It’s 4:30 a.m., and chef Jaret Blinn is wide awake and ready to put me to work. It’s a typical morning for the CraftKitchen owner, except that I’m here for a behind-the-scenes look at the bakery—specifically the journey each pastry makes before it gets to the customer’s plate.
It’s a lot of prep work, making sure all the dough for the pretzel rolls, croissants, cinnamon rolls and cronuts is proofed and ready to be baked. For the next four hours, Blinn takes me under his wing, showing me how to make pretzel dough—which, to my surprise, requires way more upper arm strength than I possess—and how to garnish all of CraftKitchen’s delicious pastries.
There’s a lot to learn from Blinn, who left his role as executive pastry chef at Red Rock Resort to open his Henderson restaurant in October 2015. It’s been a neighborhood favorite ever since.
“Hey Kaleb, grab the egg wash!” Blinn shouts over the loud hum of the bread mixers. Baker Kaleb Skougard brings the container over, and we begin covering raw, doughy croissants in the mixture. Blinn, an award-winning pastry chef, has worked at the Ritz-Carlton in Maui and San Francisco and at Lake Las Vegas, and he was executive pastry chef at Le Cirque and Circo before Red Rock Resort and opening his own restaurant.
“I had to adapt immediately,” he says. “I’ve been in the game long enough to see both sides. Ritz-Carlton gave me the service aspect. Volume was the Bellagio. If you didn’t figure out how to streamline stuff, you’re done. Then when I was at Red Rock I learned a lot more about the numbers, the financials, the HR. In this day and age, you have to have that balance.”
I finish egg-washing the croissants and dunking cronuts in chocolate and matcha-flavored icings, a relaxing exercise compared to the morning’s earlier activities. And while I’m not sure I could get up at 3:30 a.m. every day, one glance at the happy customers in the lobby tells me why Blinn does. “We do this stuff for other people,” he says. “Those are the fun things. That’s what makes it worth it.”
CraftKitchen 10940 S. Eastern Ave., 702-728-5828. Daily, 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m.