- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 4, 2006

Studying cuisine in France, researching wineries in Napa Valley and sailing the Caribbean might sound like a vacation to some.

For Daniel Kenney, it was job training.

Mr. Kenney’s adventures helped prepare him for his new job as executive chef at the Willard InterContinental Hotel.

Mr. Kenney is known for his fusion of traditional French cuisine with the health-oriented modern cuisine. He said he looks forward to integrating Washington tastes into his extensive repertoire at the landmark hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Northwest.

“I have people coming in from all parts of the United States and different parts of the world,” Mr. Kenney said. “Being a hotel chef means being very flexible. My cuisine has to be flexible due to our guests’ wants and needs.”

Mr. Kenney won a gold medal at the Atlanta Culinary Competitions while attending the Johnson and Wales University campus in Providence, R.I., where he graduated with honors with an associate’s degree in culinary arts in 1990. From there, he acquired broad knowledge of his trade as chef tournant at the Boston Harbor Hotel’s Rowes Wharf Restaurant from 1991 to 1996.

He enlivened his work experience by studying Provencal cuisine in Nice, France, and spending a year as a top chef on a Carnival cruise ship before returning to his New England roots. He filled many roles at a variety of Boston-area restaurants before arriving at the Willard last month.

“It’s a great new beginning for the Willard,” said Greg Van Riet, the hotel’s director of food and beverage, adding that Mr. Kenney has introduced a phrase that the hotel staff is using: “Yes is the answer, what is the question?”

Mr. Kenney brings his European training as well as New England resourcefulness to the job. He works with local farmers and fishermen to find the best produce and the freshest fish.

“I want to give them the best products to start with,” Mr. Kenney said of his staff.

“He has only been here a month, but he has already made a big impact with his intensity to achieve the best possible culinary effect,” said Barbara Bahny, a hotel publicist.

Part of Mr. Kenney’s job at the Willard will be to develop a new French bistro, set to open later this year. He will oversee development of the restaurant, designing a theme, creating menus and hiring staff.

“We have a very demanding clientele. They want to be thrilled; they want to be excited,” Ms. Bahny said. “He takes it and he goes all the way with his food creations.”

Mr. Kenney, 35, lives in Arlington.

Marie Tyler

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