You just became executive chef at Andiron in November. How’d you get here? I opened the restaurant [last year] as executive sous, and I was executive sous at Made L.V.
And before that? I came to Vegas to open Sensi at Bellagio, which was like school all over again working with some East Coast guys and a German [chef], then from there went to Le Cirque and worked with David Werly. After those more refined plates, I found I wanted to go back to production a little more, a steakhouse, so I worked at Prime a little and then opened Jean Georges Steakhouse as sous chef under Rob Moore. That gave me a great perspective and the right tools to come here and run a successful restaurant.
How do you know it’s time for a change? I always try to tell myself and tell my cooks the same thing—as soon as you’re done learning, you need to bounce. When you’re uncomfortable in the kitchen, that’s a good thing.
How is restaurant competition different in Summerlin from the Strip? In Summerlin, you have a lot of customers that will be the first ones to take that pen and use it as a knife to cut through on Yelp. You better have your game tight. You definitely have a target on your back here a little more, but as long as you’re keeping consistency where it needs to be, that’s when those things like Yelp stars are going to come through. You just gotta stand by what you do and stand by your ingredients.
You have plenty of competition in Downtown Summerlin. We have Wolfgang Puck right here. We’re going for people who are going to Shake Shack. But we’re trying to be this place people come back to weekly rather than treating us as the place for special occasions. We’ve worked on the menu. We’re not serving a lesser quality steak, just finding some different options like a new Wagyu tri-tip. Our $29 steak is a 12-ounce dry-aged prime ribeye and I’ll put that against anybody’s in town. And we’re adapting. We’re doing We Love Locals Tuesdays with $1 oysters and $5 martinis, and if you want to talk about brunch ... This is probably the best room for brunch you’ve ever seen. We have a DJ playing low-tempo, kinda ’80s stuff, so you’re listening to Nu Shooz’s “I Can’t Wait” while you’re eating porchetta eggs Benedict. You can play Jenga on top of your Bloody Mary glass stacking shrimp, bacon, shrimp, bacon. It’s ridiculous.