The Capital Hotel has named James Beard Award-winning Chef Joël Antunes as its new executive chef.

Antunes, presently working in London, will oversee the kitchen at Ashley’s in the Capital Hotel, as well as the Capital Bar and Grill, and the hotel’s private dining and catering offerings.

“His cooking, resume and awards make it abundantly clear that Joël Antunes is an exceptional chef, but he is much more than that,” said Warren Stephens, chairman, president and CEO of Stephens Inc. “He is a warm and outgoing individual who connects with people and who is genuinely excited to become a part of our community. This was what really set Joël apart in our eyes, and it is why we are very proud to be bringing him to Arkansas.”

Antunes has been serving as consulting chef at Kitchen Joël Antunes at the Embassy Mayfair in London.

Prior to his work at Embassy, 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, and was the executive chef at the Dining Room restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead in Atlanta.

Antunes won the James Beard Best Chef of the Southeast Award in 2005 for his work as executive chef of Joël Restaurant in Atlanta. Before winning in 2005, he was nominated for the prestigious award in 2003 and 2004.

“I have visited Little Rock several times over the past year, and I believe this is a very special and unique opportunity. I grew up in a small farming town in France, but I have spent several decades living in hectic, crowded urban environments. Therefore, I am extremely excited to be returning to the United States and to the South, in particular, where my wife and I feel very much at home,” said Antunes. “The team of professional culinarians  at Ashley’s are extraordinary, and I look forward to the inspiration I will doubtlessly receive from them and from the wonderful selection of local, fresh ingredients that is available in Arkansas and throughout the region.”

Upon his arrival, Antunes will spend some time acquainting himself with the food service staff, current menus and operations and exploring state and local culinary traditions.

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Roby Brock
Roby Brock is the Editor-in-Chief and Host of Talk Business & Politics. He can be reached by e-mail at Roby@TalkBusiness.net. Follow him on Twitter: @RobyBrock.