown. A chef with no shortage of opportunities in New York had decided to leave.
"I had some people ask me candidly, 'Why? Why leave New York? Why move there?' " Mr. Kaysen said.