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Home > DINING WITH CHEFS > Las Vegas Dining with Chefs > Botero (Part 1 of 2)


Executive Chef Mark LoRusso

Although we previously interviewed Chef Mark LoRusso when he was executive chef at Tableau, we were delighted when we had the opportunity to catch up with him at his new position at Encore, where he is executive chef at Botero. Because we knew the basics already (you can read our previous interview with him here), we started our conversation asking not about the beginning of his career, but rather about the beginning of his journey from Wynn to its new sister resort, Encore.

“What happened was at first I talked to Victor [Drai] about doing a restaurant next to his club, XS,” Chef LoRusso explained. “Originally, although lunch and breakfast were busy for the most part at Tableau, dinner was hit or miss. Andrew Pascal, the president of the hotel, knew I was a little frustrated. I love Tableau, but we weren’t too busy at dinner. So, they asked me if I was interested in doing a restaurant with Victor. They set us up and we had met a couple of times, but I really didn’t know him well. I asked Victor what he was thinking of in terms of the restaurant and he said he wanted to do a Mediterranean restaurant with really good food. Nothing crazy. Just really good food with a little twist. I was like, ‘Wow, deep down that’s what I really want to do. Really good food with really good ingredients.’ For the most part, I’m simple. I’m not the kind of guy who does fusion and has it blow up a table. I like good food -- seasonal food -- which hopefully has a little bit of a twist to it. So I said, ‘Wow, this is what I really want to do.’ We talked more, then Andrew and I talked, and then I talked to Mr. Wynn about his vision for the restaurant. I got really excited about it. You know, I love Tableau, but it’s tough. The location. Sometimes people stay in the Tower Suites and then have breakfast or lunch, then go somewhere else for dinner, and I would do the same thing.”

Kobe Steak Tartare

We had to agree, because during our many trips to Wynn we had done the same thing multiple times. This night, however, there would be no dining elsewhere, as we were truly looking forward to our meal with Chef LoRusso -- this time at Botero instead of Tableau -- which began with the Kobe Tartare. “We wanted to do a steak tartare, so we use Kobe top round that we just chop really fine for texture,” Chef LoRusso told us. “It just eats better that way. The classic garnishes are capers, shallots, a little bit of mustard and egg on top. We went a little old school and decided to put it all together. The croutons and then the little fries are kind of like beef and fries. That’s how it came about.”

We wondered: Is there any special secret to this dish? The purveyor, perhaps? “We get the Kobe itself from Snake River Farms,” Chef LoRusso said, “but I think the key is that I cut it up really fine, as it tastes better in the mouth that way.”

Next we had the Ahi Tuna Tartare. “The tuna tartare is something I did at Tableau,” Chef LoRusso said. “It is one of Mr Wynn’s favorites. One day I did a tasting and he said, ‘You’re going to bring over that tartare, right?’ I wanted to bring it over anyway because it did so well.”

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