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Star chef Andrés has big fan on SLS Las Vegas team


The happiest man at SLS Las Vegas, after Sam Nazarian, might be Danny Elmaleh, the chef at Cleo, the new hotel’s Mediterranean restaurant.

Elmaleh went to Matt Erickson, senior vice president of restaurant operations at SLS Las Vegas, with a request.

“He came to me (Wednesday) and said, ‘I’ve never had a chance to work with José,’ ” said Erickson.

Jose is José Andrés, the Washington, D.C., star chef and TV personality who will operate Bazaar Meat and Ku Noodle restaurants at SLS Las Vegas.

Erickson tracked down Andrés and said, “Danny really wants to work with you.”

The gregarious Andrés, with a smile as wide as his native Spain, welcomed his fellow chef with open arms.

“José went through every dish at Ku Noodle with Danny and every dish at Bazaar Meat,” said Erickson.

“For four hours, he walked him through his philosophy. For Danny, it was like a basketball player being tutored by Michael Jordan.”

Andrés has been a team guy since partnering with Nazarian’s SBE, a Los Angeles nightlife giant, almost six years ago.

Nazarian, SBE’s founder and CEO, and Erickson thought enough of Andrés to give him their blessing to open two restaurants at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas as SBE was making plans to transform the former Sahara into SLS Las Vegas.

“We thought, contrary to what some other partners may have thought, that it was a great opportunity for him,” said Erickson.

“We said, ‘You could learn the Las Vegas market, what works and what doesn’t work. We would totally be OK with that,’ ” said Erickson.

SLS Las Vegas opens at midnight tonight after a VIP party that will include a performance by Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora and midnight fireworks. The doors open to the public after the fireworks display.

If you are among the attendees and wondering what was where: Bazaar Meat was built in the former NASCAR Café space, Katsuya was built in the space formerly occupied by the House of Lords steakhouse, and the Congo Room, the Sahara’s showroom, is now the Congo ballroom.

WALL OF BEER

A high roller apparently wanted more privacy on Monday at XS Nightclub at Encore at Wynn Las Vegas.

So he ordered 400 cases of beer and built a wall around his VIP table.

ESPN’s sports business reporter Darren Rovell posted a photo of the 9,600 cans of beer, saying the purchase cost $80,000. THE SCENE AND HEARD

The Black &White Ball benefiting the HIV/ AIDS community of Nevada will be held Saturday at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel.

SIGHTINGS

Celebrities confirmed to walk the red carpet at the VIP party tonight will include: Nazarian; the culinary director of SLS Las Vegas, Andrés; the designer and creative director of SLS Las Vegas, Philippe Starck; Lenny Kravitz, who designed the suites; “Casino” star Sharon Stone; Oscar winner Jamie Foxx; Aaron Paul of “Breaking Bad”; actor Emile Hirsch; burlesque star Dita Von Teese; singer-actress Brittany Snow; singer-songwriters Jhené Aiko and JoJo; comedian Adam DeVine; “American Idol” finalist Pia Toscano; actor Shane West; DJ Samantha Ronson; The Righteous Young; UFC legend Chuck Liddell, and U.S. soccer player Jermaine Jones.

THE PUNCH LINE

“The NFL wants singing groups to pay the league to perform at halftime of the Super Bowl. Isn’t that crazy? It’s like the NFL decided that there’s some money out there they don’t have their hands on.” — David Letterman

Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or email him at norm@reviewjournal.com. 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.