Yellowtail Sushi Restaurant & Bar in the Bellagio offers traditional and modern Japanese dishes in a stylized space overlooking the lake and fountains. Chef Akira Back showcases seasonal fish and ingredients in sushi, sashimi, tempura and hand rolls, as well as a multi-course omakase menu. Shared plates include toro sashimi with caviar and microgreens; and jidori chicken with sweet Japanese garlic, potato puree, baby root vegetables and teriyaki. Chef Back also creates a selection of globally inspired dishes such as Big Eye Tuna Pizza with shiso, a mint-like herb popular in Japan. The restaurant's décor features wood and stone materials, with a dramatic wall-mounted installation at the entrance, made with bronze metal scales that resemble the dorsal side of the eponymous fish. An 18-seat bar with illuminated rice paper and photos of Japanese flowers displays bottles of sake from the hand-selected collection. Yellowtail Sushi Restaurant & Bar, Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas.
Following his success with BLT Burger in New York, chef Laurent Tourondel is bringing this casual dining concept to The Mirage. Set to open in spring 2008, the restaurant will feature a neutral color palette accented with red brick, golden upholstery and plenty of wood. Table tops will be lacquered with large table numbers while the bar will have overhead flat-screen televisions for watching sporting events. BLT Burger’s menu will offer American and Japanese Kobe, lamb and Ahi tuna burgers complemented by sides like onion rings and waffle-cut, sweet potato or chili cheese French fries. An array of milkshakes in classic and spiked varieties will be available along with a selection of ice cream floats, nostalgic glass-bottled sodas, and cocktails. BLT Burger, The Mirage, 3400 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas.
Wolfgang Puck will be opening CUT, a Las Vegas outpost of his Beverly Hills steakhouse, in late January. The restaurant will be located in The Palazzo, the 50-floor tower under construction next to The Venetian. The menu will offer a contemporary twist on the classic steakhouse, featuring cuts of meat like USDA Prime Nebraska corn-fed, 35-day dry-aged steaks and Japanese Wagyu beef. Guests also will enjoy an array of entrees such as Kobe beef short ribs, lobster & crab “Louis” cocktail with spicy tomato-horseradish and roasted wild French turbot “French Riviera” style for two. Design firm Avery Brooks & Associates will craft the space, which will include large, bronzed glass doors, a basket woven felt wall, bronze mirrors, honed limestone and custom-walnut flooring. Adjacent to the restaurant’s main dining room will be an upscale bar and lounge serving custom cocktails and a smaller menu featuring CUT’s popular appetizers such as the mini Kobe beef sliders.
Koi Las Vegas will open its massive hand-carved Indonesian doors on Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino's “The Mezz” overlooking the casino floor. Successful with its Japanese-inspired cuisine, exotic and harmonious décor and celebrity scene from Los Angeles’ Restaurant Row to New York’s Bryant Park, the Los Angeles-based Koi Group feels at home with its newest Koi’s Strip location. Flanked by massive copper temple bells, Koi’s grand entrance is beneath rugged beams topped with three playful gilded Buddhas hand-crafted in Thailand. Throughout the dining room, gold pebble-like wallpaper-clad walls and black ceilings are covered in unique metallic interlocking netting, creating an alluring visual effect. In the center of the main dining room, plush circular banquettes are cut out of a massive piece of functional sculpture. On each dark-stained wooden table throughout the dining areas, candles glow from within large crystalline blocks of Moroccan selenite, creating Koi's signature seductive mood. The 100-seat lounge is furnished with gold leather banquettes arranged in a circular pattern around mirror-topped oval tables. A series of 21 double-stacked columns of spinning hand-carved “prayer wheels”–Tibetan-inspired decorations designed to enhance well being–sit in a window along one side of the lounge, while plush velvet curtains grace an interior wall. Separating the lounge and the restaurant is a spectacular elliptical bar set in light-toned “Java sticks” (narrow tiles of Indonesian onyx and marble). The sleek sushi bar in rich walnut inlaid with elegant onyx stone seats nearly 20; the wall behind the skilled sushi chefs, with vintage-style mirrors, reflects a Mondrian painting while creating a shadow box effect with shelves of varying depths. With a panoramic floor-to-ceiling window, the Fountain Room offers one of the best views of the Strip, including the Bellagio’s fountain show across the street. Koi’s menu, inspired by authentic Japanese dishes, is enhanced by liberal California accents and occasional influences from Asia and around the globe. Presided over by head sushi chef Toshiaki Horiai, the sushi chefs are prepared to create sushi, sashimi and rolls from exotic ingredients flown in from cold waters around the world. Yellowtail, snow crab, octopus, toro, sweet shrimp, salmon roe and uni will be served at the sushi bar and at the tables. Among executive chef Erich Owen’s signature dishes are miso-bronzed black cod with seasonal vegetables ($27), grilled skirt steak with crispy red onions and sesame sauce ($27), Kobe beef filet mignon toban-yaki ($48) and soft shell crab with spicy cream and ponzu sauce ($14). Koi’s wine director Will Dunbar has gathered a wide choice of premium cold sakés and will introduce guests to their varying styles. The global wine list features a wide selection of first-rate Champagnes and other white wines to complement the cuisine, along with other varietals from around the world. Koi will be open for dinner Sunday-Thursday from 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m., Friday-Saturday from 5:30 p.m.-midnight. Reservations are recommended. Koi, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, 3667 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV 89109, 702-454-4555.
Scheduled to open December 20, Palazzo carries on The Venetian’s tradition of featuring award-winning celebrity chefs’ fine-dining emporiums among its 14 restaurants. In addition to Wolfgang Puck’s CUT are Charlie Trotter's of Chicago fame; Emeril Lagasse’s Table Ten scheduled to open in January 2008; a second Las Vegas restaurant, an Italian steakhouse, from chef Mario Batali and his partner/ winemaker Joseph Bastianich renowned for their award-winning New York City-based Italian restaurant B&B Ristorante replicated in the The Venetian; a replica of The Venetian’s Canyon Ranch Café with a new name and dinner service; and Woo by the Woo family. Revered in Las Vegas for her Mayflower Cuisinier, chef-restaurateur Ming See Woo expects to debut her Woo on January 17, 2008. Located in the Shoppes at Palazzo, it will be next to Table Ten and above Mario Batali's steakhouse. Her son Peter is Woo's executive chef, having perfected his craft for six years as executive chef at Nobu Las Vegas in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Daughter Theresa Woo retains her title as manager; son Tony Woo, along with Jason Duran, are assistant managers. The Venetian‘s third tower, the $1.6 billion 50-story Palazzo, on the southeast corner of The Strip and Sands Avenue where the demolished Tam O'Shanter Motel was located, has a 60-foot glass-domed entry lobby with a two-story fountain, 3,025 suites, a casino with 1,900 slot machines and 80 table games, meeting rooms next to the Sands Convention Center, a shopping mall, underground parking and a 1,500-seat theater which will house “The Jersey Boys.” Palazzo is part of the largest hotel complex in the world with over 7,000 hotel rooms.
The Light Group’s Diablo’s Cantina, which opened on September 15 in the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino is the company’s third restaurant venture, following its successful Fix and STACK. Serving “cross-the-border” Mexican, Southwest and American cuisine in a lively, fiesta-like atmosphere, Diablo’s Cantina’s menu items feature south-of-the-border favorites such as Diablo’s skirt steak nachos and spiced grilled shrimp quesadilla, plus a unique spin on some traditional American classics including Diablo Death Wings–spicy chicken wings with a smoked jalapeño blue cheese sauce, and a 15-ounce burger. In addition, Diablo’s offers an array of salads and appetizers, taco and burrito combinations and sandwich and meat platters. Diablo’s Cantina, Monte Carlo Resort & Casino, 3770 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, 702-730-7777.
Located across Paradise Road from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, San-Toki Korean BBQ & Shabu Bar, the newest concept from Tiger Restaurant Group, opened its doors on September 1, offering a taste of the Orient where diners can grill specially marinated meats, fresh vegetables and a variety of noodles, stews and rice at their table on built-in barbecues. Those who choose to sit at the Shabu bar can cook assortments of meat, seafood and vegetables in individual hot pots. Shabu Shabu originated in Japan and was named after the ‘swishing’ noise made by stirring the meat through the broth. Tiger Restaurant Group owners Brian and Emily Kim created the San-Toki menu to utilize ingredients that cater to health-conscience consumers. Menu items include Kobe beef, garlic shrimp, spicy pork, marinated chicken, fried and steamed dumplings, and braised galbi stew. Featuring dark wood floors, tables with shoji screens against the bright red walls, the restaurant displays authentic colorful Korean kites suspended from metal poles and artwork that reflects Korea’s history. A private VIP room offers full-service Korean barbecue, karaoke and flat LCD televisions. The restaurant and its spacious bar and lounge feature Soju, a Korean version of vodka served “straight up” or with fresh fruit purées. Open from 5 p.m.-4 a.m. daily, San-Toki’s happy hours are midnight to 4 a.m. Sunday-Thursday, with all drinks and select appetizers 20 percent off. Tiger Restaurant Group was formed in 2005 to develop, operate and introduce Asian-themed foods to the mainstream market. Based in Las Vegas, it owns and operates Kaizen Fusion Roll & Sushi next to San-Toki, plus two other locations around the valley; Red Mango, Las Vegas; and the soon-to-be-opened Tiger Grill. San-Toki Korean BBQ & Shabu Bar, 4480 Paradise Rd. (Harmon Ave.), 702-732-TOKI (8654).
Redefining the traditional steak house paradigm with its seductively clubby, contemporary atmosphere that appeals to both genders, Strip House has opened at Planet Hollywood on the Strip. The saucy image of sultry silks, rich leathers, rosy lighting and siren red walls adorned with rare photos of vintage burlesque stars from the original 1900s Studio Manasse collection is a throwback to the golden age of cinema and cabaret in 1920s Vienna. This seductive scarlet design, which plays double-entendre inherent with the name, was created by architectural visionary David Rockwell whose projects range from New York's swank and sexy W Hotels to the whimsical FAO Schwarz Toy Emporium and numerous Broadway musical stage sets. Strip House, was created by renowned restaurateurs Peter, Penny and Mathew Glazier (The Glazier Group, whose other properties include the Monkey Bar, Michael Jordan’s The Steak House NYC, Bridgewater’s and Twenty-Four Fifth). Strip House’s menu is equally inventive and contemporary, where prime cuts of beef are charred in chef John Schenk's kitchen, designed to suit both steak lovers and adventurous diners. Signature steak dishes include the double-cut strip steak, veal T-bone and filet mignon. Chef Schenk offers distinctive side dishes combining traditional cuisine with innovative interpretations of basic comfort foods such as truffled cream spinach and goose fat potatoes. For a decadent dessert, the Strip House is known for its 24-layer chocolate cake. Executive chef Schenk brings a wealth of knowledge and culinary expertise to the restaurant, having served as executive chef at Monkey Bar; sous chef under Alfred Portale at Gotham Bar and Grill; executive chef at West Broadway; and chef/owner of Clementine in Greenwich Village. Strip House has locations in New York City; Livingston, New Jersey at the Westminster Hotel; Houston; Palm Beach Gardens and the El Conquistador in Puerto Rico. Strip House, Planet Hollywood, 3667 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (Harmon Ave.), Las Vegas, 702-785-5555.
Charlie Palmer, the renowned restaurateur behind Aureole in the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino and Charlie Palmer Steak at the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, is now expanding to Reno. At the end of August, he will open Charlie Palmer Steak and Fin Fish, both at Grand Sierra Resort and Casino. Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, 2500 E. Second St., Reno, 800-501-2651, www.grandsierraresort.com.
R.U.B. BBQ is set to spice up Las Vegas early this fall with its first location outside of New York City. The 9,000-square-foot location at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino will feature championship level barbecue created by Paul Kirk, aka The Kansas City Baron of Barbecue and The Ambassador of Barbecue. The menu will satisfy any level of a barbecue connoisseur’s taste buds, with standard dishes such as St. Louis-style barbecued ribs, barbecued sausage and pastrami prepared the old-fashioned way—slow-cooked over wood in pits for 14 hours. Specialty menu items include burnt ends, smoked twice until crispy and lightly sauced; Szechwan smoked duck; and a Taste of the Baron—beef, pork, ham, pastrami, turkey, chicken, sausage and a quarter rack of ribs. All selections will be prepared fresh daily so once they’re gone, they’re gone. On the second level of the Masquerade Village inside the Rio, R.U.B. BBQ will serve lunch and dinner daily and will feature live bands on the weekends, from a variety of musical genres. Chef Walter “Skip” Steele will be the resident “pitmaster” at the Las Vegas location, where chef Kirk frequently visits. Steele comes from St. Louis where he co-owned the popular Super Smokers BBQ restaurant chain. He has spent years perfecting his craft and has scores of accolades to show for it, including numerous awards from the Illinois State Championship and the Award of Excellence from the National Barbecue Association. For more than 10 years, he has also competed and placed in the famous Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Contest . Designed by Nevada-based Cypress Architecture and Design, the 230-seat restaurant, with its 30-seat bar area, will be a modern take on the industrial loft look, allowing guests to enjoy their barbecue favorites, as well as some mouth-watering R.U.B. originals. Wall accents of deep, fiery reds will contrast with the weathered metals and will be set near aged brick and warm rustic wood floors and ceiling beams. Combined, these elements will create a sophisticated, yet relaxed environment to experience a taste of Americana. Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, 3700 W. Flamingo Rd. (Valley View Blvd.), Las Vegas, 702-252-7777.
Stripburger, the newest restaurant from Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE), which also owns and operates Mon Ami Gabi, Café Ba Ba Reeba!, Eiffel Tower restaurant and Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab in Las Vegas, has opened on the Strip. We all remember that hamburger joint we grew up with–the juiciest burgers, addicting fries, tasty shakes and friendly staff. Flash forward to today and imagine that same burger joint with a modern look and feel, the first totally open-air restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip. On the ground level of the Fashion Show mall next to Café Ba Ba Reeba! and across from Wynn Las Vegas, it is open for lunch, dinner and late-night dining Monday-Thursday from 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m., Friday-Sunday until 2 a.m. Monday-Friday Happy Hours are 4 p.m.- 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.-closing. Designed in the round, Stripburger’s décor is reminiscent of old Las Vegas with its bright colors and neon lights. The new eatery features a 20-seat bar with four large plasma screens, high-top tables seating 60, an extended open-air patio seating 120 and a state-of-the-art sound system with music ranging from the 70’s through today. The affordable (nothing over $10) menu offers classic and imaginative burgers made with 100 percent All Natural Beef ground fresh daily and never frozen; fresh-cut fries made with premium Idaho potatoes that are hand-cut daily and crispy onion strings made from sweet onions, both specially seasoned, and pickle fries made from scratch daily with Kosher dill pickles, are all fried in trans fat-free oil. Also on the menu is an array of free-range boneless and skinless chicken breast sandwiches and specialty sandwiches–all natural wagyu beef hot dog; hangover sandwich of farm-fresh eggs, grilled tomato and pepper jack cheese; a vegetarian sandwich; and a fresh ahi tuna sandwich with soy-ginger marinade, lettuce, tomato and avocado. Freshly made milkshakes, an extensive selection of beers (draft, bottles and six-packs), wines (by the glass, pitcher and bottle) and specialty jumbo cocktails complement the fare. Weekends highlight local DJs spinning tunes from the patio’s entertainment booth. Heaters, mister systems and fans keep guests comfortable throughout the year. Group parties are welcome. Stripburger, Fashion Show mall, 3200 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, 702-737-8747.
It’s fitting that Strip House, a steak house chain with locations in New York City and Houston, is expanding its empire to the Las Vegas Strip. Opening in August at the Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino, a Sheraton Hotel, the restaurant’s décor will feature rich leathers and silks, rosy lighting and red walls adorned with rare photos of vintage burlesque stars from the original 1900s Studio Manasse collection. Executive chef John Schenk (formerly of Monkey Bar and West Broadway) will run the kitchen, which will serve up signature steak dishes, such as the Double Cut Strip Steak, Veal T-Bone and Filet Mignon as well as sides like truffled cream spinach, goose fat potatoes and the Strip House 24-Layer Chocolate Cake. Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino, a Sheraton Hotel, 3667 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, 702-785-5555.
Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant on Paradise Road in Las Vegas’ southeast sector has been so successful for over ten years that a second one, located in Summerlin’s Boca Park on Rampart Blvd. at Charleston Blvd. in the northwest part of town, opened on February 10. The legendary fresh beers, garlic fries and hearty menu are served for lunch and dinner in the new 8,600-sq.-ft. restaurant‘s 400-seat dining room, outdoor patio and spacious bar. Hours are Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-midnight, Fri.-Sat. open until 1 a.m. Reservations and private parties are accepted and encouraged. Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, Boca Park, 750 S. Rampart Blvd., Las Vegas, 702-419-4711.
Chef and chocolatier François Payard will open Payard Patisserie at Caesars Palace in the summer of 2007. The space will feature a specialty goods station with freshly prepared chocolates, candies, pastries and breads; a counter service coffee/liquor and panini bar that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and a dining room centered by an open-air kitchen offering traditional table service. Vibrant colors, hand-crafted woodwork, blown glass and an oversize crystal chandelier will decorate the space. Payard Patisserie, Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas.
Chef Mario Batali and his partner/winemaker Joe Bastianich have replicated their award-winning New York City-based B&B Ristorante in The Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip. Open from 5 p.m.-11 p.m. nightly, the restaurant features the duo’s acclaimed blend of exquisite Italian food and casual elegance that “captures the soul of an Italian grandmother dancing the tango with pop rock hipsters.” Mario’s signature dishes appeal to all tastes, from the classic to the adventurous. Among specialties is whole grilled branzino with fennel, gaeta olives and lemon oregano jam. Bastianich's signature wine list features selections from every region in Italy, many of them available by the "quartino" to promote both serious wine geek flights and casual tastings for the novice. Featuring Italian marble, dark maple wood and lush leather banquets, B&B Ristorante’s luxurious setting, surrounded by music imported from Mario’s personal music collection creates the ideal blend of Italian culture and celebration for which Las Vegas is known. B&B Ristorante, The Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, 702-266-9977.
Michael Mina (Michael Mina Bellagio, Michael Mina in San Francisco) launched his first steakhouse concept at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in October. StripSteak features two twelve-foot wood-burning grills with four chambers apiece and six low-temperature circulating ovens, which allow Mina and his staff to cook over a variety of temperatures and wooded flavors. Specialties include rib-eye carpaccio with heirloom tomatoes and pesto noodles; foie gras sliders with caramelized onion jus; as well as duck fat fries and truffle mac 'n' cheese.
The legendary Rao's, a turn-of-the-century ten-table East Harlem Italian restaurant, has debuted in the space that was Caesars Palace’s stunning Terrazza. Designer EDG’s mandate was to transport the intimacy and home-style family ambience of the former speakeasy into a 200-seat fine-dining room, which overlooks the resort’s Garden of the Gods Italian marble pool. www.raos.com.
An, a daughter of Crustacean founder/executive chef Helene
An, opened Hannah's in August in the location that was the Sirio Maccioni family's
Tré. The redecorated restaurant, in Summerlin's thriving
Boca Park on Rampart
Bites & Bubbles at Caesars
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a Seafood Martini
Top Meal from a "Top Chef"
Opening Specials at Charleston Festival
Hot Specials at Hooters
New Head Honcho
Platinum Power Lunch & Spa
Get Rollin’ at Roy’s
for Goodness' Sake
Luck of the Drink
Summer Vacation for Andre's
Beard Nominations Recognize Local Talent
The Tilted Kilt at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino has closed. Tilted Kilt, Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, 3700 W. Flamingo Rd., Las Vegas.
Restaurant entrepreneur/consultant Elizabeth Blau and chef Kerry Simon have closed their acclaimed Simon in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and will open its new version, Simon at Palms Place, adjacent to Palms Casino Resort. Designed by David Rockwell, the restaurant is scheduled to open in April. Palms Place is George Maloof’s under-construction luxury condo hotel, expected to open in mid-February. Palms Casino Resort, 4321 W. Flamingo Rd., Las Vegas, 702-942-7777, 1-866-942-7777.
Paparazzi Grille has closed. The hotel
in which it was ensconced, Hôtel
San Rémo, is undergoing a makeover that will
transform it into Hooters Hotel Casino, with a number of
restaurant changes. In the meantime, Paparazzi Grille’s
menu is served in the hotel’s coffee shop. Hôtel
San Rémo, 115 E. Tropicana Ave. (Duke Ellington Way),
Las Vegas, 702-739-9000, 800-522-7366.
Mandalay Bay’s elegant 65-seat 3950 has closed to make way for an expansion that will house the 250-seat Strip Steak, the brainchild of Michael Mina. Scheduled to open in October, this is the talented entrepreneur’s first steakhouse and his fourth Las Vegas restaurant. Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, 702-632-7777.
Roy’s sales and marketing manager Cristina Baumann recently earned a level 1 sommelier certification from the Court of Masters Sommeliers, an accomplishment that affirms her expertise in providing guests assistance with wine selection and pairings. She successfully completed a rigorous course and exam in production methods of wines and spirits, wine service, wine tasting skills and wine pairing techniques. The certification illustrates her talent and skill in working on the special event and wine tasting menus on which chef-partner Percy Oani and Baumann collaborate, as well as her individual wine recommendations. “Roy’s exciting and innovative cuisine can be enhanced when paired with fine wine,” said Baumann. “My passion for wine and new sommelier certification allow me to meet my customers’ needs by more effectively maximizing the bold flavors of his cuisine.” Roy’s, 620 E. Flamingo Rd., Las Vegas, 702-691-2053.
Nanci Pietras has joined Strip House as sommelier. Bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the steakhouse, she has worked directly with top educators, industry leaders, premier restaurateurs, wine merchants, wineries and writers to perfect her craft. In addition to her knowledge and passion for wine, her plethora of skills includes sales, planning special events and wine marketing. Pietras gained her understanding and appreciation of wine at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), where she became Level I and Level II certified in Wine Fundamentals. A member of the International Sommelier Guild, she also served as a sales and wine consultant for 55 Degrees Wine + Design in Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, table hostess for the Light Group and marketing and special events specialist for Spectrum Marketing. Strip House, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, 3667 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, 702-737-5200.
Alsace, France native executive chef Eric Klein has come full circle, rejoining Wolfgang Puck as executive chef of Spago, replicating the sophisticated and daily changing fare in the Puck tradition and creating innovative tastes using all-natural, fresh and organic ingredients. Klein honed his skills in Europe before moving in 1996 to the United States, where he joined the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, working for seven years in Puck’s Chinois on Main and Obachine restaurants in Los Angeles and Spago Beverly Hills. He continued to perfect his craft as executive chef at Beverly Hills’ Maple Drive, Wynn Las Vegas’ SW Steakhouse and Fix in Bellagio.
Now at the helm of Wolfgang Puck’s Trattoria del Lupo in Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, executive chef Eduardo Perez offers guests new tastes of authentic Italy. A 21-year veteran of the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group and former chef de cuisine of Spago in Las Vegas, he embarked on a tour of Italy exploring different regions, cuisine and ingredients to prepare for his new role. He then worked alongside Puck, managing partner/corporate executive chef Lee Hefter and managing partner/corporate executive chef-Las Vegas David Robins to craft the new Lupo menu. Perez replaces executive chef Mark Ferguson, who opened Lupo with Puck, and, again with Puck, is now about to open Spago at The Ritz-Carleton in Bachelor’s Gulch, Colorado near Vail.
Honing his skills as executive chef at Pink Taco in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Noé Alcalá is now the executive chef for The Light Group’s Diablo’s Cantina, opening on September 15 in the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino. Growing up in Tepatitlán, Mexico, 30 minutes outside of Guadalajara, he began cooking at age 12, helping his mother with her at-home catering business after school. Eager to expand his talent for home-style Mexican cuisine, he began taking culinary classes in Guadalajara, eventually moving to Southern California in the early '90s to pursue his career. Alcalá took a job at a steakhouse franchise and, like most aspiring chefs, began working as a dishwasher.
With chef’s Noe’s departure, Willy Rodriguez was promoted to Pink Taco head chef. “The only difference from before,” he says, “is that I come in at 5 a.m. to make the salsas, instead of doing them the night before.”
Chef de cuisine Mark Purdy has replaced Jacques Van Staden at André Rochat’s Alizé at the Top of the Palms, having perfected his skills in André’s late-great Mistral. From Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County, he developed a love of cooking assisting his mother, and a passion for the area’s fresh produce and products. Acquiring a taste for the sea and its offerings during family summers in Nantucket, Mass., he landed his first job there as a dishwasher at the age of 13. Graduating to cooking in Washington, D.C., eateries, followed by Charlie Palmer’s Aureole in New York City and Aureole in Las Vegas as sous chef for three years, he helped open Palmer‘s Dry Creek Kitchen in Sonoma. Purdy’s unique style of creating dishes complements André‘s exquisite cuisine. Alizé at the Top of the Palms, 4321 W. Flamingo Rd., Las Vegas, 702-951-7000.
Jacques Van Staden, also known as "The Gambler" in culinary circles, has joined Elizabeth Blau and Associates restaurant consulting firm, as a culinary expert and consulting chef. The South African native is traveling with Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines to gather new recipes, ingredients and techniques.
Gifted chef Carlos Guia, who came to Las Vegas from New Orleans’ Commander’s Palace in 2000 to preside over the kitchen of Commander’s Palace in Las Vegas from its inception to its closing last January, has been named executive chef for acclaimed southern chef Louis Osteen’s under-construction Louis’ Las Vegas and Louis’ Fish Camp in Town Square a few blocks south of Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on the Strip. Osteen’s two restaurants will feature Southern cooking which will include the introduction of “low-country” cuisine to the Las Vegas Valley. A Venezuelan native nominated for a James Beard Award in 2006, Guia is a Southern-style-cuisine expert.
The Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group continues to live up to its high-class reputation by naming Kenny Magana director of pastry for its five Las Vegas restaurants—Chinois, Postrio, Spago, Trattoria del Lupo and Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill. Replacing Puck’s gifted longtime corporate pastry chef Christophe Ithurritze, who now runs a large food and beverage corporation in Illinois, Magana is known for producing innovative signature dishes. Committed to using only the highest quality ingredients, he upholds Puck’s philosophy of using all-natural and organic products to sustain the quality of life, not just enhance it. Magana studied mathematics and chemistry before completing the culinary arts program at Joilet Junior College in Illinois in 1995, immediately joining the Wolfgang Puck family to open Spago, Chicago, where he gained valuable hands-on kitchen experience and learned the basics of pastry arts. He moved to Las Vegas in 1998 to work with prominent chefs such as Alex Stratta at The Mirage. Two years later, he returned to the Puck group as pastry chef for Postrio, where he earned multiple recognitions and awards including “Best of Show—Patisserie” in the 2002 Showpiece Competition at the International Hotel & Restaurant Show. In 2005, he accepted the challenge of creating a pastry program as executive pastry chef for the new Sensi at Bellagio, also organizing on-site and off-site events. While there, he fulfilled a dream of competing in the National Pastry Championship in 2005 in Phoenix. In 2006, he joined the team that opened Puck’s first restaurant on the east coast—Wolfgang Puck American Grille in Atlantic City‘s Borgata, before returning to Las Vegas for his new position.
Greg Engelhardt has been named chef de cuisine at the legendary downtown eatery, Andre’s French Restaurant. He perfected his craft as executive chef Stephen Kalt’s sous chef at Wynn Las Vegas’ Corsa Cucina. Engelhardt replaces Eric Patterson who moved back to Northern Michigan after 15 years with André Rochat.
Masa Ishizawa has succeeded his mentor, former executive chef Takashi Yagihashi, as executive chef of Wynn Las Vegas’ esteemed Okada. Honing his skills at Hotel Nikko, Masa’s Restaurant and Brasserie Tomo in San Francisco, then as The Riviera Country Club & Tennis Club’s executive sous chef in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and as chef-owner of Chika, a Japanese restaurant and sushi bar, Ishizawa moved to Las Vegas and Okada as Yagihashias’ executive sous chef. Yagihashias has returned to the Midwest to open his contemporary Restaurant Takashi in Chicago.
Vienna, Austria, native Rene Lenger, whose father was a professor at the revered Culinary Institute of Vienna, is the new executive chef of Wynn Las Vegas’ The Country Club: A New American Steakhouse, replacing David Walzog, now executive chef of Wynn’s SW steakhouse. After graduating at the top of his class from the Culinary Institute of Vienna, Lenger apprenticed with a three-toque chef until moving to New York, where he became the Rhiga Royal Hotel’s assistant pastry chef. Moving back to Vienna a few years later, he worked again with a three-toque chef, before returning to New York. Prior to joining Wynn, Walzog and Lenger spent seven years working together at Strip House, Michael Jordan’s and the Monkey Bar, as key members of the Glazier Group, a prominent New York-based restaurant company.
Harrah’s is reinventing its restaurant scene. Asia restaurant has become Ming’s Table. Café Andreotti is now Penazzi, presided over by Gabriele Penazzi, who was Andreotti’s general manager. Also a chef and sommelier, he has introduced Penazzi family recipes combined with the cuisine of different regions of Italy.
Light Group corporate chef Brian Massie, who honed his skills with the N9NE Restaurant Group and the Aureole Restaurant Group, has presided over the kitchens of Light’s Fix and STACK since their inception. His menus are designed to offer the best in classic American fare. Executive chef Eric Klein, who perfected his craft at Beverly Hills’ Maple Drive and Wynn Las Vegas’ SW, now replicates Fix’s cuisine, as well as offering his own specials, while Massie concentrates on Stack.
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