[Chef Talk]

Veteran chef Dan Rossi on knives, Campari and inspiration

Dan Rossi is Scott Conant’s Las Vegas lieutenant, running the kitchens at Scarpetta and DOCG at Cosmopolitan.
Photo: Leila Navidi

Dan Rossi has a kick-ass resume. He came to Vegas with Alex Stratta to open the iconic Renoir at Mirage in 1997. He transitioned to Steve Wynn’s namesake resort and opened the restaurant Alex as chef de cuisine. Two years later, he worked on changing the property’s Italian restaurant from Corsa Cucina to Stratta. After that, and a stint with David Burke’s restaurant at the Venetian, Rossi found his current home with über-famous chef Scott Conant, working in New York and Toronto while gearing up for Conant’s Vegas arrival. Today Rossi is executive chef at Scarpetta and D.O.C.G. in the Cosmopolitan, emphasizing a warm experience and welcoming rustic cuisine.

Knife of choice: Mac “Alex Stratta turned me on to Mac knives about 20 years ago. My favorite is an 8-inch black sushi knife. It’s super versatile, it fits my hand well, and it has a black Teflon blade that looks cool. It’s great to filet fish or break down a chicken but also for more intricate knife work, just super sharp.”

Ultimate aperitif: Campari “Being Italian, we like our bitter stuff. I’ll do it with vodka and soda and orange, or we have an awesome cocktail at Scarpetta called San Remo, which is bourbon-based. But there’s Campari in it, and it’s very well-balanced. Drink a few of those and kick back when the sun is shining, and they’ll creep up on ya.”

Burger of choice: Bachi Burger (9410 W. Sahara Ave. #150, 255-3055) “I live on the west side of town, so we have the new one, and it’s really hard to live up to expectations of the original location once you start opening subsidiaries. That bar is set up high. But it’s really good. I like the banh mi burger, probably my favorite, and the ronin burger, too. The truffle fries are great.”

Favorite food philosopher: Marco Pierre White “His first book was my first culinary bible. It’s out of print now. My first job, I worked for a French chef that beat the sh*t out of me mentally, and I worked with a line cook that had his book. It has some of my favorite pictures, great black and white photography, and great quotes. ‘At the end of the day, it’s just food.’ That really got into my head.”

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