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Kajdan to be top chef at Westin Jackson hotel

By JACK WEATHERLY

Matthew Kajdan will bring his culinary skills honed in top restaurants in the Jackson area and elsewhere to Estelle, the wine bar and bistro at the Westin hotel.

He has been executive chef for five years at the Parlor Market at 115 West Capitol in downtown, within blocks of the 203-guest-room hotel at 315 Tombigbee St., which is scheduled to open Aug. 3.

Kajdan said in an interview that Estelle would offer “contemporary American cuisine, with regional flair.”

“It definitely have a Southern flair, because that’s my style” and will take advantage of local food producers.

The Westin Jackson won’t be the first hotel for Kajdan.

Kajdan, 32, who began his professional career at Bravo! Italian Restaurant and with Nick Apostle and helped to establish the Mermaid Cafe at Lake Caroline, decided to stretch his legs and broaden his horizons by joining the Sagamore Hotel in upstate New York for a few years under noted chefs such as Frank Esposito, Ken Lingle and Bill Foltze.

He seemingly was to the “kitchen born,” as he grew up at the table of his grandmother, a native of Holland who practiced “classic French cooking,” and his mother, Kajdan said.

Not only will he be running Estelle, but he will be in charge of all food services at the hotel.

“The hotel business is a lot different than the restaurant business,” he said. “You have a lot more people to feed,” including in-room dining and banquets.

Kajdan will be among 130 to 140 to be hired for the hotel.

General Manager Mike Burton said, “We are so excited to have such a distinguished chef from the Jackson community join our team . . . . This restaurant will cater to the creative-minded individual and embrace Jackson’s Southern charm and local culture.

“We are confident that Chef Matthew will establish Estelle within the city’s thriving dining scene and offer a new foodie hotspot for guests to gather and unwind.”

General Manager Mike Burton said Tuesday that a recent job fair, which attracted about 300, led to job offers to about 40.

“It was a success,” Burton said. Another fair will be held on June 1, he said.

Kajdan will hire 10 to 15 people to work in the kitchen.

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