John Church is trading in a landmark wine tower for a landmark observation tower. The chef, who has served as executive chef of Aureole in Mandalay Bay since 2016, is leaving to become corporate executive chef and head of culinary development for Golden Entertainment, which recently acquired the Stratosphere just north of the Strip.
Church’s last day at Aureole will be March 6. He plans to start with Golden on March 12. Although the company’s portfolio includes the PT’s and Arizona Charlie’s chains, as well as casinos in Pahrump, Laughlin and Fintstone, Maryland, he says his first order of business will be revamping the Stratosphere’s restaurants.
“What the Stratosphere is now, and what it’s going to be a year from now is night and day,” Church teases.
First on his itinerary for that property is rewriting the menu for the resort’s revolving restaurant Top of the World with chefs Rick Giffen and Claude Gaty. He’s also planning a pair of new restaurants downstairs: a steakhouse in the area that’s now a Starbucks, and a pub to locate near a revamped sports book. Another priority for Church will be the culinary programs at the Arizona Charlie’s properties, which he says will be rebranded into “a new type of neighborhood casino.”
Church’s local resume includes stints at Andre’s, Alize, RM Seafood, Eiffel Tower Restaurant, AJ’s Steakhouse, MTO Café and Artisanal Café. There’s no word on who will take over at Aureole. The position was posted on the MGM Resorts International website on Thursday.