Siena Tuscan Steakhouse loses chef

UPDATED — Another person in what’s been a string of Ambassador Hotel employees coming and going – from the general manager on down – is gone.

This time, it’s executive chef Marshall Roth, who moved to Wichita to open the downtown hotel’s Siena Tuscan Steakhouse.

“We kind of just parted ways,” Roth says. “I need to do what’s right for myself, and they need to do what’s right for the hotel.”

Hotel owner Paul Coury says he’s a huge Roth fan.

“He’s a great guy,” Coury says.

Roth says he came to Wichita to be his mother’s caretaker. He says he recently was looking to hire more nurses for his mother. Now, he says, he won’t have to.

“I’m going to be taking care of my mom.”

Coury says Roth’s schedule of caring for his mother sometimes conflicted with his schedule at the restaurant.

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Ambassador Hotel may align with Autograph Collection by Marriott

WICHITA — Wichita’s Ambassador Hotel, which has struggled since opening in January, may become part of the growing Autograph Collection by Marriott.

“I’m looking into soft brands,” says Paul Coury, chairman of Tulsa-based Coury Group.

The soft brand trend allows boutique hotels to retain their independence but align themselves with the power of a large chain.

Coury won’t confirm if he’s working on a deal for the Ambassador to become part of the Autograph Collection.

He does say, though, “If we were to do anything, it’s a good fit for what we do.”

Coury says a soft brand would allow the Ambassador to keep its name and individual style “but still maintain certain standards.”

“We’re not where we originally hoped to be by now,” he says.

“I don’t think we did as good of a job as we needed to to get the major demand generators exposed to our product.”

He’s referring to groups and businesses that can commit to annual contracts with hotels, often at the start of each new year.

“We’re getting ready to burn through 2013 pretty quick,” Coury says. “Once January rolls around, based on the feedback we’ve been receiving … we’ll reach the original projections.”

There are several hurdles, he says.

“Sometimes things don’t go the way you project,” Coury says. “I made some mistakes. I misread the market on some things.”

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Partying like a rock star — in Wichita

Wally Reyes Jr., post workout at the Ambassador Hotel, partying with Anchor owner Schane Gross.

WICHITA — Percussionist Walfredo Reyes Jr., who is on tour with Chicago, had just finished a workout in the Ambassador Hotel’s gym Sunday night when he encountered Anchor owner Schane Gross in the elevator on his way back to his room on the 12th floor.

Before he knew it, he was partying with a bunch of chefs and food service vendors celebrating their first Funday in the Rock Star Suite.

Funday is a Kansas City tradition that Siena Tuscan Steakhouse chef Marshall Roth is now instituting at the Ambassador where chefs gather to cook and hang out together on Sundays. The first one included Wichita chefs and several from Kansas City.

Reyes, who goes by Wally, fit right in as he fielded questions about his time in Wichita on the band’s way to Salina’s Stiefel Theatre Monday.

So why wasn’t he or anyone else in the band already staying in the Rock Star Suite?

“Too many expenses,” he says.

The Cuba native is known around the world for his drumming and has toured with a number of acts, such as Santana and Steve Winwood.

“I travel all around the world like I’m hopping in a cab,” Reyes says.

Still, he was impressed with Wichita.

He stopped into A Legacy Antique Mall around the corner from the Ambassador.

“I transported myself to the ’60s,” he says of checking out records.

He also popped over to Mead’s Corner for a small latte with a double shot of espresso.

“And you know what?” Reyes says. “They know how to make it. Starbucks doesn’t.”

Reyes, who currently lives north of Los Angeles, particularly liked Old Town even though not much was open Sunday morning as he walked around.

“I have a fetish with brick or something,” he says. “It kind of … talks to you.”

He says that’s one reason he likes New Orleans so much, and now Old Town is on his list, too.

“I love the vibe.”

Reyes says he can imagine the area continuing to grow and prosper even more.

“In, like, two or three years, I’ll be back to rock and party.”

Funday replacing Sunday at Ambassador Hotel for gathering of executive chefs

WICHITA — A Kansas City tradition is coming to Wichita – literally.

Marshall Roth, executive chef at the Siena Tuscan Steakhouse at the Ambassador Hotel, used to work in Kansas City where Sunday occasionally was Funday when chefs from restaurants around the city would get together and cook for each other.

Roth says the rule was each chef had to bring something from his freezer and then “leave your ego at the door.”

After touring Creekstone Farms in Arkansas City, Roth says he wanted his chef friends from Kansas City to see it, too.

“Well, it kind of just blew up into this chef Funday again,” he says.

About a dozen chefs are meeting at the Ambassador Hotel in Kansas City on Sunday and taking “a booze cruise down to my property.”

There will be a reception in the rock star suite. Creekstone is donating some prime bone-in rib eyes that have been aged for 55 days.

“It’s, like, crazy,” Roth says.

The extensive menu also will include sea urchins that Seattle Fish is donating.

The chefs will tour Creekstone Monday and have lunch before heading home.

Roth is inviting some Wichita chefs as well and hopes Funday might become a tradition here.

“It’s going to be a blast,” he says. “Should be a good, fun, wild evening.”