In recent years, new Las Vegas properties have opened up with names attached to them —names of celebrity chefs.
The presence of celebrity chefs at new properties is so pervasive in Vegas, it’s rare for a resort to open without a restaurant being tied to one.
“In Las Vegas today, dining is a huge part of a resort,” said Brock Radke, food editor for Greenspun Media Group in Henderson, Nev. “I think it’s necessary for resorts to have a big name celebrity chef tied to them. The Bellagio started that trend when they opened. It had a whole parade of famous chefs and up-and-coming chefs under one roof. Since then, that’s been the standard.”
Accelerating the trend is that as the percentage of people who visit Las Vegas specifically for gambling has dropped, resorts are investing more money in other forms of entertainment. One of these investments is in restaurants backed by or paired with a celebrity chef.
When it opened in late 2010, The Cosmopolitan debuted restaurants featuring chefs José Andrés and Scott Conant. In early June of this year, Giada De Laurentiis opened her first restaurant in The Cromwell.
Las Vegas is also home to the very first Nobu Hotel, of which the namesake Chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa is a partner. When the 181-room hotel opened at Caesars Palace in 2013, part of the pomp and circumstance included the opening of the world’s largest Nobu restaurant, at 12,775 square feet.
When it opens on August 23, SLS Las Vegas will join the trend with Bazaar Meat by José Andrés. On the resort’s website, the emphasis isn’t on the food but on the man behind the restaurant: “A groundbreaking culinary experience, Bazaar Meat by José Andrés is the James Beard award-winning chef’s wild and wonderful celebration of the carnivorous, in all its forms,” reads the first line of the restaurant’s description.
“In the old days of Vegas, food and beverage was a loss leader and wasn’t considered very important, but [now] it’s one of the most important amenities in any casino, and people can’t get enough of famous chefs,” Radke said. “I don’t think this trend will end any time soon.”