She’s hardly bigger than a petite filet, but Nicole Brisson is poised to make a big splash on our local and national food scene. Don’t let her size fool you. This 5-foot-2 dynamo can handle a slab of steer meat, or a kitchen of busy line cooks, with the best of them, which is why Mario Batali has made her top toque at Carnevino—his palace of prime in the Palazzo.
The 30-year-old’s pedigree is as impressive as the dry-aged steaks she serves. Starting as a prep cook in upstate New York when she was a mere 14, she went on to Johnson & Wales University, the renowned cooking school, before Italian food expert Faith Willinger arranged for her to stage at some of the best kitchens in Italy before Stephen Kalt brought her to Vegas to open Corsa Cucina in the Wynn in 2005. From there she worked at Bartolotta, then jumped across Spring Mountain Road in 2007 to the Batali/Bastianich universe, rising through the ranks to take over the Carnevino kitchen in June 2010.
That universe keeps expanding (a Molto Mario Hong Kong restaurant is in the works), as do Brisson’s horizons. “I trained as a classical chef, but now my life is dominated by meat,” she tells us with a twinkle in her eye. She’s being tight-lipped about it, but we have it on good authority she’s been cast in a very popular cooking show for the upcoming season—meaning this petite purveyor of prime is ready for prime time.