Hip chef cooks up great attitude
There’s a new face in the kitchen at Todd English P.U.B.—chef Jean Paul Labadie. He joined the gastropub in August and brings with him more than 20 years of experience. Labadie has also been a Vegas foodie fixture for more than 15 years with résumé highlights that include Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House at MGM Grand, Table 10 at The Palazzo and the seminal French restaurant Marche Bacchus. He sat down with Las Vegas Magazine’s Kiko Miyasato to chat about food, hard work and sea salt.
Q: Since joining P.U.B., are you planning to change the menu?
A: Well, it’s Todd’s restaurant, so I (respect) that. We’re tweaking things here and there, but consistency is very important to us, so we make sure we keep our thumb on that at all times. But you also have to think about the seasons and (seasonal food) and make sure that the food is on par with everyone else’s. But everything starts with a good philosophy in the kitchen, and if you have that, the food seems to work out really well.
Q: What’s on the menu at the P.U.B.?
A: It’s a gastropub. We have a phenomenal selection of beer. I love beer; it’s going to take me a long time to go through the huge inventory! We have fun food—sliders, pot pies, a carvery with a huge rotisserie where we slice meats—turkey, prime rib, lamb, whole roasted chickens—fresh for our guests.
Q: Do you have a favorite dish?
A: I’m a burger fan. We have a great selection of burgers and we’re pretty creative with the toppings we put on them. I like foie gras, like many other chefs … but really, I like a good burger-and-fry combination.
Q: What ingredient do you have in the kitchen at all times?
A: Sea salt. You can use it in the beginning of cooking and use a sprinkle at the end … it goes a long way. I enjoy different kinds of salt in the kitchen.
Q: What excites you about the Vegas food industry?
A: You can get anything and everything you want here in town. You can go super casual, you can go super high-end.
Q: Is there a specific cuisine that you excel in cooking?
A: I was trained in French cooking. Growing up in Puerto Rico and working with Emeril at the Fish House (at MGM Grand), I know fish very well. I can do seafood very well.
Q: Do you consider being a chef a passion?
A: Of course … you have to in this industry. You have to like the job. You have to come to work knowing that it’s going to be a challenge but at the same time be excited about what you can do that day. You want go to bed knowing that you made the day happen. You have to be a cheerleader, you have to have energy, you have to outlast everyone else in the kitchen.