It isn’t every day a 22-year-old gets a private tour of restaurant Joël Robuchon, then gets offered a job two weeks later—but that’s exactly what happened when chef Wilfried Bergerhausen came to Las Vegas on vacation in 2008. Less than a month later, Bergerhausen had moved here from France to work at MGM Grand’s most prestigious dining destination.
In 2014, Bergerhausen became executive chef of Bellagio’s quintessential French restaurant Le Cirque. “We always get excited, not for an item but an idea,” he says of the renowned New York City offshoot. “We try to not only focus on the flavor, but also the season. What is the meaning of the season? It’s not only one ingredient, but the whole idea and the whole concept.”
For Le Cirque, presentation is key—something Bergerhausen brings from his origins in pastry. “There is a lot of technique in pastry,” he says. “They are much more delicate with the presentation, so that’s the route that I take. You eat with your eyes before you try the food. If it doesn’t look good, I’m not going to get excited.”
To understand his perspective, Bergerhausen recommends the dégustation menu—five courses featuring options like sautéed foie gras with poached rhubarb and white chocolate gastrique; carnarolli risotto with Alba white truffles; and braised veal cheeks with black trumpet mushrooms. “I get bored very fast, so I’m always trying to work on something different,” he says.
Even on the rare occasion when he isn’t at Le Cirque, Bergerhausen stays focused on what’s next. “Every week I try to go somewhere else. I travel to see the different restaurants and see what’s going on. It’s always in the back of the head, even if you want to relax.” It’s the life of a chef, he says. “That’s what we do.”