Posts Tagged ‘Wynn’

PPX – CHEF ALEX STRATTA

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

By Vincenza Di Maggio

Photo courtesy of Wynn Las Vegas

“We have an opportunity to do something really special here, and things that are special take time,” says Chef Alex Stratta as he casually raises his hot cup of coffee and motions towards his surroundings.

He’s sitting at a table inside of his latest culinary endeavor, his newly opened New York City restaurant, Bigoli — http://bigolirestaurant.com/. It’s only 2pm and the restaurant has not yet opened for dinner. It’s quiet… peaceful – well, except for the occasional sounds of clinking plates and running water emanating from the kitchen as the staff prepares for the dinner crowd. The chairs still sit on top of the wooden tables. Light floods into the dining room through the enormous skylight above, and the brick oven has just been turned on, the fire slowly warming up the room. The relaxing atmosphere suits him.

He’s right, things that are special do take time. And who would know it better than him? For over 30 years the renowned chef has worked and succeeded in developing an exciting career; the majority of which was spent working in the kitchens of Michelin two-star restaurants. Stratta’s name has become synonymous with “fine dining” and often evokes images of white tablecloths, elegantly folded napkins, mahogany coffered ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and tiny food portions. But with the opening of Bigoli, a casual neighborhood Italian restaurant located in Greenwich Village, he has decided to leave the luxurious dining experience behind. In fact, he’s stepping away from heat of the stove entirely and exploring a different aspect of the culinary industry – restaurant consulting. He says, “After 30 years of experience I’m doing something completely new which is what’s exciting about the restaurant business.”

It’s a business that’s in his blood. Stratta’s roots in the hospitality industry reach back to his great great grandfather who once owned a hotel in Piemonte, a Northern region of Italy bordering France and Switzerland. Generations later, across the Atlantic Ocean, Stratta’s father continued the family tradition by running a hotel company that required Stratta to make frequent trips from New York to Connecticut. As a fifth generation hotelier Stratta says, “I grew up surrounded by good food and good service. It became a part of who I was. I naturally gravitated towards the kitchen.”

Stratta started working his first kitchen job at the age of 15 at Manero’s Steakhouse in Greenwich, Connecticut. He slowly worked his way from dishwasher, to line cook, and 20 years later to executive chef at Mary Elaine’s restaurant at the Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Years later he was invited by Steve Wynn to the Wynn Las Vegas Resort where he worked as executive chef of his two namesake restaurants, Alex and Stratta. It was in the kitchen of these fine dining restaurants that he really established himself as one of Las Vegas’ most notable chefs.

Stratta, who has become somewhat of a celebrity, thinks back to the beginning of his career and recalls, “When I was a cook and becoming a chef it wasn’t such an admirable position as it is now. The biggest challenge for me is finding the balance between

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GAMBLING FOR DINING DOLLARS

Monday, February 14th, 2011

The state of casino dining rooms
By Sharon Harris-Zlotnick

Photo courtesy of Isle of Capri Casinos Inc.

Remember those lavish restaurant meals that lasted for hours? In the early days of gaming, casino customers expected multiple gourmet options in every location. Many still do, but these days, diverse activities, relaxed dress codes and varied food tastes demand a different approach if you want to capture their dining dollars. Casino operators have reacted by transforming many fine dining options to more informal sites, where increased customer traffic volume generates greater profits and reduces overhead.

David Rittvo, Director, food & beverage division of The Innovation Group consulting firm, reports the shift began several years ago. Earlier research from Ypartnership, a dining, hospitality and entertainment consultant firm, reveals that 60 percent of “gamers” chose moderately-priced restaurants as the most important food and beverage attributes; 45 percent preferred buffets; 33 percent desired one-of-a-kind specialty restaurants, and a third chose brand name eateries.

“Although I doubt a rebound to prior levels, a smaller version of gourmet dining rooms will always be available. Operators must accommodate rated players and players’ club guests,” says Rittvo.

Isle of Capri Senior Vice President of Operations Arnold Block agrees, confirming a change within the dining scenario throughout his 15 properties in six southern and Midwest states. The Isle surveyed its customers, also discovering most wanted a more casual menu.

Block says, “Our weeknight gourmet room counts averaged 12 dinners. The large portions and $70 average check scared off many customers, so

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VODKA COCKTAILS AT THE READY

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

 42BELOW Presents the Cocktail World Cup National Finals

Sunday night 3/7 is going to be one of those evenings that, where no matter what city you live in, you might as well stay home and drink wine because your favorite bartender is going to be in NYC, competing at the 42Below Vodka Cocktail World Cup National Finals. www.42below.com

We’re not naming names (okay, we will eventually), but we are willing to say that if you’re invited to the Ace Hotel (www.acehotel.com) on Sunday night you might have a Lynn House, Thomas Waugh, Todd Thrasher, Philip Green, Paul Sevigny, Jason Brown, Matthew Coughlin, Sean Hoard (and more) sighting.

Who knows which ones the august panel of judges (Dale DeGroffwww.kingcocktail.com, Charles Ohlbaum www.bartendersacademyny.com , and Sam Talbot) will choose?  Time will tell. 

But here’s who’s in the running:

Matthew Biancaniello of Library Bar at The Roosevelt Hotel (www.hollywoodroosevelt.com) with the “Indian Summer” Cocktail

Jason Bran from The Roger Room with the “Down Under Dessert” Cocktail

Jason Brown of Sensing (www.sensingrestaurant.com) with the “Mr.Robinson”

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