One On One: Michael Corvino

Michael Corvino, Executive Chef, The American Restaurant

Since arriving at The American Restaurant in July 2013, chef Michael Corvino has overhauled the menu format and cultivated renewed interest among Kansas City diners. He offers seven, 10 and 15-course tasting menus, plus à la carte selections for appetizers, cheese, entrées and dessert. Corvino honed his skills at luxury hotels for more than a decade as the former executive sous chef at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, Texas. Corvino’s refined techniques, smart use of ingredients and artistic plating bring a modern sensibility to The American’s dining and bar menus.

How have you adapted to Kansas City’s dining scene? I knew I couldn’t do one large menu format with a four-hour meal like The French Laundry; you don’t have enough people here for that niche. The American was ready for a change. My goal was to have four people sit and share dishes. Ninety percent of sales are seven to 10-course tastings. I’m surprised at how well it’s gone over. I’ve seen restaurants offer so many menu decisions that it is overwhelming. It’s fantastic to have diners put themselves in my hands.

How has the bar menu changed? You can only get so many people here for a four-hour meal. People want to spend money on better food; it’s one of the most enjoyable things you can do. So the bar menu plays off the main menu with à la carte options. It’s gastropub style, what you want to eat in a bar with beer. A huge focus of mine is to bring in great beer from all over but offer quality over quantity.

Have you put any service changes in place? My influence on the front of the house is more of a mindset. I’m not going to change specific steps in service. The mindset is to give people an enjoyable experience that’s not so formal. It’s more comfortable and casual but not dumbed down.

Where do you find inspiration for new dishes? I create a collaborative environment with my sous chef and pastry chef. This [past] summer, I [had] a seven-course tasting menu paired with Rieslings inspired by my travels in Napa and Seattle. I like to keep the menu fresh and have a completely different tasting menu every two to three weeks. I use ingredients at their height, available during small windows of time.

What trends have you seen developing in the industry? If I opened a restaurant here, it would be completely casual service with seafood and vegetable tastings to show people how amazing produce can be. Over the past couple of years, I’ve seen more collaboration dinners between chefs. It allows guests to experience another chef’s food. I want to invite more chefs to come here and cook.

The American Restaurant, 200 E. 25th St., Suite 400, Downtown, Kansas City, Missouri, 816.545.8001, theamericankc.com