Cody Storts Discusses Hopscotch Departure, Walkout of His Culinary Militia

Categories: Food Politics

Nieuport17v2.jpg
Nieuport 17 FB
Short rib stroganoff at Nieuport 17. Doesn't suck.

Rumors. Really awesome rumors have been circulating as of late regarding a group known as the Culinary Militia and one chef associated with Hopscotch in Fullerton. Like a game of Telephone, the facts have been stretched enough to where I asked the one person who could set the record straight. Was there a falling out? Stealing? Blackmail? Walkout? Cody Storts and I met over fish tacos to discuss what was going on.

Cody trusted me enough to want to share what's been happening for the last month or so. And that's what this is about. If you'd like to know how Tustin's Nieuport 17 factors into all of this, keep going. Otherwise, there's always my chef interview.


Rumor #1: Cody is no longer associated with Hopscotch.

This is a fact. However, this was mutually agreed upon. The direction management was going no longer matched the long-term vision that Cody had. There would be an agreed upon transition, where Cody would (and did) assist in finding a replacement in the kitchen. Assisting with menu development at some of the owner's other properties already took him away from Hopscotch's kitchen most nights already. The team would leave recipes for the menu, plus the tools to request specific items as needed. Most of the kitchen was moving on at some point, but the plan was accelerated due to the next rumor.

Rumor #2: There was an exchange between kitchen staff and an owner, resulting in them being let go. Plus, the staff stole equipment belonging to Hopscotch.
Yes and no. While Cody does confirm a "gnarly" incident, the Culinary Militia chose to walk out. Chef's explicit orders were to only take what belonged to them: knife sets, scales, tasting spoons, items they purchased personally, etc. Removal of anything that wasn't theirs was unacceptable. "If you take anything out of this building that isn't yours, I will prosecute you," was what was uttered that night. "Take what's yours; leave everything else." The crew packed up their items and left.

Rumor #3: Management of Nieuport 17 plans to shut down the place and remodel, cleaning house in both the literal and employment sense. Storts and the Culinary Militia would take over duties.
Some misinformation. While remodeling is on the agenda, Nieuport 17 will conduct it in phases to keep the kitchen running. The team has been in the kitchen for the last week, working with current chef Greg Moro on tweaking the existing menu in the best possible way. They've been going "back to basics", cracking open Julia Child cookbooks to perfect classic French sauces--a change from their stay at Hopscotch. The revised menu launches this week, and will likely undergo updates (escargot!) as Greg, Cody and the Militia get more comfortable.

Renovations for Nieuport's kitchen and dining areas begin next month and are expected to wrap up in early winter, introducing an upscale, castle-like theme for the iconic structure. The Barnstormer Bar? Retooled into an additional concept (like how Five Crowns converted their bar into SideDoor). In the meantime, I'm reminded that this change is a work in progress. Regulars will still see familiar faces in the dining room, yet will notice the most change on their plates.

That's the story Cody is sticking to. Anyone want to add to this? Throw it in the comments.


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Location Info

Nieuport 17

13051 Newport Ave., Tustin, CA

Category: Restaurant

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29 comments
SophieH.
SophieH.

Regardless of what may or may not have happened, referring to one party in the midst of a dispute as "the one person who could set the record straight" is naive at best.

Lamina01
Lamina01

   Let's revisit this and set some facts straight. Cody was already phased out and working on side projects, this is a fact. His side projects were not successful and the plug was pulled on his involvement in them which is what fueled his ultimate decision to leave. His ego was hurt.

     His so called "Culinary Militia" had declared mutiny in the Kitchen and were pretty much already emotionally checked out. Most of their shifts were spent grabbing each others balls, horsing around, and sneaking off premises to sneak shots at neighboring bars. There was a catalyst..Yes and it involved a copious amount of alcohol. Instead of leaving Hopscotch as promised, one at a time, the CM decided they were going to leave as a whole hoping to disrupt the business and teach the venue a lesson.

     Come Sunday morning there was no Kitchen staff, and no food service. In all my years in this industry I have never witnessed something so childish and unprofessional. What a joke this militia is. It is one thing to give your notice and leave in the timely fashion but to band together like that over something as trivial as a drunken argument blows my mind. What happened was definitely not an executive decision it was personal. If the CM genuinely cared about Hopscotch, as stated, something like that would have never happened.

     There was a general recipe book in the venue, but the recipes for many items were not left behind. Also the replacement staff was not hand picked by Cody, period. No one at Hopscotch wanted Cody to be involved in the hiring process because he was not trustworthy.

     And in true Cody form, a couple days after his walk out he interviews with OC Weekly just proving again to us that he is the attention seeking fame obsessed person we know him to be. All FOH and BOH found this article to be incredibly amusing and we would like to thank the editor for publishing this piece.  We wish the CM best of luck in their new venture and we would like to warn Nieuport 17 to sleep with both eyes open when dealing with these individuals. They are unpredictable and not loyal. 

     And as for the future of Hopscotch, he did tell the truth. The exodus of him and all his cronies have opened the door for a new era of food and talent to come. And let me tell you..It doesn't suck.

anonserver
anonserver

Cool story cody but lets talk about the Sunday after that night. That was the real 'walk out'. A few cooks simply didn't show up for thier shift and the rest were given an "opportunity" to follow Cody to "the new spot" and were told that they would all be employed the next day. There was no brunch or dinner service that day. Hopscotch lost an entire day of business. Servers were called off and thus robbed of their money and wages for that day. There has yet to be any retribution paid to the innocent front of house employees. Replacements for the kitchen staff were not there the next day, lunch was run by one valiant cook who was uninformed of the entire situation. Instead of apologies to those who were left high and dry, he runs to the media in attempt to save his own name and promote a new restaurant. Those who were actually there know how shady he and his team are. I just hope Nieuport 17's management knows that they're doing business with a group of imposters.

codystorts
codystorts

So... this piece was to stop rumors, not make new ones. Please let me enlighten some of the comments below. 


Please remember this was not a one night tragedy that ended in epic fail. All main players on the kitchen staff had letters of resignation into hopscotch. We were doing our best to help with not only a smooth transition but interviewing and setting up interviews for possible chefs to blow it out of the water. We all thank and love that spot very much for what it is and will be. Unfortunately it became unavoidable to end negatively which forced all parties to face their internal issue and each and everyone come to a positive resolve and move on. All at this time is going smooth and is more fitting to all parties.


There was not a "walk out" during a service that evening at all. The incident happened long after the entire dinner staff had cleaned and set for sunday brunch and were off the clock. Second of all this was each and every kitchens members decision to choose to end there stay at hopscotch. They all have been a part of unresolved issues for a long time and made their own choice to depart. I asked several times, on behalf of the other owners and staff, if the cooks would continue to help with the hopscotch transition... nothing adjusted or changed with the militia staff.


The staff that did stay is looking to do some great things and the word on the street is they have attained some great players in the chef game....


Cody

ProfSmith
ProfSmith

One of the advantages of being married and having little kids is that I have never even heard of - much less patronized - this restaurant even though I have worked in Fullerton for over a decade.  Who cares about the egos of some "chef" and his "culinary militia."  Give me a burger, fries and a Coke from a server who is not covered in tattoos.

cindydimmitt
cindydimmitt

I have always been very impressed with Chef Cody and his professionalism. His food is worth every penny. I'm sure he participated in a walk out as a last resort to a continuing problem. We have been regulars since Hopscotch opened and we watched Cody come in and design a menu suitable for people who want a dining experience and not a Fullerton rave. For those of us that dine out frequently, the prices for the quality of food at Hopscotch is totally appropriate. I am sad to see him go. I loved watching him chit chat on the patio and get excited about how people responded to his recipes. We will follow him to his next adventure!

suzannegriego
suzannegriego

If Cody Storts isn't an alcoholic, I'm not sure what is..... 

So drunk, I Heard he didn't even know where he lived that evening... 

I'm not sure his account of that evening is very accurate. Period


and furthermore is Cody Storts admitting that him and his "Culinary Militia" walked off the job in the middle of dinner....? I don't care what words were exchanged, that isn't very professional.  There are other ways to deal with disagreements. Leaving patrons and other employees hanging is a selfish move & messing with peoples livelihood. Sounds like someones ego got hurt. 


Hopscotch is one of my favorite places to hang out & have drinks, food, and listen to music at. My friends work there and I gotta stick by the people who work hard and aren't quiters. Seemed pretty busy last weekend when I was there.... 




Bill Hanley
Bill Hanley

The only good thing about this dive is the name. if I'm ever misfortunate enough to be stranded in douchebag land a_k_a downtown fullerton I hopscotch right past this dump.

Matt Niebuhr
Matt Niebuhr

That place needs to be named 'Bad Experience' because it was awful right from the start

Shawn Thackrah
Shawn Thackrah

i been to this spot about 20 times for craft beer and not once did i order anything every daily special sucked ass and the whole menu was a joke overpriced bbq not to mention its cooked in an oven thats not bbq u fools

mhip
mhip

I had heard from someone in the know, quite awhile back, that they were on the verge of "cash only" with most of their vendors.


Quick take on Side Door. Was excited to check it out. Lackadaisical service, bartender did nothing but complain out loud to herself about how unhappy she was with her shift, and how busy it was.

I won't be going back.

Steven Cornejo
Steven Cornejo

Kathya Does this mean no more $15 plates of crackers and tuna?! Haha

Michelle Pereda
Michelle Pereda

This makes me sad, as the fine cooking had made HopScotch my favorite place in OC. Though, I'm eager to taste what the new team will have in store.

Lisa Bannister
Lisa Bannister

You mean a restaurant owned by an alcoholic and his hipster friends isnt running properly ? Wow, what a surprise. #fuckhopscotch

blueosmium
blueosmium

I'm still not sure what the "Culinary Militia" is after reading this. It sounds like the kitchen staff acting as a group of sorts, but that isn't clear. Is that the team referred to in rumor #1? If so, who were they leaving recipes for? The owner, Cody, someone else?


I also don't understand the relevance of the interview you linked to. I'm not making the connection to Justin Lopez at the Stonefire Grill. 

cindydimmitt
cindydimmitt

I suggest you brush up on your cheese varietals. They were not serving cheddar with Starfish tuna. The cheese they serve is costly because is top notch. If you want cheese wiz, go next door to the slide bar.

mhip
mhip

Morning Wood

Lamina01
Lamina01

I look at your photo and your opinion immediately doesn't count. Maybe if you put some clothing on and your obnoxious implants were in our face we could take you seriously.

brekkiefan
brekkiefan

@blueosmium The Culinary Militia is how the team that Cody works with in the kitchen refers to themselves. Before ending employment at Hopscotch, they agreed to document how to create the dishes on the menu for future kitchen staff.


The chef interview is what I write up on a regular basis. If reading up on Hopscotch/Nieuport 17 did not interest you, I gave an alternative.


http://blogs.ocweekly.com/stickaforkinit/on_the_line/

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