If you’ve ever experienced the highly choreographed, highly personalized service at Minibar, it’s at least partially thanks to Jhonatan Cano working his magic behind the scenes. Cano not only oversaw operations of José Andrés’s avant-garde tasting counter as general manager; he is also known in culinary circles for his frequent travels to the world’s best restaurants. Nearly every weekend, Cano is on a plane to Lima or Copenhagen or Singapore to seek out the highest levels of fine-dining, all of which he documents on his Instagram account, @memoriesofagourmand.
Cano is the second big departure from Minibar in the past few weeks. Chef Jorge Hernández left at the start of the year to be the culinary director of a restaurant group in his hometown of San Antonio. Under their leadership, Minibar reached the No. 1 spot on Washingtonian‘s 100 Very Best Restaurant List in 2019.
Cano, though, says the timing is coincidental. After eight years with ThinkFoodGroup and five at Minibar, he was keen to help shape a brand-new restaurant with ideas and service details gleaned from his travels. Jônt is certainly one of the most ambitious restaurants slated to open in DC this year. The 18-seat tasting counter will highlight dry-aged meats and various ferments (like housemade miso or spruce-tip vinegar) in an 8-to-11 course menu. An accompanying 35-seat lounge will offer à la carte “guilty pleasures,” including affordable caviar service.
Even before he was offered the job, Cano says Bresca was a restaurant he regularly recommended to friends and family visiting DC. Now in his new role, he hopes to raise the profile of Bresca and Jônt to a global scale. “The ambitions upstairs [at Jônt] and the way it’s being curated, it is definitely something worth a special visit,” Cano says, echoing the language Michelin uses to define its top dining destinations.
Cano is so serious about his new job that he’s moved across the street. He previously lived three blocks from Minibar. “For me, it was too far away,” he says. “It literally takes me ten seconds to commute now. I know the first few years, I’m going to be living in the restaurant and then I’m going to visit my house sometimes.”
Once he settles in, Cano plans to continue his culinary adventures around the globe and add to the more than 200 Michelin-starred restaurants he’s already visited. He recently returned from an R&D expedition to some of the top fine-dining tables in New York. Now, though, Ratino is tagging along too.