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Home > DINING WITH CHEFS > Las Vegas Dining with Chefs > Wazuzu (Part 1 of 3)

Wazuzu

Executive Chef Jet Tila

    
    Salmon Tar Tar

When Encore opened in Las Vegas, TravelsinTaste.com just had to see the crystal dragon everyone was talking about -- and try some of the exquisite pan-Asian food that all the dragon-lovers were raving about. So, we invited Chef Jet Tila of Wazuzu to join us for a meal so that we could learn more about him, his restaurant and his truly unique journey to Las Vegas.

   
     
    
Crunch Roll

When Chef Tila graciously agreed, our first question was: How did you get here? "I have a really cool story -- a very different one than a lot of the chefs that come to Wynn or Encore," Chef Tila answered. "I come from a family that literally started the Thai food phenomenon in America. In 1966 my parents came over from Thailand, though they met here. In 1972 my dad opened this hole in the wall called Bangkok Market in Los Angeles. It was a 600-square-foot mini-market -- the first Thai market in the country. In 1975 he opened an import company, so we were the first guys to bring in coconut milk, shrimp paste and curry paste. I was born in 1975. In 1979 we opened Royal Thai Cuisine. We were one the first guys to do Thai barbeque and we argue about who was the first Thai restaurant. So one restaurant became four over 20 years and one Bangkok market became three all over California. I grew up in the grocery game; it was a Mom-and-Pop operation. I was the kid who stocked the shelves, and then I moved into produce, which involved cutting, cleaning and tagging of all these Asian goods."

"In 1980-something, my dad opened Bangkok Produce, so we were also the first one who grilled Chinese broccoli in Mexico, brought the little Thai bananas over and the liche. my father in 20 years brought the whole Asian game to Latin America. So, I grew up cutting meat, worked as a server all the way from bussing to dishwasher to cooking. I grew up in restaurants; I got to see all sides of the Thai food game."

   
     
      
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