Jonathan LeBlanc has been in love with food his entire life. Although he’s lived all over the United States, Louisiana “Cajun Country” has always been his home. This is where his love of food began. He trained professionally at the Art Institute of Houston culinary program, and later oversaw the school’s acclaimed restaurant. His background includes the French Restaurant, L’Auberge in Dayton, Ohio and a 350-seat fine dining steakhouse in Cypress, Texas. After years in exclusive hunting clubs and fishing resorts in the wilds of Utah and Alaska, Jonathan studied the art of sushi and Japanese-American cuisine. Next, he joined The Tasting Room at Uptown Park, Texas’ largest wine bar and café as executive chef. Jonathan always held a special place in his heart for the mountains and returned to Utah in 2014. Salt Lake City has quickly embraced his unique talent of using local ingredients and his ability to create award-winning dishes blending his diverse culinary background.
Keith Foust oversees the dining rooms at Stanza Italian Bistro & Wine Bar, working with the service staff ensuring a well-orchestrated, stellar dining experience. With over 20 years of experience in fine dining and hospitality he has worked with the teams at Gastronomy, Inc. and Spencer’s Steakhouse before joining the LaSalle and Trio Groups. An amateur musician, he plays trumpet and tuba and dabbles in piano. He enjoys time in the outdoors with his wife and “spirited” girls.
Amber Billingsly, renown pastry chef and reigning gelato queen of Salt Lake, joined the LaSalle Group in late 2017, serving as pastry chef for Current Fish & Oyster and Stanza Italian Bistro & Wine Bar.She offers clean, simple flavors, without any complicated plating gymnastics. “Everything comes down to flavor and texture for me,” she adds. “I like the unexpected flavors just for the pleasure it brings, not for the sake of being different or unexpected. I just love making people happy with my creations.”
Amber is widely lauded in the Salt Lake Valley for her ethereal desserts and downright heavenly gelatos. She’s been widely recognized and celebrated within the community. She earned the coveted “Best Pastry Chef” award from Salt Lake magazine for 2012 and 2013 and was honored with Slow Food Utah’s Snail Award while at Vinto. She was recently recognized by the Utah Restaurant Association with the “Heart of the Industry” award. Food charities and addressing hunger are very close to Amber’s heart. She participates whenever she is able in Slow Food Utah’s Feast of Five Senses, Taste of the Wasatch and EatDrinkSLC.
Paul Cafaro rounds out a stellar kitchen crew at Stanza. With deep roots in New Orleans from Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse to Muriel’s Jackson Square, he fine tunes each plate before it reaches the dining room, ensuring each bite is delicious and mouthwatering. He cooked in Florida kitchens of Catches Waterfront Grille, Panera and Johnny Carino’s Italian, honing his culinary skills. A graduate of the University of Tampa with studies in English and writing, he takes his passion direct to plate.
Private Dining Coordinator
Kayla LeBLanc brings a wealth of knowledge to the table for Stanza as the private dining coordinator. With her wide range of experience in the culinary arts, event planning, and customer service, she has a keen eye for foolproof planning of events, from intimate dinners to large galas, always exceeding guest expectations.
Kayla knows each event is extremely important and treats them with the attention to detail they deserve, ensuring every party is executed to perfection. She anticipates guest needs, fine-tuning every event, keeping everything running smoothly, within budget, and on schedule.
Kayla started out as a barista, where her love for coffee introduced her to restaurant management. She also managed a small Italian restaurant and operated a bistro and catering service in the Utah State Courts building. Most recently she served as an assistant pastry chef working with Amber Billingsley and Chef Jonathan LeBlanc in the kitchens of Stanza. After she and her husband welcomed their son, Jean‐George, to their family of all boys, she rejoined the staff in January of 2020 as the new private dining coordinator. Kayla enjoys spending time with her family, baking, and writing.
Michael’s love of people shines through in all he does. He’s a seasoned manager with profound expertise in creating stellar customer experiences through training, teamwork and his sharp attention to detail. He’s well versed in what makes a celebration, banquet or business meal really rise above expectations.
From his first job in a pizza parlor to working with world-class restaurateurs at the Kimpton Group’s Bambara, he’s been in love with the food and beverage industry forever and continually hones his craft through research and practice. He loves learning all about new preparation techniques, new wineries and distilleries and shares his knowledge and love of all things culinary with his staff through regular training.
His favorite dish on the menu is the duck breast with grilled corn and ricotta ravioli, and linguine all’aragosta e gamberetti.