Dining

What Makes Chef Michael Corvino the All-American Guy?

The new head chef at Kansas City’s The American Restaurant brings a new era of innovation

Since joining The American in mid-July as its new executive chef, Michael Corvino has had big shoes to fill in the sense that’s he’s following in the highly regarded footsteps of Debbie Gold. Known as one of the best restaurants in town, The American was a big step up from his last position as executive sous chef to Bruno Davaillon at The Mansion in Dallas.

Corvino started his culinary career in his hometown of Walla Walla, Wash. A solid line cook at that point, he got a job at the newly renovated Marcus Whitman Hotel and met his first mentor, Bear Ullman. Ullman did a classical apprenticeship at a five-diamond resort in Maui, and Corvino’s first few years with him were very much as an apprentice.

Chef Michael Corvino at his new home, The American Restaurant, at Kansas City’s Crown Center. Photo by Landon Vonderschmidt.

Convinced by Ullman to take a more hands-on approach rather than spend his money on formal culinary training, Corvino moved several times around the country to hone his talents. Stints in Chicago, Naples, Portland and Dallas gave him a taste for working with many different chefs and food genres.

Corvino’s style is focused on quality ingredients. He strives for refined flavor and presentation via clean and light food. He’s always creating unique flavor combinations by blending exotic and luxury ingredients from around the world with the best of what’s available locally.

Proudly displayed on The American’s menu is Corvino’s new dish, Porcini Lyonnaise, with celeriac mousseline, slow poached egg, crispy pig ear and smoked vinaigrette. The porcini mushrooms are having an excellent year, and he hopes to serve this dish throughout November as long as availability holds out. The dish, he adds, is a nod to Bruno Davaillon in Dallas.

So far, Corvino really seems to enjoy Kansas City and its tight knit chef community. He isn’t surprised by it, but says he’s grateful to be a part of it. In fact, he discovered late at night after work a few weeks ago that Ryan Brazeal, head chef of the new and exciting Novel Restaurant, lives a few units down the hall from him. With similar takes on food, not to mention a common upbringing (both share a variety of tattoos and a former skate/punk culture as teenagers), Corvino and Brazeal quickly became friends. When Corvino isn’t working at The American, he spends late nights talking shop and food with Brazeal and other new friends.

Story by Lisa Chism