Welcome to the Sonesta Chefs at Home series! We’ve all been spending more time at home these past few months, including our executive chefs, but that doesn’t mean the cooking, creating, and enjoyment of food has stopped! We’ve put our chefs to the test and have asked them to share what they are making at home.

Today we welcome Mark Kapolnek, Food & Beverage Director and Executive Chef at Royal Sonesta Chicago Riverfront, to share a few summery favorites. Read on to hear from Chef Mark and to learn about what his family will be eating this summer.

What I love best is these menu items all have three things in common – simplicity, seasonality and ingredient cross utilization.

table 2

This summer my family will be eating all of the fresh seasonal fruits and veggies that we can get. This makes for simple meals that are often vegetarian, like all these recipes I’m sharing. And as we try to economize our grocery trips due to the pandemic, we like to use a few staples in a variety of ways, like the basil, arugula, and lemon here.

Lots of grocery stores are selling prepared pizza dough which makes for easy flatbread grilling if you choose not to make dough from scratch.  You can also experiment with grilling fruit and serving it in a savory dish. I tossed these peaches with olive oil and salt and the grill brought out their flavor. I added some arugula and feta and a little olive oil for a summer salad.

I like to prepare veggies you’d normally cook, like corn and asparagus, and serve them raw. With some vinegar and salt they taste really fresh and you can toss it all together without turning on your stove. My daughter loves corn so I’m sure we’ll be eating it often this summer.

A strawberry and basil lemonade is great to have on hand for both my kids. I like to toss in a bit of gin in mine!

grill 2tomato mozzflatbread

Grilled Flatbread


  • 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Garden fresh tomato, 1 large, sliced
  • Pizza dough
  • 2 tbsp torn fresh basil leaves
  • 8 oz fresh Burrata
  • Grilled lemon and arugula to garnish
  • Salt to taste


  1. Preheat grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat (400-450°F/200-230°C).
  2. Prepare dough to recipe directions
  3. Grill, covered, 6-8 minutes or until bottom of crust is golden brown
  4. Flip crust over. Arrange Burrata and tomatoes over crust. Grill 4-6 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown.
  5. Top with remaining basil and arugula.  Drizzle olive oil, grilled lemon and season with salt.  Cut flatbread in half lengthwise and into fourths.

Dough Ingredients

  • 2-2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 packet instant yeast (2 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil + additional
  • 3/4 cup warm water


  1. Combine 1 cup of flour, instant yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add olive oil and warm water and use a wooden spoon to stir well very well.
  2. Add additional 1 cup of flour and any additional flour as needed stirring until the dough is forming into a cohesive, elastic ball and is beginning to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Drizzle a separate, large, clean bowl generously with olive oil and use a pastry brush to brush up the sides of the bowl.
  4. Form pizza dough into a ball and transfer to your olive oil-brushed bowl. Use your hands to roll the dough along the inside of the bowl until it is coated in olive oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place it in a warm place.
  5. Allow dough to rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size
  6. Once the dough has risen, use your hands to deflate it and transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead briefly until smooth (about 3-5 times).
  7. Use either your hands or a rolling pin to work the dough into oval shape.

peach . lemonade

Simple Fresh Grilled Peach Salad


  • 4 fresh peaches, quartered and grilled
  • Local honey, drizzle to taste
  • Basil Leaves, torn, 6 leaves
  • Lemon juice, 1/2 ea
  • Salt, to taste
  • Arugula, 1 cup
  • Feta Cheese, 1 cup
  • Champagne Vinegar, drizzle to taste
  • EVOO to taste


  1. Preheat grill to 400 degrees
  2. Place the peaches in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and toss well. Place on the grill and cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.
  3. Place the arugula on a large platter, drizzle with EVOO, vinegar, lemon juice and salt.  Add basil, feta and cooked peaches. Lightly drizzle top of salad with honey.
  4. And serve.


Raw Corn Summer Salad


  • 1 cup fresh asparagus, sliced thin
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ cup fresh corn kernels (from about 3 ears)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon chopped basil
  • ½ cup rice wine vinegar


  1. Combine all ingredients into bowl and serve!

Strawberry Basil Lemonade


  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed
  • 1 ea, sliced lemon
  • 6 cups ice


  1. Bring sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 3 cups of cold water, lemon juice, sliced lemons, sliced strawberries and basil.  Allow to sit refrigerated for minimum 2 hours for flavors to incorporate.

#Foodisart at Sonesta! Get more of our favorite recipes here. Subscribe to the blog, or watch this space for our weekly updates from around the country!

Enjoy this post? Check out all of the recipes in our Chefs at Home series!

Chef Robert Graham, Royal Sonesta Houston Galleria

Chef Kevin Baker, Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach

Chef Jason Routzahn, Royal Sonesta New Orleans

Chef Kevin Davis, Sonesta Gwinnett Place Atlanta

Chef Matt Porter, Sonesta Suites Scottsdale

Chef Brian Dandro, Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island/Royal Sonesta Boston

Chef Patrick Newman, Sonesta Bee Cave Austin

Chef Gunter Weber, The Chase Park Plaza Royal Sonesta St. Louis