Momofuku gives its line cooks a chance to shine

Momofuku’s striped bass crudo
Photo: Allyson Faiman / Courtesy

Chefs get most of the glory, but line cooks are often the powerhouses of the restaurant kitchen. These skilled workers toil in obscurity, helping turn raw ingredients into signature recipes.

In February, Momofuku at the Cosmopolitan started a program to help line cooks develop their own dishes— “to give people an opportunity to be creative is everything,” explains chef de cuisine Michael Rubinstein, who goes by Chef Ruby. “I remember being a line cook and having ideas that I was unable to really work on. So I want to ensure that people have the opportunity to do that.”

The program already has a success story: José Rios, one of Momofuku’s 25 line cooks, created a striped bass crudo so delicious, it’s now on the dinner menu. “José really set the standard working with us through the entire process,” Rubinstein says.

For his part, Rios says that it was a “great honor” to have a dish make the menu. His striped bass is a take on the traditional Mexican aguachile, and it’s an ode to Rios’ father, who grew up around the coast of Sinaloa, where the seafood is always fresh. “I just thought, ‘Why not do a crudo that looks at Mexican food through the lens of Momofuku,’” Rios says. “I figured it had all the flavors of Mexico … and I thought it would be a good idea.”

Every three to four weeks, a new line cook creation rotates through Momofuku’s afternoon and late-night menu, so return often to check out the next delicious discovery.

Momofuku Cosmopolitan, 702-698-2663. Daily, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. & 5:30- 11 p.m.

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