The white rounds that decorate the outer walls of Jean Georges Steakhouse represent bone rounds.
Masa Takayama may well be the most famous sushi chef in the United States. He has impressed diners on both coasts with his four-star menus, unassuming charm and artistic dexterity. Now he brings his renowned charisma and cuisine to Las Vegas, joining the impressive restaurant line-up at ARIA Resort & Casino with barMASA and Tetsu.
After graduating from high school, he moved to Tokyo and was hired by a reputable sushi restaurant, Ginza Sushi-ko, as a dishwasher. Intrigued by the genuine joy he perceived in diners, he began to develop an equally genuine interest in the restaurant and its culinary craft. Before long, he moved his way up to sushi chef.
Eight years later, Takayama visited Los Angeles, intent on seeing expanses of flat land entirely antithetical to Japan’s island mountains. He worked at a number of small Japanese restaurants before opening his own Ginza Sushi-ko in Beverly Hills in 1983. Small and intimate – and located in an unglamorous mini-mall – Ginza Sushi-ko quickly attracted a cult-like following and a rare four-star review from The Los Angeles Times. Takayama became famous for sourcing the very best ingredients available and, in the early years, would fly to the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo himself each Saturday.
Soon after the turn of the millennium, Takayama received an offer to open a restaurant in New York City’s newly built Time Warner Center. Encouraged by Thomas Keller, along with a strong economy and the excitement of an even bigger food city, Takayama opened Masa in 2004. The restaurant soon won four stars from The New York Times (the only Japanese restaurant to do so in 20 years) with respected food critic Frank Bruni declaring, “Masa engineers discrete moments of pure elation that few if any other restaurants can match.” A Mobil five-star rating and Michelin’s top rating of three stars soon followed.
Now, five years later, Takayama returns west to join the culinary explosion taking place in the unprecedented ARIA in Las Vegas. barMASA and Tetsu, sister properties to his New York establishments, have enabled him to return to his loyal West Coast clientele, as well as express the shabu-shabu concept he has been developing for some time
Born and raised on the outskirts of Strasbourg in Alsace, France, Jean-Georges earliest family memories are about food. He trained in a work-study program at the Auberge de I’Ill and as an apprentice to chef Paul Haeberlin, later working with Paul Bocuse and Master Chef Louis Outhier at L’Oasis in the south of France.
Jean-Georges traveled Asia for positions in the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, the Meridien Hotel in Singapore and the Mandarin Hotel in Hong Kong.
Involved in every aspect of his restaurants, from concept and menu to architectural design, staff selection and finishing touches, he and partner Phil Suarez have worked together for more than 18 years to create restaurants that are both timely and enduring.
Jean-Philippe Maury enjoys the sweet life in Las Vegas, as his expertise and passion for French pastries have found their ultimate expression through his two Jean Philippe Pâtisseries, one located in Bellagio and the second in ARIA.
Maury grew up in Perpignan in the South of France and declares a simple inspiration for his attraction to the pastry arts: his aunt. “No one in my family is a sous chef or a professional, but my aunt loved to make cakes and she would let me help,” Maury said. “At eight years old I told my parents I wanted to be a pastry chef. And, they believed me!” At age 17, he enrolled at L’Ecole Hôtelière du Moulin à Vent in Perpignan where he trained in the specialties of pastry, ice cream, chocolate and confections.
Weekends were spent in an internship with Master Pastry Chef Marc Comte, which allowed Maury to add Mediterranean and Catalan pastries to his repertoire. For several years after school, Maury worked tirelessly at various restaurants to fine-tune his craft and enrich his experience. But it was the competition circuit that finally allowed Maury’s indisputable talent to claim a place on the public stage: Bronze Medals in Paris and Sète, a Gold in Bordeaux and in 1997 the title Meilleur Ouvrier de France – Best Pastry Chef in France.
This top honor brought instant international recognition. Within the year, Chef François Paillard brought Maury to New York as pastry chef for his restaurant and shop, and the new champion’s elaborate creations were published in Pastry Art and Design and The New York Times. Less than a year later, Maury accepted the position of executive pastry chef for the AAA Five Diamond Bellagio in Las Vegas and later opened Jean Philippe Patisserie in ARIA Resort and Casino.
Award-winning Chef Julian Serrano turns a discerning eye to the cuisine of his Spanish heritage as Executive Chef of his eponymous restaurant, Julian Serrano.
A native of Madrid, Serrano is a graduate of the Escuela Gastronomie P.P.O. hotel management school in Marbella, Spain, and has pursued his affinity for French cuisine in some of Europe's most celebrated kitchens. He has spent time at Lucas-Carton in Paris, Hotel de France in Auch, France, Chez Max in Zurich and L'Aubergine in Munich.
Following brief positions in Miami and Nashville, Serrano moved to San Francisco, where in 1983 he helped open Masa’s restaurant under the personal tutelage of the restaurant's renowned founding chef, Masataka Kobayashi.
In 1998, Serrano brought his memorable Mediterranean-French cooking to Bellagio in Las Vegas as Executive Chef of Picasso. The Michelin two-star restaurant has won the AAA Five Diamond Award every year since 2002, and its wine list has received the coveted Grand Award from Wine Spectator magazine.
At his latest venue in the dazzling ARIA, Serrano satisfies a long-held ambition of sharing the secrets of his own Spanish cuisine. In 2010, Esquire magazine named the restaurant Julian Serrano one of its Best New Restaurants of the year. The restaurant also received the Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine in 2011.
San Diego, CA
Shawn McClain has a knack for balancing innovative concepts with tradition and sensibility. His spirited Artisanal American menu takes the seasons as its departure point, tapping the freshness of California’s fertile environment to produce elevated flavor combinations with Mediterranean undercurrents.
McClain’s star rose quickly in the culinary world. He first broke onto the national scene at Trio restaurant in Evanston, earning four stars from both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. After seven accolade-filled years, he left to open Spring in 2001, which served as his homage to seafood and earned extraordinary critical acclaim and consumer success. That same year, Spring was nominated for the James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant award, and McClain was named Esquire magazine’s Chef of the Year.
By 2004, McClain was ready to take on a new challenge and opened his second restaurant, Green Zebra. An immediate success, this vanguard concept brings vegetables to the center of the plate and was lauded by The New York Times, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine and several other prestigious publications.
After continuing his success in Chicago with Custom House, McClain eventually found his way to the bright lights of Las Vegas. At Sage in ARIA Resort & Casino, McClain changed focus once more with a New American menu built on the irresistible freshness of California’s local harvests. After having achieved so many of his goals in Chicago, McClain was drawn to both the challenge of a new city and the allure of ARIA as a culinary destination. His sharp eye for distinctive concepts forms the cornerstone of his ongoing ability to excite diners nationwide.
A New Jersey native, Anthony Amoroso Jr. earned his degree in culinary arts studies from Hudson County Community College in Jersey City. His first position was as sous chef was at the AAA Five Diamond Hilton Short Hills in New Jersey in 1999.
A year later, Amoroso set off for New York City, taking over as chef de cuisine of Oceana Restaurant, operating alongside renowned chef Rick Moonen. Together, Amoroso and Moonen maintained Oceana’s Three-Star rating, awarded by the New York Times. They then collaborated on opening Branzini Restaurant in 2002 and RM in 2003.
Amoroso came to Las Vegas in 2003 to accept the position of executive chef at Fiamma Trattoria & Bar at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. Two years later, Amoroso became the executive chef at MICHAEL MINA Bellagio. The celebrity chef collaborated with Amoroso on all menu development and entrusted him to oversee all operations and staff at his eponymous Las Vegas restaurant. During his time at MICHAEL MINA Bellagio, the restaurant earned one Michelin star and Amoroso was named “Rising Star Las Vegas” by StarChefs.com in 2009. Pleased with Amoroso’s contributions, Mina asked him to return to New Jersey in 2009 as executive chef at his Seablue restaurant at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.
One of Amoroso’s greatest accomplishments came in 2010, when he defeated Iron Chef winner Masaharu Morimoto on the Iron Chef America television competition. Amoroso’s talents were immediately noticed, and in 2011 he became the corporate executive chef for BR Guest Hospitality in New York, where he worked with their restaurants on both American coasts. Amoroso helped open, establish and oversee a variety of BR Guest restaurants, including Sammy D’s at Harrah’s Atlantic City Resort and Casino and Atlantic Grill Steak and Seafood at Caesars Atlantic City Hotel and Casino.
After two successful years, Amoroso returned to Las Vegas to become the executive chef at ARIA Resort & Casino – a AAA Five Diamond Resort on the Las Vegas Strip. Here, Amoroso uses his experience, culinary techniques and commitment to high quality cuisine to maintain the property’s impressive portfolio of more than 20 food and beverage outlets, many of which feature award-winning and celebrity chefs.
With more than four years at ARIA Resort & Casino, Kim Wood’s dedication to the beverage industry, commitment to perfection and creative talent led him to his current role as Director of Wine. Wood was born in Dayton, Texas and raised in Fort Worth. He graduated from John Hopkins University with a degree in biomedical engineering and finance. He then moved to Dallas, where he worked as a server and bartender. Wood admits that he fell in love with the restaurant industry, but had no idea what he wanted to do. Luckily, a friend referred him to a wine director at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse. Working closely with Drew Hendricks, Master Sommelier and current Director of Wine and Beverage Education at Pappas Restaurants, Inc., Wood was immediately fascinated with wine. At the time, Rob Bigelow, Master Sommelier and former Director of Food & Beverage at ARIA, was putting together ARIA’s team. Wood’s name was mentioned multiple times and he made the decision to join the team in 2009, with the opportunity to open Jean Georges Steakhouse as the Sommelier, working with more than 720 wines and champagnes. Wood’s favorite pairing is Tuna Tartare with Domaine Weinbach’s Rieslings.
Craig Schoettler began his culinary journey at full speed and hasn’t slowed down since, using his experience with fine cuisine to launch a successful career in the beverage industry. In 2007, Schoettler earned his bachelor’s degree in science, culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University, graduating magna cum laude. During his time in school, Schoettler gained experience as an intern at Tru restaurant in Chicago, where he managed the garde manger station and worked his way up to chef de partie.
Following graduation, Schoettler made the move to Alinea, a 3-star Michelin restaurant, first as an intern and later as chef de partie. Schoettler was quickly promoted to chef de tournant, where he assisted chefs in all kitchen stations. In 2009, while at Alinea, Schoettler created a series of edible cocktails. This spawned a new, simultaneous venture in 2010 as executive chef at The Aviary, a highly acclaimed cocktail lounge and restaurant.
Schoettler developed a beverage-focused kitchen for The Aviary, plus its basement speakeasy – The Office – where he conceived and created two award-winning beverage programs featuring progressive cocktails and unprecedented techniques. Schoettler’s innovative styles quickly gained him recognition from local and national publications.
After taking a brief hiatus from the food and beverage industry to travel, Schoettler decided to try bartending. He accepted a position at Drumbar in Chicago, and less than a week after his first shift, Schoettler was asked to take over the beverage program. From there, Schoettler became the corporate beverage director for Drumbar’s parent company, Menin Hotels, in 2012.
Schoettler mainly oversaw the Raffaelo Hotel and transformed the property bar, Drumbar, into a sophisticated speakeasy concept, carrying an extensive, worldly whiskey collection. In addition, Schoettler created luxury mini-bars for guests, helping to reinvent in-room dining at the hotel. He also redefined the beverage program at Menin’s Radio Bar in Miami. With such great success during his year with Menin Hotels, Schoettler eagerly accepted an offer from the luxurious AAA Five Diamond ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
As ARIA’s first property mixologist, Schoettler breaks through the boundaries of modern mixology, working to constantly develop new ideas and achieve the highest quality of service and guest experience.
Schoettler’s dedication to his craft and astounding creativity has led him to win several awards, including “Beverage Professional of the Year” from the Chicago Tribune and “National Bartender of the Year” from Eater National. His groundbreaking concepts were also recognized through titles his bars have received, such as Best New Bar from Time-Out Chicago, Ten Best Whiskey Bars in America 2013 from GQ Magazine and Outstanding Bar Program from the James Beard Foundation.