Culinary celebrities populate Vegas’ kitchens
Your palate has some high-powered pals. Top-tier chefs of every conceivable style and specialty cover this city like rainbow sprinkles on an ice cream cone. Hoping to aid you on your Vegas culinary adventures, we’ve prepared a dossier on the dominant dish-maestros and their dynamic dining centers at MGM Resorts International properties.
You haven’t visited Vegas until you dine the Michael Mina way at his quartet of upscale eateries: Aria’s Bardot Brasserie, MGM Grand’s Pub 1842, Mandalay Bay’s Stripsteak and Michael Mina at Bellagio. Founder of the Mina Group of 18 concept restaurants, he’s one of the most celebrated of celebrity chefs.
Stake your claim to steak supreme, courtesy of chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, at both of his meaty meccas: Prime Steakhouse at Bellagio and his namesake restaurant at Aria. Born and raised in France, Vongerichten is also the force behind foodie havens in London, New York, Paris, Shanghai and Tokyo.
Great food? Well, that’s Malarkey. As in Brian Malarkey, the ex-Top Chef competitor, who has created more than a dozen successful restaurants nationwide, including Vegas hotspots Herringbone—featuring his “ocean-to-table” concept at Aria—and comfort food-centered Searsucker at Caesars Palace.
Scoring an epicurean hat trick in Vegas, Chef Shawn McClain tempts the tastebuds at gastropub Libertine Social at Mandalay Bay, and a double hit of his varied food philosophy at Aria—a fine dining experience at Sage and Five50 Pizza Bar to savor a slice or three.
What jumps out of Todd English’s resume more—his TV celebrity on PBS shows Food Trip and Cooking Under Fire, or his high-flying gig as lead chef for Delta Airlines? Assuming you didn’t fly Delta to Vegas, you can taste the English magic here at Todd English P.U.B, specializing in American-British pub fare at the Shops at Crystals, and Olive’s, offering upscale Mediterranean dishes at Bellagio.
Star chefs don’t get starrier than Charlie Palmer, the progressive restaurateur and, as with Serrano, a fellow two-time James Beard Foundation winner. Taste his mastery at Charlie Palmer Steak at the Four Seasons, where his innovative culinary talents are complemented in a clubby atmosphere amid rich mahogany surroundings. Then stare up at his four-story wine tower while enjoying American fare at the Delano’s Aureole.
Double your culinary pleasures thanks to the twin talents of longtime collaborators Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. Their habit of pairing up extends to overseeing the contemporary Mexican specialties and urban cantina vibe at both Border Grill outposts, one each at Mandalay Bay and Caesars Palace. After all, as the Food Network dubbed them, these ladies are Too Hot Tamales.
Once you’ve been named Chef of the Century—as Joel Robuchon was in 1989 by the French restaurant guide Gault Millau—what do you do next? Make your mark in the next one. Here in Vegas, the famed restaurateur has done that at his namesake restaurant at the MGM Grand, which resembles an art deco townhouse, with sophisticated culinary offerings, highlighted by “L’Unique,” its signature three-course prix fixe menu.
Steel yourself for the Iron Chef. Despite his international renown—born of the Fuji Television show Iron Chef and its Americanized Food Network spinoff—Masaharu Morimoto, the ex-Nobu head chef, hadn’t staked his claim in Las Vegas until late last year, when his eponymous eatery opened at the MGM Grand. Specializing in upscale Japanese fare, both the man and his restaurant are now woven into the fabric of the Vegas dining scene.
Here come Da Judge—in an epicurean sense. Chalk that up to Tom Colicchio’s fame as a judge on Bravo’s Top Chef, as well as appearing (and producing) that network’s Best New Restaurant series. Here in Vegas, the five-time James Beard award-winner weaves his culinary magic at MGM Grand’s Craftsteak. Don’t worry—he won’t judge your table manners.
Whomever thought up the concept of a celebrity chef clearly had Wolfgang Puck in mind. No one embodies it more. Restaurants, catering services, cookbooks, licensed products—even acting. He’s done it all. On the Vegas scene, become a Puck aficionado at his Spago at Caesars Palace, Trattoria del Lupo at Mandalay Bay, Cut steakhouse at the Palazzo and Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria and Cucina at The Shops at Crystals. You can even dine at a Wolfgang Puck Express at McCarran International Airport. Think of it as a quick Puck-stop.
“Farm-to-table freshness”—that’s the alluring selling point from Chef Roy Ellamar at Bellagio’s Harvest restaurant, which took over from the hotel’s Sensi, where Ellamar was executive chef. As he told Las Vegas Magazine last year: “I want to celebrate the people who harvest the food for us.”
Winner of the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award—twice—Julian Serrano is a longtime bona fide kitchen king and those royal skills can be tasted at his signature epicurean emporiums: Bellagio’s elegant Picasso, which reinvents French and Spanish cuisine, and his namesake establishment at Aria, with its creative interpretations of Spanish fare.
One word: “savoureux.” That’s French for “tasty,” and it’s the only word you need to characterize the fare at Hubert Keller’s Las Vegas eateries. Sample the French-born chef’s talents at Burger Bar at The Shops at Mandalay Place, where every innovative twist on that classic food you can imagine—and a few you can’t—are available. Then check out Mandalay Bay’s Fleur—described as “a safari for the senses”—with its small plate treats from around the globe.
You know him—does “BAM!” ring a bell?—and you love him. That goes for Emeril Lagasse’s signature Las Vegas restaurants: Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House at MGM Grand; the Venetian’s Delmonico Steakhouse; the casual, Creole-tinged style of the Palazzo’s Table 10; and the sports bar/ restaurant Lagasse’s Stadium, also at the Palazzo. BAM!—tie on the ol’ feedbag.