Speaking of Kerry Simon, we knew Chef Canteenwalla had made an appearance on Iron Chef -- his wife, Elizabeth Blau, has also judged the highly popular show -- so we asked him about his appearance. "When I did Iron Chef the first time, I assisted Kerry Simon. He's our partner, not in [Society Café Encore], but in Simon Kitchen and Bar, which at the time was at the Hard Rock and now is Simon at the Palms. It was a lot of fun. Our secret ingredient was ground beef. When you are cooking, it goes by extremely fast, that one hour. It's go-go-go. You see the item and go, 'OK, cameras are all over the place.' I've seen a guy slice the top of his finger off. I was putting beer into ground beef and I put my finger on top of the beer to control it, which was the wrong move [because beer went everywhere]. The cameras caught it and played it three times and repeated it twice, which was fine; they had a little fun with it!"
With so many travels and unique experiences under his belt, we wondered what attracted Chef Canteenwalla to Society Café Encore, where he is executive chef and partner! "I love the buzz of the place, and the power breakfast and power lunch scenario," he said. "Plus, people come in and just hang from the pool. There's enough of a vibe that you feel comfortable in shorts, or that you can come in and do business -- a breakfast or lunch. Dinner will take on a whole new element with the new bar, which will be finished shortly!"
Speaking of dinner, the first dish we sampled during our meal with Chef Canteenwalla was from the "Sticks, Picks & Finger Food" section of the menu: the Skewers. "Made of sugarcane shrimp, this is actually a Balinese dish, Satay Lilit, which really means seafood, but I only do shrimp," Chef Canteenwalla explained. "I only do minced shrimp with ginger, shallots, red curry paste, Kafir lime leaf, coconut, brown sugar and cilantro. The ingredients are all minced together and then we put it on the skewer, which is made out of sugarcane. We get a little sweetness out of that and we simply sear it."