Appointed Executive Chef
At Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago - IL, USA
Radisson Blu has recently appointed Leonard Ventura as Executive Chef of the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, an award-winning, modern hotel in downtown Chicago.
As executive chef of the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Leonard Ventura brings with him more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality and restaurant industry. Ventura oversees all of the hotel's culinary operations, including menu development, special events and culinary staff. Ventura recently worked as executive chef at the Chicago Wyndham Grand Riverfront hotel, and before that as the executive chef at the Dolce Hotel and Conference Center in Dallas, Texas for 10 years.
From a young age, Ventura has had a strong interest in food. His rich history of family cooking, discovery of fresh ingredients and desire to try new dishes fueled his drive to incorporate his cooking passion into a culinary career.
He attended Dumas Pere L'Ecole de la Cuisine in Chicago, where he learned classic French cooking technique that became the foundation of his culinary skills. Over the years, Ventura completed stages at restaurants specializing in Italian, Spanish and Japanese cuisines. He furthered his education at the Culinary Institute of America's Napa campus. Obtaining an Intermediate Sommelier Certificate was a highlight of Ventura's career and opened many opportunities for beverage pairings events, boutique winery travels and tastings.
Ventura started his professional culinary career at the Ritz Carlton Hotel Chicago in 1986. He worked under one of Chicago's most influential chefs, Fernand Gutierrez, and his mentor Pascal Vignon. His successful tenure at the Ritz led him to hold a variety of positions there, including as executive chef of the property's Carlton Club.
While with the Dolce Hotels, Ventura worked from the East to the West coasts at hotel properties managing a variety of culinary operations. In addition, he was a strategic member of the task team that implemented Dolce standards in new and existing hotel properties. Ventura developed new menus that became the standard for food presentations, and refined menu composition and production companywide.
Ventura has cooked for celebrities and created custom menus for exclusive private events and special functions, creating experiences that complement their luxurious setting. His broad skillset and experiences has allowed him to successfully teach, train and collaborate with various kitchen team members. Cooking is a form of art for Ventura that he loves to share with others.