Las Vegas native heads The Works kitchen at Gameworks

Tony Leitera is corporate executive chef for The Works Kitchen at GameWorks, whose seven nationwide locations include one in Town Square. Leitera is that rarity, a native of Las Vegas, and is based here. After GameWorks decided to create The Works Kitchen to develop a brand identity in food and beverage, he went to all of the markets involved to see what people there were eating and what they wanted.

“The mission is really to surprise people with over-the-top, chef-forward food that they wouldn’t expect,” he said, “and to give them something new in family entertainment-center options they haven’t seen before.” An example is hand-stretched, handmade pizza dough fresh daily in each location, “that companies like us aren’t doing. Dry-rubbed wings, over-the-top milkshakes.”

The average customer, he said, is a family with young children.

“What we want to do is make it more of a destination for everybody,” he said, “whether they’re coming in just for dinner or playing games or what.”

Leitera has been executive chef and general manager at Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen + Bar, executive sous chef at Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, executive chef/partner at Capital Grille in Indianapolis and opening chef at Cafe Deco at The Venetian Macau, and he has worked at Wolfgang Puck restaurants.

With three small children at home he’s extremely busy with family and often takes his kids to parks. He and his wife are involved with The Cupcake Girls, a local nonprofit that provides support and resources for women in the sex industry.

Review-Journal: Always in your fridge?

Leitera: Fruits, vegetables and Eggo waffles. We have a 2-, 4- and 6-year-old at home and they eat Eggos every day. And every sauce and spice I can get my hands on. That’s where I do the majority of my creative thinking.

Currently obsessed with?

For the past two years, beef jerky, and jerkying anything I can possibly find — bottom round, short ribs, fruits, vegetables, trying new spice and flavor combinations.

Newest Las Vegas discovery?

We found a great little sushi place near Boulder Highway and Tropicana Avenue called Sushi Twister. We do Uber Eats runs regularly.

Favorite indulgence?

Belgian-style ales. Tenaya Creek makes one called The Dutch that’s as good as it gets.

I never eat …

If it won’t make me sick, I’ll eat it. But if it’s something I’m making for myself, I stay away from pickles and mustard.

Favorite brunch at home?

We like to make pancakes and put things in them that shouldn’t be in them, like leftover ramen noodles or leftover pizza, candy bars, bacon — whatever we have in the fridge. The kids really enjoy it, and actually the pizza one turned out really good.

Best tip for home cooks?

Take something that you like and work at perfecting it. There’s so much literature and books and the internet to give you an idea of what it is. And then try it. You’ll never know how to do it unless you’ve failed at it a couple of times and moved forward.

What are you working on at The Works Kitchen?

What we’re really working on is perfecting our style of pizza. There’s dozens of different styles. What we’re going for is that artisanal style — crispy and chewy dough. We’re getting close to what I think is that perfect pizza — new ingredients, things that people wouldn’t expect to see on it, like brisket and jambalaya shrimp, and whatever else that can go with it.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian Macau.

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

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