Like two proud bulls, Spanish star chefs Julian Serrano and Jose Andres might have a territorial thing.
During a recent interview, Andres brought up Serrano and suggested he had learned part of the trade from Andres.
“I find out when I opened here that Julian Serrano finally left his French side and decided to open (a tapas restaurant),” said Andres, whose restaurant empire is based in Washington, D.C. “Funny, Julian Serrano used to be a sous-chef of mine. He worked for me for many years. In Washington, he was a sous-chef.”
If it was meant in jest, Serrano didn’t find it funny.
“I never did, never want to and never will. Never, never, never. That’s absolute (expletive),” said Serrano, one of the most decorated chefs in Las Vegas since opening Picasso at Bellagio in 1998.
Serrano, who opened Julian Serrano Restaurant at Aria in December 2009, said they have met “many times” and worked a charity event together.
Andres, who opened Jaleo and China Poblano at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in December 2010, did not respond to a request left with his office.
FACING A TEST BY FIRE
Ja’Nel Witt, the Season 11 winner of “Hell’s Kitchen,” won’t be thrown into the fire upon her arrival at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill.
Minutes after presenting Witt with her chef’s jacket on Thursday, Ramsay said, “We’re not going to expose her and throw her off the deep end.”
Las Vegas, he said, “is very competitive, high-end, fast and furious. We’re going to get up to speed.”
Witt’s win became official when Ramsay showed up at his pub at Caesars Palace at the end of the two-hour viewing party for the finale of the Fox reality TV competition. The finale was filmed in Los Angeles.
As head chef, she will serve with executive chef Jeremy Berlin.
Ramsay said Witt’s composure stood out in a year of female dominance.
“One thing Ja’Nel brought to the table early on was that level of etiquette, with her calmness under pressure. That says a lot,” he said.
Ramsay added, “So if you can handle a fully booked restaurant, control the brigade and still come out on top, she’s good enough to be in that position at Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill.”
Among the viewing party guests was Christina Wilson, winner of Season 10 of “Hell’s Kitchen.” She’s been working at Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas since September.
“Ja’Nel will have it smoother than when I first got here,” Wilson said. “I started on Sept. 12. I was in L.A. for the Sept. 10 finale, did interviews on the 11th and landed here at 11 a.m. and was in my chef whites by 12:30 p.m.”
The transition should be helped by the fact that the public kitchen is enclosed, compared to an open kitchen.
“It should be a little smoother sailing. I wouldn’t call my start rough, but it was choppy the first few months,” Wilson said.
THE SCENE AND HEARD
Jason Sudeikis broke the news on the “Late Show With David Letterman” last week: He won’t be returning to “Saturday Night Live” after a 10-year run, two as a writer and the last eight as a cast member. He jumped to “SNL” from “The Second City” show at the Flamingo.
Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul, with Carmelo Anthony and Jerry Stackhouse at Lavo (Palazzo) Friday. ... Floyd Mayweather Jr., celebrating a friend’s birthday at Hakkasan (MGM Grand) on Friday with a large group. Also at Hakkasan: Damon and Marlon Wayans. ... David Spade, celebrating his 100th show on Friday with a three-tiered cake at The Sands Showroom (Venetian). Joining Spade was singer Josh Groban and actress and comedian Rachel Harris. ... Stage mentalist Gerry McCambridge, marking his 2,000th Las Vegas appearance on Saturday at Planet Hollywood Resort. ... “Divas Las Vegas” star Frank Marino, digging into fried calamari and stuffed artichoke on Friday night at the newly opened Carmine’s inside The Forum Shops at Caesars. ... Former Ohio State stars Greg Oden and Mike Conley, dining at Andrea’s (Encore) on Friday. Oden, the first pick of the 2007 NBA Draft, is hoping for a comeback after sitting out four years with injuries. ... Illusionist David Copperfield, with a friend at The Cosmopolitan on Friday. ... Caesars Palace President Gary Selesner, marking his 60th birthday at the “Hell’s Kitchen 11” viewing party. There is scuttlebutt that Caesars is putting together a deal to add Virgil’s Real Barbecue to its family of restaurants. Virgil’s is owned by the Alicart Restaurant Group, which recently opened its first Carmine’s at Caesars, the first Carmine’s out West.
THE PUNCH LINE
“The NFL wants to test its players for human growth hormone, but the players are opposed. Players say there’s a time and place for blood tests, and that’s at their murder trials.” — Conan O’Brien
Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke. “Norm Clarke’s Vegas,” airs Thursdays on the “Morning Blend” on KTNV-TV, Channel 13.