Renowned Raleigh chef William D’Auvray tapped as executive chef for Giorgios Bakatsias’ East End Bistrot
Photos by Forrest Mason
William D’Auvray and Giorgios Bakatsias of Giorgios Hospitality & Lifestyle Group go way back. Which—combined with his industry chops—made D’Auvray an obvious choice for executive chef of Bakatsias’ East End Bistrot, opening early this year in East End Market.
Raleighites may know D’Auvray from his first Raleigh restaurant, Fins—which, after he opened in North Raleigh in 1997, catapulted him to star status as one of the big-name chefs in the City of Oaks (to boot, the restaurant earned both a four-star (out of four) and a five-star (out of five) review from the News & Observer’s now-retired longtime and highly revered restaurant critic Greg Cox).
But it was 1988 when the dynamic duo’s story began. D’Auvray was working at a wood-fired pizza oven concept in Greensboro that Bakatsias (who owned former Greensboro restaurants Nicholas and April) often frequented. “It was amazing, amazing food,” says Bakatsias. “I said if pizza could be this good, I wonder what else he can cook.”
And, so, when Bakatsias’ Durham restaurant Parizade opened in 1992, he tapped D’Auvray as the opening chef (the pair also opened Cafe Giorgios together pre-Fins). But when D’Auvray closed Fins after 13 years, he moved to Florida to spread his wings and consult at various restaurants—including one with Bakatsias.
Upon returning to the Triangle in 2016, the LA-bred chef consulted at Vidrio and Parizade; then opened now-shuttered Lula’s (an ode to his great grandmother’s Southern comfort cooking) and still-thriving LuLuBangBang, which specializes in Asian street food, with Chapel Hill Restaurant Group.
But, like two magnets, D’Auvray and Bakatsias found their way back to each other yet again. “It’s an inseparable romance!” jokes Bakatsias. … The pair met for coffee a few months ago, and D’Auvray fell in love with the East End Bistrot concept and space—naturally. “Our energies started humming like an engine again,” says D’Auvray. “He and I have done so much with each other, and we feed off of each other’s creativity. He’s just incredible—what he can do, what he’s done. … And I can fill in his blanks.”
The restaurant will no doubt be a legacy for both the chef and restaurateur: It’s the first big project in NC for D’Auvray since Fins, and it’ll be Bakatsias’ most elevated restaurant experience in Raleigh (meanwhile, Bakatsias’ smaller-scale restaurants Las Ramblas and Giorgio Pizza Bar are both opening in North Hills this month).
“This is more in my wheelhouse, more of what I want to be doing, more of what I did to make a name for myself,” says D’Auvray. And as contemporaries who, in a way, grew up at the same time in the industry, the partnership will allow the pair to both get back to their roots and work together in a fresh and unique way.
“The creative part of it, the creative energy, that’s what makes it fun,” adds D’Auvray. “The day-to-day grind of a restaurant is a constant—that’s always gonna happen. But then the creative part really, really made me excited to do this with him. Because I get to play. We get to play.”