The discerning citizens of Little Rock and beyond who have long made the Capital Hotel their go-to spot for fine dining are in for a treat of international proportions: Michelin-starred and James Beard-award-winning chef Joël Antunes has just arrived to take the helm of the Capital Hotel’s spectacular kitchen, which serves Ashley’s and the Capital Bar & Grill, as well as its private dining and catering services.
Having conquered a number of world capitals with his dazzling cuisine, the new Executive Chef, who grew up in a small farming town in France, is delighted to be ‘coming home’ to an environment with a small-town feeling, surrounded by the bounty of Arkansas agriculture to fuel his art. He hits the ground running, excited by the prospect of local ingredients and Southern culinary heritage influencing his classical cuisine – and vice versa.
Antunes arrives from London, where he has been consulting chef at Kitchen Joël Antunes at the Embassy Mayfair in London. Prior to that, he served as consulting chef at Brasserie Joël in the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in London and at the Oak Room at New York City’s Plaza Hotel. Under his leadership as executive chef at the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead in Atlanta, the restaurant became the city’s only AAA Five-Diamond, Mobil Five-Star establishment.
In 2005, at his eponymous Joël Restaurant in Atlanta, Antunes won the James Beard Best Chef of the Southeast Award, for which he had also been nominated in 2003 and 2004. Joël Restaurant was honored as one of the “Best New Restaurants in the United States” by Esquire magazine, and as one of “America’s Best Restaurants” by Gourmet magazine.
From his very first apprenticeship in a Michelin-starred restaurant, Antunes trained under the most accomplished chefs in his native France, including the two-star rated Ledoyen and Duquesnoy in Paris, and Hôtel Négresco in Nice; and with Paul Bocuse in Lyons and Troisgros in Roanne, both with three-stars. He also worked at Le Touquet in Le Tourquet’s Hôtel Picardy, another Michelin three-star restaurant; and first learned to infuse his classical French cuisine with local flavor at the Normandie Restaurant in the five-star Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. In 1991, Antunes opened his own restaurant, Saveur, in London, where his elegant cuisine was at the forefront of the capital’s culinary revolution. In 1994, Saveur won Decanter’s prestigious Restaurant of the Year Award, and Antunes received a Michelin star of his own.
Antunes confirms with each new dish his signature, bold, clean style and the classical training in which the awarded chef is grounded. It will be a marriage of minds and menu as Antunes’ innovation joins the highly supportive team of professional culinarians already steeped in the local culture of the Capital Hotel. Bienvenue à Arkansas, Chef!
Ashley’s at the Capital Hotel | 111 West Markham Street Little Rock, AR 72201 | 501.374.7474 | capitalhotel.com