Las Vegas celebrity chefs continue to elevate the Strip’s dining scene
Big names and bright lights go together well. Celebrity chefs have made a tremendous impact on the Las Vegas Strip over the last 25 years, fueling a restaurant renaissance and setting a new standard for fine dining in the desert. But none of these food figures are merely celebrities or just chefs; they are industry titans, innovative restaurateurs, media moguls and household names. And Las Vegas remains a major part of what they do.
He’s known as the fiery chef for his intense attitude on the Hell’s Kitchen reality competition show, but Ramsay’s dominance on the Strip could also be described as a wildfire. While he was expanding his operations around the globe and developing compelling new concepts for TV, Ramsay quickly built on his first Vegas restaurant, Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas, with an army of options. You can also savor the flavor these days at Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips at the Linq, Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill or Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Palace.
He’s best known as the stern head judge of the genre-defining cooking competition show Top Chef, but Colicchio can really cook and certainly knows his way around the business. He co-founded the legendary Gramercy Tavern in New York City before he created the Crafted Hospitality brand, and he’s operated two of the most popular and acclaimed steakhouses on the Strip for years now in Craftsteak at MGM Grand and Heritage Steak at The Mirage. Vegas fans likely also remember his former sandwich shop, Wichcraft, which provided the perfect post-pool snack at MGM Grand for years.
Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken
These business partners and lifelong friends cooked together in Chicago and Paris before opening City Café in L.A. in 1981 and expanding the restaurant before debuting Border Grill in 1985. Their dedication to authentic Mexican flavors struck a chord with diners around the world, and the Border Grill brand expanded to the Strip with a landmark location at Mandalay Bay. Also known for long-running cooking show Too Hot Tamales, Feniger and Milliken have authored numerous cookbooks and pursued various restaurant projects together and individually, always maintaining the highest culinary standards and injecting their own personal style.
Easily one of the biggest names of all time in TV cooking shows, the master of Creole and Cajun cuisines and James Beard Award winner has played an essential role in the development of fine dining on the Las Vegas Strip. His Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House was a game changer when it arrived at MGM Grand almost 25 years ago, and it still stands strong as one of the most popular seafood eateries in the city. And Lagasse’s top-notch Delmonico Steakhouse at The Venetian is always in the conversation when it comes to the best place on the Strip for a classic steakhouse experience.
Recently voted by readers as “Best Strip Chef” in Las Vegas Weekly’s All-Time Best of Vegas special issue, Mina has arguably created a more diverse portfolio of dynamic Las Vegas restaurants than anyone else. It started with the famed Aqua at Bellagio, now known as the seafood-focused Michael Mina Bellagio, but the San Francisco-based chef and restaurateur has also created the fantastically French Bardot Brasserie at Aria, modern chophouse Stripsteak at Mandalay Bay and teamed with fellow Bay Area favorite Ayesha Curry for International Smoke at MGM Grand. You can’t go wrong when you’re dining with Mina.
The high-energy style of the host of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives and the culinary bombast of Vegas were a match made in heaven. The Ohio-born, California-raised graduate of UNLV’s College of Hospitality owned and operated restaurants before he won the second season of The Next Food Network Star and became just that, but he took his brand and over-the-top cooking to the next level when he opened Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar at The Linq in 2014. It remains one of the most popular casual eateries on the Strip, famous for big portions and bold flavors.
This Venezuelan chef is revered for the passionate, soulful cooking she demonstrated with such energy on Top Chef Masters. But Garcia actually planned to become an attorney and earned a law degree before changing course and studying the culinary arts at the prestigious Johnson & Wales University. She toured the world, working and learning about food, before settling in Miami’s Design District and making her name with several unique restaurant projects. In 2017, Garcia partnered with 50 Eggs Hospitality to open Chica at The Venetian, a brilliant sampling of cuisines from Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Argentina and her native Venezuela, among others.
The Austrian icon took a big gamble when he opened a flashy second location of his wildly popular Spago restaurant at The Forum Shops at Caesars in 1992. Back then, there were only certain types of fine-dining spots on the Strip and certainly nothing like the glamorous scene he was creating and serving on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. But Puck created that scene at Caesars and attracted that glamorous clientele to Las Vegas, all while setting the stage for a trendy evolution of restaurants in Sin City. Others followed and Puck built a Vegas dynasty that now includes Spago’s relocated site at Bellagio, Cut at The Palazzo, Lupo at Mandalay Bay, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill at MGM Grand and the Players Locker sports bar at Downtown Summerlin.
One of the world’s most famous chefs and a protégé of Paul Bocuse, Vongerichten had already traveled the world, developed a unique personal style by combining a French foundation with Asian techniques and flavors and cooked in prestigious kitchens from Hong Kong to New York City when he was approached by Steve Wynn about opening a restaurant at Bellagio. Vongerichten agreed and created Prime, the regal lakeside steakhouse that cultivated countless culinary talents through the years including Wylie Dufresne and Kerry Simon. The chef expanded his Vegas presence in 2009 with the sleek and inviting Jean Georges Steakhouse at Aria.
Giada De Laurentiis
The granddaughter of film producer Dino De Laurentiis, this Italian-born icon exploded into the industry as a TV personality after attending Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, training to become a pastry chef and cooking at restaurants such as Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Los Angeles. Through shows like Everyday Italian, Giada at Home and Giada in Italy, she’s become one of the most popular faces in the history of the Food Network while building her own media dynasty including cookbooks and her lifestyle website The Giadzy. She waited for the perfect opportunity to open her very first restaurant in Las Vegas, Giada at The Cromwell, before expanding into other cities and creating the fast-casual concept Pronto by Giada, now open at Caesars Palace.
Click here for your free subscription to the weekly digital edition of Las Vegas Magazine, your guide to everything to do, hear, see and experience in Southern Nevada. As part of your subscription, each week via email you will receive the latest edition of Las Vegas Magazine, full of informative content such as restaurants to visit, cocktails to sip and attractions to enjoy.