Chef’s signed door tells lots of stories

When famous people eat at Nove restaurant at the Palms, they leave autographs on the chef’s door in the kitchen. So who have been the nicest (and most disappointing) celebs to chef Geno Bernardo?

His favorite was the gorgeous Eva Mendes, the only one who made him star-struck.

“I couldn’t even get the words out. I was, ‘Bluh bluh bluh bluh,’ ” Bernardo says. “She was really friendly. She knew food, too. I was blown away.”

Other nice stars: ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons (“foodie”), George Strait (“great”) and Howard Stern (“cool”), plus Paul Oakenfold, Roger Clemens, Kevin McHale, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield.

They all signed the chef’s door, but anti-drug star Jenny McCarthy added this sentence: “I didn’t do drugs just so I could taste your amazing food!”

“There’s only one athlete who didn’t want to sign this door – A-Rod,” he says.

What’s worse about the Alex Rodriguez story is Bernardo (who was raised in New York by his nana, 103) assigned his top waiter (a Boston Red Sox fan) to serve free food to the Yankee and invite him to the kitchen.

“He (A-Rod) said, ‘No, I don’t want to smell like the kitchen,’ ” Bernardo says. “I was really hurt because I’m a Yankee fan, you know what I mean?”

Bernardo let me see the door Sunday during his Labor Wines & Local Swine special there, featuring local wine by Corey Nyman and organic food from the chef’s farm, Grow Small Gardens in Pahrump. (He also gets some fruits and vegetables from Heidi Fleiss, for real.)

The chef plans to auction off his star-signed door in mid-2013, with a possible starting bid of $5,000, to raise money for the children’s cancer charity St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

“I shave my head every year. I might as well give away my door,” he says.

If you’re reading this online, you can listen to the whole interview by clicking the “play” button to the right of this column.


Jon Taffer, star of Spike’s “Bar Rescue,” tells me he relocated from Florida to Las Vegas this fall – and he plans to open a “few venues here in town.”

He doesn’t want to divulge possible locations yet for Jon Taffer’s World’s Best Bar because deals haven’t been inked. But he hopes it will be open by summer 2013.

On TV, Taffer helps restaurants become cleaner and more efficient. In Vegas, Taffer is president of Nightclub & Bar Media Group, which stages the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show in Vegas on March 19-21.

He also produces N&B’s entertainment and alcohol convention, On The Rocks Las Vegas, July 12-14 at dayclubs and venues around the Strip.

On Thursday, Taffer will hold a seminar for bar and restaurant people who are ready to pay $300-$350 to get wisdom from him and others at a “Rescue Tour” seminar at Treasure Island (


“Halo 4” came out at midnight. I played the online multiplayer all weekend. Look for my four-star review soon.

There’s a “Halo 4” release party and tournament tonight at Insert Coins game lounge downtown. Sign up is at 9 p.m. for the 10 p.m. tournament.

And Saturday night, The Cosmopolitan’s EA Sports Lounge hosts a “FIFA 13” final tournament ($25,000 to the winner), featuring Maxim models. For more, check out


“Hangover” stars Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms saw stand-up Natasha Leggero’s Sunday show at the Riviera and hung with her backstage.

Doug Elfman’s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Email him at He blogs at

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