Aziza chef de cuisine and Chronicle Rising Star Chef (’09) Louis Maldonado will replace Rudy Mihal as Spoonbar’s new exec chef.

Rumors that an alum of the critically-acclaimed San Francisco restaurant might be headed north have been circulating for weeks, but the restaurant announced today that the h2hotel chef will start his Healdsburg tenure with the kick off of Pigs and Pinot, a popular weekend-long event featuring several gala dinners. He’ll co-chef the “Eat 100” Pigs and Pinot Dinner with Cocina Latina Chef Mateo Granados on March 23, 2012.

Following the event, he’ll start reworking the spoonbar menu, which has leaned toward Middle Eastern flavors since opening several years ago. Best guesses are he’ll stick in that general direction, though Inside Scoop SF said, “he won’t be bound by any geographic region, and he expects entrees to top out around $23 (or thereabouts).”

In related news, spoonbar’s hyper-talented mixologist, Scott Beattie is moving onto new projects, namely the forthcoming Goose and Gander in St. Helena.