Capital Hotel Names New Executive Chef

The Capital Hotel of Little Rock announced Wednesday that Joël Antunes is its new executive chef.

Antunes, a winner of the James Beard Award, will oversee the kitchen at Ashley's in the Capital Hotel, the Capital Bar and Grill, and the hotel's private dining and catering offerings. 

Antunes has been working in London and is scheduled to arrive in Little Rock this weekend. 

"His cooking, resume and awards make it abundantly clear that Joël Antunes is anexceptional chef, but he is much more than that," said Warren Stephens, the Little Rock financier who owns the hotel. "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 consulting chef at Kitchen Joël Antunes at the Embassy Mayfair in London. Before working at Embassy, he was 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.

"We are thrilled and fortunate to have a chef of Joël’s caliber coming in to lead our amazing culinary team," said Michael Chaffin, chief operating officer of the Capital Hotel. "Joël has served in some of the world’s best restaurants, from Paris to London and beyond, and he has developed a bold, clean style focused on local ingredients and influences. We know he will be very well received here in Little Rock and we look forward to introducing him to our community."

During Antunes' time at Joël Restaurant in Atlanta, the restaurant was honored as one of the "Best New Restaurants in the United States" by Esquire magazine, one of "America's Best Restaurants" by Gourmet magazine and earned the coveted Four Diamond rating from the AAA Guide from 2005 to 2008.

"I have visited Little Rock several times over the past year, and I believe this is a very special and unique opportunity," he said in a news release. "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."

Antunes replaces Lee Richardson, who in 2007 helped reopen the historic hotel. Richardson left in June