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The American's former executive chef talks love for KC, Supper Club plans

Leslie Collins
Kansas City Business Journal
 
A native of Walla Walla, Wash., Michael Corvino now considers Kansas City home. It's the "kind of place you want to stick around," he said. It has the Midwestern hospitality and a supportive community, and the Crossroads Arts District offers the ideal creative and artistic vibe for his restaurant, Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room.
The restaurant, slated to open in mid-March inside Corrigan Station at 1830 Walnut St., will feature a 35-foot-long bar and a small stage for live music on a regular basis. The atmosphere will be modern, sleek and inviting, he said. It's a restaurant where patrons don't have to dress to the nines; they can come as they are.
"I've been doing fine dining throughout my career, but it doesn't support the type of business I wanted to open. I wanted to open a business that touched and fed a lot of people," he said.
Corvino and his wife, Christina, are trying to create a restaurant where they and their friends would want to hang out regularly.
In addition to the main dining area, the restaurant features a reservation-only private tasting room that seats up to 18 and offers a prime view of the bustling kitchen. The tasting menu will be tailored to each party, taking into consideration dietary restrictions and food preferences. It's an avenue for offering a fine dining concept that's sustainable, he said. In the back of the restaurant is a private dining room that seats up to 50 and will be used for overflow when it's not booked for events.
The Corvino Supper Club's menu is modern American and features shareable plates, such as fried chicken with kochujang cream, lettuces and white kimchi; barbecue duck with "forbidden rice," parsnip and black truffle; dry-aged rib-eye; and fried rice with lobster, pear and XO sauce. The tasting menu will feature items including fish dishes such as madai with lettuce root, lime and bronze fennel; white sturgeon caviar with peas and black olives; and chawanmushi, foie gras, salted cod and buckwheat.
"It's very much pulling ingredients, flavors and techniques from all over the world, which to me is very American," he said. "America is the melting pot of food and culture and cuisine."
Early beginnings
Corvino got his start cooking pizzas in high school and really honed his culinary skills while working as a sous chef at the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla. He treated it like an apprenticeship and learned how to butcher meat, filet salmon, make fresh pasta and create stocks. It ignited his passion for cooking, and he hasn't looked back.
Corvino joined The American Restaurant in Kansas City in 2013 as executive chef and later added general manager to his title. He left The American in August to pursue opening his first restaurant.
"The American was just a fantastic opportunity," he said. "It's been a springboard for many chefs. I was looking for a chef job at a restaurant where I could really focus on food, and it was a great environment for that."
The American put Kansas City on the map for fine dining, he said, and it always maintained a laser focus on the guests and great food.
"It was a special place. I felt like it was the Halls' gift to Kansas City," he said.
RELATED: Past chefs share ingredient that makes The American special
Corvino hopes The American's latest iteration as a pop-up event space will keep a piece of what made it so special. But that may be difficult. For Corvino, The American is much more than vaulted white oak ceilings and stunning views of downtown Kansas City. It was the people that made it special. He rattled off several names, including the bartender who opened with The American and then stayed 40 years, and the server who became the "most well-known server" in Kansas City over the past 20 years.
"People make a restaurant," he said.
That concept will stay top of mind as he builds out Corvino Supper Club, he said.
Construction is still underway at the restaurant, and Corvino's itching to get back in the kitchen.
"I've been planning this for so long, I'm ready to get in the kitchen and start cooking."
 
This article originally appeared in KC Business Journal. 

 

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