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Chef Cyrus Keefer takes over Alewife kitchen

Chef Cyrus Keefer is now the executive chef at Alewife.
Chef Cyrus Keefer is now the executive chef at Alewife.(Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

After a brief stint doing private consulting and catering work, Chef Cyrus Keefer has joined another Baltimore restaurant.

Keefer now heads the kitchen at Alewife, the west-side gastropub where Chad Wells served as executive chef for six years before leaving last week to become the corporate chef for Howard County's Victoria Restaurant Group.

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The switch comes several months after Keefer left traditional kitchens to launch his own restaurant consulting, catering and events business.

"The bottom line is it's exhausting," Keefer said. "I didn't have like a year to build a clientele for the other business."

He said he plans to continue consulting and hosting pop-up events, though he expects that business to slow down.

"Nothing stops for me," he said. "It's just something bigger came in to the picture and it's just going to allow me to do much more."

Keefer has hosted several "Defie Moi" pop-ups featuring French-Asian street food, and more are in the works. The next one is scheduled for July 21 at Ekiben in Fells Point, and he hopes to return to Union Craft Brewing, where Defie Moi popped up earlier this month.

The street food central to Defie Moi is similar to Keefer's new menu at Alewife, which now includes fewer entrees and more shared plates.

"If anything, it's like Defie Moi molded into Alewife," Keefer said. "I think street food's going to rock in there. It's that kind of place."

Alewife's revamped menu offers approachable street food with French, Italian and Asian flavors, including dishes like risotto croquetes with wild boar ragout, olives and salsa verde; pork belly meatballs with braised greens and red eye mayo; and chicken corn dumplings with ginger corn dashi, mushroom and Thai basil.

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"It's a melting pot of street food, and it's not to be intimidated by," he said.

Keefer is also considering the possibility of purchasing a food truck to make his street food more mobile.

During the last decade, Keefer has bounced around to restaurants including 13.5% Wine Bar, Banditos, Fork & Wrench and Birroteca, but he said he sees himself staying at Alewife for the long run.

"I know I've been a hopper, skipper and a jumper," he said, "but I really never had a cohesive working relationship with an owner that was really standing behind what I do."

Alewife is located at 21 N. Eutaw St.

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