55°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

8 chefs to compete for job at soon-to-open Las Vegas steakhouse

The next big Las Vegas prizefight will have ranges and rolling pins instead of ropes and a ring. And the prize will be not a belt, but a job as head chef at a brand new, $10 million restaurant.

“Vegas Chef Prizefight” will debut at 10 p.m. Thursday on the Food Network with the arrival of the eight chefs and their first test: cooking at BLT Steak at Bally’s. Celebrity chef Anne Burrell will host the show and serve as coach. Fellow notable chef Scott Conant, who has headed kitchens at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and Red Rock Resort, will be a recurring judge, along with Eileen Moore, regional president for Caesars Entertainment. Each show also has two guest judges, with three for the final.

As the six-episode series progresses from week to week, the competing chefs will tour Caesars restaurants including El Burro Borracho at the Rio, Mr. Chow and Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace and Giada at The Cromwell. The series winner will be decided in a 90-minute episode on April 9 and will take over the kitchen at Bugsy & Meyer’s, scheduled to open May 1 at the Flamingo.

Moore said the range of restaurants in Caesars’ Las Vegas portfolio makes the competition unique, because the contestants are tested in the super-casual El Burro Borracho, the ultra-luxe Guy Savoy and everything in between.

“For us, it was about seeing the versatility of these chefs and really discovering what level of creativity and cuisine they could come up with,” she said. “Unlike some other shows, where they’re just in a test kitchen, this was about actually having a complete dinner service prepped and ready to go. The pressure these contestants were under was real, and it was exciting.”

Moore said contestants start each segment with a session with Burrell in the test kitchen, after which they do a takeover at the designated restaurant.

“She really coached them in the kitchen,” she said. “As a judge, we were able to see how they interacted. There’s a lot that goes on in the kitchen. It really does, like they say, get hot in the kitchen, both in competition and intrigue. That comes out in one of the episodes — how they’re viewed by their peers and how they step up as a leader.”

The variety of guest judges, she said, brought differing perspectives to the competition.

Moore, who has operated dozens of restaurants during her career, got a new perspective, too.

“I had the best time,” she said. “I learned a lot. It was very inspiring.”

At Bugsy & Meyer’s

The restaurant that represents the grand prize was still in the construction stages during a media tour Friday afternoon, but it’s taking reservations through OpenTable for May 1 and thereafter. Moore said it’s “an amazing outlet. It goes back to the glitz and glamour of the 1940s — our heritage.”

The restaurant is named for Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and business partner Meyer Lansky, who opened the Flamingo, the first of its kind on the fledgling Strip, in 1946, and is designed to reflect an era when dinner patrons were more likely to be wearing furs and pearls than shorts and flip-flops.

It’s a wink at the history of the mob era. For example, guests will enter through what will appear to passers-by to be a bakery, complete with wares in display windows on either side of the door. Then they’ll pass through a “secret” entrance to the dining room.

“If you were in the cool crowd, you never came in through the front door,” said Jonathan Pacheco, the restaurant’s general manager.

Immediately after entering, they’ll come as close to walking through the kitchen as local health codes permit, following a wall of windows for a peek at the action, then passing a cooler where the restaurant’s dry-aged meat will be showcased. Pacheco said plans are to enable a guest to choose their cut from the case, if they desire.

William Becker, vice president of food and beverage for the Flamingo, The Linq and the Cromwell, said the restaurant will present six separate “experiences.” Among them will be the Patio, an indoor space that will provide views of the hotel’s wildlife habitat. Another is the lounge, with a huge oval bar as its centerpiece, surrounded by raised booths and featuring live entertainment evoking the ’20s to the ’50s on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Count Room, styled as a speakeasy, will seat 10 at its bar and will be open later than the rest of Bugsy & Meyer’s. While the restaurant will be decorated in light pastels, the Count Room will have the dark woods of a traditional steakhouse. The raw bar will be a source of entertainment in the form of staff preparing seafood and a view of the kitchen beyond.

Pacheco said the restaurant will be “rum-centric,” a nod to Lansky’s time in Miami and Cuba, and Cuban touches will show up on the food and cocktail menus. A cart will serve rum-based Old Fashioneds, and food carts are planned.

It’s clear that entertainment will be important. Becker said the restaurant was conceived with an eye to the opening of the Caesars Forum conference center nearby.

“We sort of built this place for the convention guest,” he said. “They’ll have the whole story of the restaurant before they sit down. When the experience becomes a greater thing than the food, that’s OK, too.”

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0474. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Boarded-up businesses in the Arts District add some color - VIDEO
Businesses in the Arts District have commissioned local artists to paint murals on the boards covering their doors and windows. When the boards are removed, they will be auctioned off to raise money for those affected by the coronavirus shutdowns. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sold-out Electric Daisy Carnival still scheduled for May - VIDEO
In a post on his social media platforms, festival founder Pasquale Rotella confirmed that EDC remains scheduled for May 15-17 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway despite coronavirus concerns that have sideline scads of other live music events. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
City of Las Vegas responds to calls to allow restaurants offering curbside pickup
Alcohol is now allowed in curbside meal pickups in Las Vegas. The city of Las Vegas has responded to calls to allow restaurants offering curbside pickup service to include alcohol in those meals. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lady Gaga delays new album release - VIDEO
The pop star was planning to drop her sixth LP, "Chromatica," on April 10, but she's made the "tough decision" to push back the launch following the coronavirus outbreak. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ways to keep yourself from going crazy at home during coronavirus - VIDEO
Take art classes with your kids. Install a bidet. Practice yoga. Buy houseplants. Catch up your streaming queue. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas nightclub giant Hakkasan Group lays off 1,600 - VIDEO
The Las Vegas Strip’s leading nightlife company has let go of nearly its entire workforce, leaving about 1,600 staffers suddenly unemployed, due to the shutdowns during the coronavirus crisis. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Disneyland closes in response to coronavirus - VIDEO
Walt Disney Company announced the closure of its Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, on Thursday afternoon. Known as the "happiest place on earth," Disneyland has closed its doors only three other times in 65 years. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts to temporarily close buffets amid coronavirus fears - VIDEO
MGM Resorts International will temporarily close its Las Vegas buffets, effective Sunday amid growing coronavirus fears. (Al Mancini and James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morimoto tackles Italian cooking at Eataly Las Vegas
Masaharu Morimoto showed off his skills in a slightly different context Thursday night, when he dropped by Manzo in Eataly to launch the Italian restaurant’s new Guest Chef series. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Terry Fator leaving Mirage on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
The 11-year Las Vegas Strip headliner is on a venue hunt, confirming Wednesday he is leaving his eponymous theater at The Mirage this summer for parts uncharted. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Garth Brooks to play first concert at Allegiant Stadium - VIDEO
Country megastar Garth Brooks is the first non-football event announced for the $2 billion, 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Post Malone reveals his face tattoos are due to being 'ugly' - VIDEO
In a new interview with 'GQ,' the 24-year-old admitted his body art is linked to insecurity issues. [The face tattoos do] maybe come from a place of insecurity, to where I don’t like how I look .., Post Malone, via 'GQ'. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 Las Vegas chefs to watch - VIDEO
If you want to know what’s next for dining in Las Vegas, we suggest paying close attention to these five accomplished chefs. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Slanted Door in The Forum Shops at Caesars - VIDEO
The Slanted Door, Charles Phan's James Beard Award-winning modern Vietnamese restaurant, will open a Las Vegas location on March 2. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas REview-Journal)
Buddy V opens PizzaCake at Harrah’s - VIDEO
Buddy Valastro, aka Cake Boss Buddy V, is in town this week overseeing the soft opening of his new restaurant, PizzaCake, in Harrah’s Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making mist-shrouded tuna poke at Marssa at the Westin Lake Las Vegas - VIDEO
E.J. Estrella, banquet chef at Marssa at the Westin Lake Las Vegas, makes tuna poke by mixing chunks of bigeye tuna with sliced green onions, julienned white onions and house-made poke sauce and serving it on a bed of seaweed salad garnished with lotus chips and suspended over melon-scented mist. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making baked goat cheese at Ri Ra in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Shea Wafford, sous chef and pastry chef at Ri Ra at The Shoppes at Mandalay Place in Las Vegas, makes baked goat cheese served with honey-nut pesto, pickled red onions, peppadew relish and sourdough baguette. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bruce Kalman cooking at Ada’s - VIDEO
Celebrity chef Bruce Kalman will be cooking at Ada's in Tivoli Village in Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making banana cream pie at Cut in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Nicole Earl, pastry chef at Cut at the Palazzo in Las Vegas, makes an updated banana cream pie by layering banana ice cream, custard and compote with house-made Cool Whip, vanilla wafers and 24-karat gold leaf in a milk chocolate sphere and drizzling it with warm banana-caramel sauce so it devolves into petals. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making Chile Colorado at Kitchen Table and Kitchen Table Squared in Las Vegas
Javier Chavez, chef/owner of Kitchen Table and Kitchen Table Squared in Las Vegas, makes Chile Colorado by braising pork belly with three kinds of peppers and serving it atop stewed black beans with crema and pickled jalapeño, carrots and onions, with flour tortillas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Tap introduces its vegan CrazyShake - VIDEO
Black Tap at The Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip has a new CrazyShake that's vegan -- The Black ’N White CakeShake. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Guy Fieri reflects on the Las Vegas dining scene
Celebrity chef Guy Fieri talks about the Las Vegas food scene while in town celebrating his 52nd birthday. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Familiar faces among Circa culinary lineup
Derek Stevens and chefs Barry Dakake and Dan Coughlin talk about some of the new restaurants for Stevens' Circa resort project. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making the Ausser Rand und Band (Over the Top) bloody mary at the Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas
The Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas serves the Ausser Rand und Band bloody mary with Hofbrau Dunkel, vodka, bloody mary mix, a Tajin rim and a soft pretzel, slider, bacon, sausage and more. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Custom Pizza Truck is a 'kitchen on wheels' - VIDEO
Custom Pizza Truck serves pizzas in a one of a kind food truck that traveled to Poland and back. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @elipagephoto
Squidhat Records comes to an end - VIDEO
Founder Allan Carter explains decision to shutter the Las Vegas label. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kaiseki Yuzu relocates to Chinatown - VIDEO
Kaiseki Yuzu restaurant celebrated its move from Henderson to Chinatown at 3900 Spring Mountain Road on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Panic! at the Disco frontman opens studio for kids - VIDEO
Panic! at the Disco frontman Brendon Urie launches Notes for Notes at a Henderson Boys & Girls Club. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A sneak peek at the new Mas Por Favor in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Mas Por Favor in Las Vegas’ Chinatown is an Instagram dream come true with original art, an arch of skulls and one of roses. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegan menu unveiled on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Truth & Tonic, one of the two dining spots within The Venetian’s Canyon Ranch Spa + Fitness, rolled out its new plant-based menu on Friday. Executive chef Pete Ghione talks about the menu. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST