This Saturday will mark the final day for Charles d'Ablaing's role as the high-profile executive chef at the Webster House, the renovated 19th-century schoolhouse that philanthropist Shirley Bush Helzberg transformed into a stylish upscale retail and dining emporium. Next Friday, d'Ablaing begins a new job: as executive chef for the stylish upscale Raphael Hotel on the Country Club Plaza.
Fat City's Jonathan Bender profiled d'Ablaing in three interviews posted earlier this month, and the 35-year-old chef didn't give a hint that he was looking to move on. But d'Ablaing confirmed today that he starts at the boutique hotel on March 25.
"I've been at the Webster House for five years and I feel I've made the most of the experience," d'Ablaing says. "I love the place, but I'm ready for a new challenge."
Charles d'Ablaing is not a stranger to hotel kitchens. He worked at Kansas City's Hotel Phillips for several years and, after that, a hotel property in Milwaukee. He says his hours won't be terribly different working at the Raphael, one of the smallest hotels in Kansas City -- one of the reasons for its popularity. But the 126-room venue has one big advantage over the Webster House: no banquet rooms. Since the building was originally constructed as an apartment hotel in the 1920s, it has no ballroom or expansive banquet rooms. (The hotel's restaurant was originally a beauty parlor.)
Unlike the Webster House, d'Ablaing won't need to plan menus for weddings or large private functions: "That, in itself, will be a huge relief," he says.
"A new challenge," d'Ablaing says, "will be creating new room-service menus."
d'Ablaing hopes to have the new menus for the Chaz on the Plaza restaurant completed by May. He says his predecessor at the hotel, young chef Jason Wiggins, has moved to Florida.
"By leaving Webster House, it creates a wonderful opportunity for a new chef to come in and make a name for himself or herself," d'Ablaing says. "It really gave me a great opportunity to grow and prosper."
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