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Executive Chef Jet Tila

    Dining with Chefs: Executive Chef Jet Tila
Wazuzu (Part 2 of 3)

Speaking of staff, his hires have really set the tone for Wazuzu as a fun fine-dining alternative, according to Chef Tila. "I hired Andrea [Ung] – from the Terrace Point Café at Wynn -- as manager," he told us. "I knew from the minute I met her that she was my GM. She's great. She's not too serious, not too casual. I feel a lot of us are what a lot of people call third wavers -- not fresh off the boat, but kids of parents who have been here over 20 to 30 years. We still have that connection with where we came from, in terms of food, yet we’ve eaten a lot of fine dining and we've gone to school in Europe. It's important for me to hire a lot of third wavers. For this restaurant, it's ideal. It's Asian food, but it's plated and fun. The flavors are clean, but yet again they're not fine dining. It’s a place you take a date and get a couple of cocktails."

Chef Tila's journey from Los Angeles to Las Vegas was long and storied. Now that he's there, however, we asked him if his hobbies have changed. "I've been working for the past five months, seven days a week -- 16 hour days -- which is the business," he said. "It’s the life. I only started taking days off about four weeks ago. I sleep, and I try to find markets and other restaurants to eat at. I was an avid fisherman for a long time and worked on fishing boats in South Bay for a long time as a teenager. I might have to switch to freshwater now. I'm also an outdoorsman so I'm trying to hook up with some people to go hiking. I haven’t really gotten to that point yet, though. I'm just starting to feel like it's getting done here."

Speaking of fish, we wondered: With so much fresh fish and so many interesting ingredients on his menu, does Chef Tila have any favorite purveyors? "My fish purveyors are in the top three," Chef Tila told us. "These are the ones I used in L.A.: Mutual Trading, DeSoto Brothers, IMP. I have everyone I had in L.A. Nothing’s changed. For the Asian stuff, I've found everything I want. It's been painless. The pre-opening of Encore was unlike any pre-opening I've ever done. All the chefs, the GMs and everyone was in same office for three months. It was a fantastic experience. The Encore family is very tight; we do a daily conference call, we stay in touch, we eat in each other's restaurants, we hang out outside. Every chef team helped every other chef team open the boxes from the dishes to unpacking the kitchen."

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