This weekend, sources inside the Capital Hotel told me that they have chosen a new executive chef. I have confirmed the name with management, but they’ve asked me to keep a lid on naming names while they do some final negotiations.
Honestly, after Chef Lee Richardson left the Capital post rather abruptly (link to Arkansas Times article) this June, it seemed the hotel was letting well enough alone. They already had an excellent staff in place, with Executive Sous Chef Jeffery Farrell and Sous Chef Jeffery Owen filling in just fine at both the restaurants and at public events. (Owen was the celebrity chef representing the Capital at the Share Our Strength soirée I helped with a few weeks back.)
But, a place with the clout of the Capital Hotel needs a big name, one with some history and clout, loads of culinary credentials and maybe even a touch of controversy. This guy — the one I’m not naming yet — has got all of it.
This non-announcement comes close on the heels of Capital Sous Chef Matt Bell’s news that he is leaving to take over the Oxford American’s new restaurant, South on Main. Arkansas Business reports the new space is scheduled to open in February. One is left wondering if he knew the coming changes and struck out while the time was right.
While it bristles the 20-year-old journalism major in me (note: that was a while ago) to hold off naming names, I understand. This is a pretty good catch, with a resume spanning from France to Bangkok and New York, as well as the South. We wouldn’t want to hack him off.
Not enough hints?
You’ll have to wait. Stay tuned.
(Feel free to post your best guesses below, in the comments. I’ll tell you who’s right when I get the official word.)