Video: Capital Hotel's New Chef Joël Antunes Cooking for Growth

by Kate Knable  on Monday, Jan. 7, 2013 12:00 am  

Important were “His engaging personality, obviously his track record and ability to lead a culinary team. … The tasting was, of course, instrumental. There’s no question this gentleman can cook. His personality, his leadership style, his desire for our type of environment,” Chaffin said. “This is what he wanted for this stage in his life for him and his wife.”

In a December press release announcing Antunes’ hire, Stephens said Antunes was “an exceptional chef, but he is much more than that.

“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,” Stephens said.

Settling in Little Rock

Arkansas appealed to him, Antunes said, because Little Rock is smaller than Atlanta or London.

He plans to find a home, probably outside of the city limits, where he can enjoy his hobbies of bicycling and running. Among the job’s appealing features were a “small city, nice people, nice weather and I can [go] cycling,” he said.

He prefers the American South to, say, New York, where a brief stint as a consulting chef proved not to be a good fit for him.

There, among other negatives, The New York Times gave his food a bad review.

“In New York, I have one bad review. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s very funny because I think, in my life, I have 99 percent very good reviews and one bad one. And every time, people speak of the bad one,” he said.

“I try to learn. I try to be positive. And also, sometimes people don’t like the same food. …

“If someone comes to your restaurant and says, ‘I don’t like your food,’ I understand. If you say my food is disgusting, I don’t understand because, you know, I always use the best ingredients, and every dish that comes from my kitchen is always good.”



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