Las Vegas’ obsession with celebrity chefs has not been sated yet. Building on rumors that began with his visit during Vegas Uncork’d, Chicago chef-restaurateur Graham Elliot acknowledged last week that a new restaurant is in the works for him at a yet-to-be-named Strip resort.
“There’s a couple different spaces that we’re looking at right now,” Elliot told me last week. “I can’t discuss the concept or the properties they’re at,” he added—although the fact that he was photographed with chefs François Payard, Guy Savoy and Gordon Ramsay at Uncork’d makes it pretty clear which resort company we’re talking about: the increasingly star-chef-studded Caesars Entertainment.
Though Elliot co-stars with Ramsay and the Venetian’s favorite co-restaurateur, Joe Bastianich (B&B, Enoteca Otto, Carnevino and the upcoming B&B Burger & Beer) on hit FOX series MasterChef, Vegas should note that it’s hardly getting another glad-handing, flyby media star. Elliot is one of Chicago’s most esteemed and polarizing chefs. Having come up under chefs Dean Fearing (The Mansion at Turtle Creek), Charlie Trotter (Charlie Trotter) and Rick Tramonto (TRU), Elliot runs one of only three Chicago restaurants with two or more Michelin stars, and has several James Beard Award nominations under his belt, among other accolades.
However, by his own admission, he’s also been “kicked off of Yelp three times” for challenging negative reviews, and last year he ejected a critic from one of his places mid-meal. His Twitter wrath is well-documented. For those keeping track, Elliot would join fellow Chicagoans Shawn McClain (Sage, Five50), Kerry Simon (Simon at Palms Place, KGB) and Jean Joho (Eiffel Tower Restaurant) in town.
Elliot wouldn’t go into detail about the restaurant, only to say emphatically, “It wouldn’t be like anything I currently have open in Chicago.” That means, alas, no two-Michelin-star-level place like the eponymous Graham Elliot, but also not just a rubberstamp of the quick-service GrahamWich or seasonal and semi-casual GE Bistro.
Perhaps, this reporter suggests, he might want to open a burger place?
“Hah. Yeah, right?”