Todd Clore became a chef in the classical way, by starting at the bottom (as a dishwasher) in a restaurant in his hometown of Denver, at age 15.
In the family-owned New Mexican restaurant the grandmother was the cook, and she became Clore’s mentor. Within seven months he was cooking, and within two years he was running the restaurant.
He also was enrolled in a culinary-arts program at a local vocational school and, encouraged by faculty there, went on to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.
Jobs in Napa Valley and Southern California followed. In 1995, he was hired as chef de cuisine for the Sterling Brunch at Bally’s, which gained numerous honors and a loyal following. In 2004, Clore opened Todd’s Unique Dining at 4350 E. Sunset Road in Henderson.
Running your own restaurant doesn’t leave much in the way of spare time, but for this week’s Entertainment Diet, we asked Clore what he does in the little time he has.
TV: DVRs are a great thing. I end up doing that, or bingeing on Netflix. A couple of my favorite shows are “House of Cards” — love that show — and I love “Suits” and “Orange Is the New Black.” As far as regular TV, I watch the chef shows; I try to stay current with what’s out there. (As for the Food Network), I like some of the shows; I’m not into the “Chopped” thing. Anthony Bourdain I like. I think he has interesting viewpoints.
MOVIES: Even though I watch other movies, I feel like it’s food and chef-driven. The last movie I liked was “Burnt” with Bradley Cooper. I like the movie “Chef” a lot, with the food truck. And “Bottle Shock,” because I collect wine. That was an Alan Rickman movie about the (Judgment of Paris) tasting in ’76. I lived in Napa right after that. That was current for me, so it was relevant. From a wine perspective, it was funny. There was so much tongue-in-cheek in there, if you don’t know wine. A lot of his wines were merlot-based, and he was always dissing merlot. It was a good movie. It obviously changed my industry. Merlot went out, and pinot noir — anything with a “P” — was in.
MUSIC: It really depends on the day and the atmosphere. When we’re cooking, when I’m here early in the morning and nobody’s here, I’m cranking up the classic rock — all the people that I grew up with, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Crosby Stills and Nash, those are all the people who were kind of in my developing days. I go in there and crank it up and get the energy going. And Pink; we crank her music sometimes before service. And since she is local, I am disappointed she hasn’t come into the restaurant. Then, of course, I could meet her. We slow it down later in the day, obviously, when we get people in, and switch over to smooth jazz. I like the Norah Jones kind, that kind of vocal smooth jazz. She’s got a great voice.
DINING OUT: I try to practice what I preach as much as I can. I try to go to all chef-driven local restaurants. On this side of town we’re starting to get a few more; before, Summerlin was where you had to go. Lotus of Siam has been solid for years and years. I’m glad that Carlito’s Burritos came over by me. That’s a real niche, New Mexican food, and that’s what I grew up on. His Hatch green chile is amazing. Obviously, none of us little guys have big corporations behind us; that’s why it goes from good to bad real quick. We’ve lost three big players in restaurants. The first one was David Clawson in October. And Alex Stratta twice; he closed and tried to redo the concept. And then Bernard’s Bistro. And Kerry Simon; even though (all of) his restaurants didn’t close, he was another one we lost recently from the local scene (both Simon and Bernard Tordjman passed away). I do try to split it up between the Strip and local. Obviously, on the Strip, I’ve got to keep current with what the big guys are doing. One of those is Julian Serrano. That’s the other side of the coin — the local guy on steroids. He’s one of a few (on the Strip) that is actually in town the majority of the time and in his kitchens, so that’s a positive.
— Heidi Knapp Rinella