Junior Borges has left his position as chef at Meridian, the restaurant built around him, featuring a menu of modern Brazilian food inspired by his heritage and culture. Borges was more than simply the head of that one restaurant, however — he oversaw all the restaurants at the Village, including Anise and La Mina, the latter of which recently flipped to become a nightclub. And he brought in Tony Ibarra, who was most recently put in charge of the kitchens at both of those restaurants.
Based on what Borges says, the decision to part ways was, for him, about “needing more.” Although many may not have realized it, he did not have an ownership stake in the restaurant built around his food. “It was a cool restaurant, but I feel that for me at this point, I’m at the time in my life when I need more. I need a partnership, some kind of opportunity to develop other concepts. I have so many ideas for other stuff. It is time now for the Village to be able to do what they want to do. I’m not sure what the direction of Meridian will be, it’s a little sad but at the same time it creates opportunities for other things to come. Maybe I’ll be able to do this kind of restaurant some place else, I hope, along with other things.”
Borges was a semifinalist this year in the outstanding chef category at the James Beard Awards, and Meridian was Eater Dallas’s Restaurant of the Year in 2021. In September, Meridian’s executive chef, Justin Mosley, also left Meridian. In an Instagram post, Borges noted that he and Mosley had worked together for over seven years. Speaking to Eater Dallas earlier this year, Borges explained why he promoted Mosley to executive chef, taking the title of chef for himself. “Here, and for me, it’s more about how I can promote growth, development, and opportunity for people to get ahead in their career,” Borges said.
“The Village is going through a new thing, relaunching La Mina and doing other projects,” Borges tells Eater Dallas. “It’s a new ship in there and when that happens, it evolves. I’m thankful for everything they did, what we created there, and I’m proud of the team who worked there.”
The Village provided this statement:
“Since opening Meridian in 2021 with chef Junior Borges as the executive chef, the restaurant has won several awards and accolades for its modern Brazilian cuisine. Chef Junior and team have fostered Meridian’s reputation in the Dallas market and made its mark on the culinary scene. After nearly three years at Meridian, Chef Junior Borges is no longer with the Village. We thank Junior for his contributions to Meridian and the Village and wish him well in his future endeavors...As the landscape of Dallas dining matures, we hope to evolve our restaurant to continue to delight and surprise our guests.”
The Village also shared a statement from Nick Walker, who has taken over Meridian and the position of culinary director. “It has been an honor to have had the opportunity to work alongside a talented chef like chef Borges. As I continue to take on the day-to-day operations of the culinary team at the Village, I am looking forward to further immersing myself in and supporting Meridian in an effort to continue our vision.”
For Borges, this parting of ways leaves him without a plan for his next move.
“I’m open for opportunities,” Borges says. “I think chefs who get to this point in my life, you feel like you need to operate the whole thing or focus on more of those strategic, larger goals where you get to be creative, develop, design, and use your expertise. But it depends — on what’s in front of you, what opportunities present themselves, and if the time is right. I’m open to different kinds of roles too.”