CHEF, THE RIEGER

HOWARD HANNA

Howard started working in restaurants while in high school in Manhattan, KS. Later he worked in some popular casual restaurants in Lawrence and Manhattan before helping to open Coco Bolos in 1998, first as sous chef then chef.

It was there that Howard really fell in love with food; he enjoyed the creative process of writing menus and generating daily specials and the fast pace of line cooking in a really busy restaurant, while learning about the importance of hospitality through working in an open kitchen and interacting with guests.

Realizing how much he had to learn, Howard moved to New York in 2001 to attend the Culinary Institute of America. He graduated first in his class in 2003 while gaining invaluable work experience first under the “Godfather of American regional cuisine” Larry Forgione, whose kitchen used an exciting array of sustainable local products then with Italian-born chef Giovanni Scappin who taught Howard a respect for simplicity and a love for pasta and risotto. Howard also worked as a student extern at Manhattan’s famed Union Square Café, where he deepened his understanding of hospitality under the country’s leading restaurateur, Danny Meyer.

After New York, Howard had the opportunity to travel through some of the world’s great wine regions in California, Italy and France where he toured vineyards, attended wine tastings, and ate like crazy. He enjoyed dining in some of the oldest and finest restaurants in the world, as well as taquerias, trattorias, bistros and brasseries far off the beaten path of most tourists. While in Europe, Howard worked as a stagier in the cellars of Louis Jadot, and at Michelin one star Hostellerie de Levernois in Burgundy and Michelin three star Le Jardin de Sens in Montpellier.

Howard arrived in Kansas City in the fall of 2003 and went to work as tournant at 40 Sardines for chefs Debbie Gold and Michael Smith, then helped to open Room 39 as sous chef, then chef de cuisine under Ted Habiger. In late 2007, Howard took the executive chef position at the River Club.

Howard’s travels have taken him around the US and to Canada, Mexico, Samoa, New Zealand, Italy and France, and through the kitchens of five James Beard Award winners, two Food and Wine Best New Chefs, and five Michelin starred restaurants.

Howard is a proud to call Kansas City home, and is thrilled to achieve his dream of opening his own restaurants, first the Rieger in the Crossroads in 2010, followed by Ça Va Champagne bar in Westport in 2014.