Shepard Alum Takes Over as Chef at Haley.Henry and Nathálie Wine Bar

Peter McKenzie plans to get creative in the quirky hotspots' unique kitchens.

Haley.Henry Wine Bar

Chef Peter McKenzie will soon man the open kitchen at Haley.Henry Wine Bar. / Photo by Brian Samuels

Two of Boston’s hottest wine bars have a new chef. Peter McKenzie is taking the helm at both Haley.Henry and its newer sister, Nathálie Wine Bar, owner Haley Fortier announced. The opening chef of Shepard and an alum of Rialto, Ribelle, and other standout restaurants, McKenzie officially starts his new job on Monday, Dec. 17.

Most recently, McKenzie was chef at Strip-T’s, where he served the Watertown landmark’s final meals. “I’m excited for a new challenge,” he says today. “I’ve never managed two restaurants before.”

Another challenge McKenzie is looking forward to is working in the limited kitchen space afforded at both wine bars. Neither restaurant uses live-fire cooking, relying instead on induction tools behind the bar. “It’s going to force us to be more creative,” McKenzie says.

The chef is interested in preserving ingredients, and is inspired by the Haley.Henry menu staple, imported tinned fish, to experiment with his own preserved seafood. “Every inch of available space [in both restaurants’ kitchens] is going to be filled with projects,” he says.

Fortier, who operates both wine bars with managing partner Kristie Weiss, is “absolutely thrilled that Peter is joining the team and taking control of the kitchen,” she says. “His knowledge, creativity and passion are going to be shown through his food.”

The Downtown Crossing location, which is not only one of the ultimate bars in Boston but also one of our best restaurants, has built its vibe around cheese, charcuterie, conserva, and crudo, all of which McKenzie intends to offer. But he plans to delve beyond that foundation with “more esoteric seafood on the menu to complement and show contrast with European tinned fish,” he says.

Nathálie, which opened in July, “doesn’t really have a voice at the moment,” McKenzie says. “We’re going to dial that in. I’m thinking we’re going to lean more toward hyper-New England pinchos. Keep it in the style of Spanish-Mediterranean wine bar dining, but with a focus on New England ingredients.”

McKenzie, a D.C. native and a Somerville resident, is married to pastry chef Mareena McKenzie, and together they have two sons, ages 3 and almost 5. The parents have traded off childcare and full-time restaurant work since their first son was born. Since Strip-T’s shuttered, McKenzie has been on “daddy duty… picking mushrooms in the woods and things like that,” he says. Today is Mareena McKenzie’s final day with the team at Pammy’s before she takes over at home. It’s a win-win for both parents, Peter says.

“You provide a childhood that’s very much rooted with the family. How many kids get to spend six months at a time with their father? It was a very valuable time for me,” he says.

McKenzie begins at both Haley.Henry and Nathálie on Monday, Dec. 17, with plans to start rolling out new menu items in the coming weeks.

Haley.Henry Wine Bar, 45 Province St., Boston, 617-208-6000,

Nathálie Wine Bar, 186 Brookline Ave., Boston, 857-317-3884,

Chef Peter McKenzie, pictured with his family, is taking over at Haley.Henry and Nathalie wine bar

Chef Peter McKenzie, pictured with his family, is taking over at Haley.Henry and Nathalie wine bar. / Photo provided by Peter McKenzie

Kitchen shelves behind the bar at Nathálie Wine Bar in the Fenway

Like at sister spot Haley.Henry Wine Bar, provisions line the kitchen shelf behind the bar at Nathálie. / Photos by Toan Trinh