William Carter, general manager, The Raphael, has named Sean Leventhal as executive chef for the hotel and its signature restaurant, Chaz on the Plaza. Chef Leventhal has worked in hotels and restaurants coast to coast and in Kansas City restaurants since 2002. He is best known for his work as executive chef at Café Verona in Independence. “We were fortunate to have found a chef in Kansas City with his culinary training and breadth of experience,” Carter says. “Chef Leventhal impressed us with his creative cooking skills. We value his talents as an educator, his engaging personality and unique point of view.”
Chef Leventhal began his culinary journey during prep boarding school summer breaks, working in restaurants in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where he rose from dishwasher to head sauté cook. After graduating from The Culinary Institute of America in New York, he began his professional career at L’Auberge, a fine-dining French restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland. Under the tutelage of Parisian chef George Chaubron, he explored the 3 a.m. fish markets and developed a lifelong relationship with fresh, from-the-source produce and ingredients. Additional stops on his odyssey include Pierpont, the restaurant of James Beard Award winner Nancy Longo, noted for her modern Chesapeake Eastern Shore cooking; Celilo Restaurant in the famed Governor Hotel in Portland, Oregon, and Andaluca in the historic Mayflower Hotel in Seattle, where he was chef de cuisine under another James Beard Award winner and Iron Chef contestant, Wayne Johnson; and Bluefin Grille in the Marriott Providence Downtown in Rhode Island.
Chef Leventhal describes cooking style as modern American, and paradoxically, “serendipitous.” He cooks what his fresh in the market and strikes his fancy, yet takes a precise, disciplined route to how food is prepared and presented. “I try to bring the science—the gastro techniques—and reverence for the animals and plants used in the dishes we serve,” says Leventhal. He emphasizes a harmony of color and art on the plate and of the flavors that are the centerpiece.
His vision for Chaz is that it become celebrated as a steak and seafood house that brings in world influences. “Maryland Eastern shore meets Pacific Rim with a stopover in Spain,” as he describes it. “The emphasis is on well-done, perfectly executed food.” His first menu, targeted to debut July 13, will be a collaborative effort with his culinary team and Chaz patrons. He hints that Chaz guests may anticipate signature specialties interpreted in new ways, such as coffee rubbed pork loin, black grouper, handmade pastas, Maryland Eastern Shore-style crab cakes and smoked meats. He plans to continually evolve and freshen menus. “I want to have a culinary conversation with our guests and explore the endless possibilities.” Chaz diners are invited to participate in the conversation by sampling menu specials nightly through June and providing feedback through an online survey. Participants receive a complimentary appetizer and are eligible for a prize drawing for an overnight stay.