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Executive Chef Jason Arbusto

    Jason Arbusto
Executive Chef miX

TravelsinTaste.com recently had dinner with Jason Arbusto, executive chef of Alain Ducasse's miX at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, who has an amazing story: Although he couldn't speak French, and had no working papers, Chef Arbusto landed a job working for the legendary Alain Ducasse in France just three months out of culinary school. After eight years abroad, however, he moved to Las Vegas and settled at Ducasse's miX. Because he's worked in the kitchen of a legendary culinary genius, we wanted to ask Chef Arbusto about the most unusual items in his kitchen. We also wanted to know where someone who's spent so much time in France -- a gastronome's paradise -- goes on his time off to grab a bite in Sin City. So, we asked him!

TravelsinTaste.com: Is there a secret sauce in your kitchen? An item that just makes everything click?

Arbusto: That CVap oven I was telling you about [during our meal] is pretty unusual. It's not one of these high-tech things, but not a lot of people use it. It's kind of new. It was actually invented for Kentucky Fried Chicken! It is made to keep things crispy, but warm at a constant temperature. It was invented for them to be able to keep fried and moist things at the same time, which is really hard to do, if you think about it. If you fry something it either becomes soggy, crispy or dried out, so they made this machine for that purpose. It's really specific to that, and we have one. I think there's only one other place in Vegas that has it.

TravelsinTaste.com: We're assuming you don't frequent Kentucky Fried Chicken in your time off. So, where do you eat when you're not in your kitchen?

Arbusto: My wife is French and she's a really good cook, so I eat at home a lot. I grew up in a family that really ate at home a lot. We do like a couple of little spots in Chinatown; there's a pho place Hue Thai’s Sandwich that has Vietnamese sandwiches. It's a family place. It's pretty large with big tables where a lot of people sit together. They have really great Vietnamese sandwiches; you can make your own pho and you can put extra beef tendon in there, or extra fish balls -- whatever you want. It's really a family place, with big screen TVs. The other day there were South African and Australian women playing the violin to James Bond theme songs on the televisions. They were scantily clad in leather, playing in front of an orchestra. It was kind of weird. They've got really good soups and sandwiches and French baguettes, though!

TravelsinTaste.com: Any other places?

Arbusto: There's Raku. It used to be the chef's place to go; it still is, but everyone kind of knows about it now. He makes his own tofu and his own soy sauce, and there's sappora on tap. It's cheap and open until four in the morning, which is great if you're a cook or in foodservice. He has unusual items that you wouldn't see anywhere else, like char-grilled pig's ear and stuffed corn. He takes the center part out and stuffs it with potato, and puts it on a skewer. He's got a Japanese charcoal grill, which is this little grill with a long piece of charcoal that burns for hours. It's really hot and it gives off this distinct flavor; if you've had foie gras, but you've never had Japanese charcoal-grilled foie gras: It's got that charred smoky taste to it. He's also got Udon, as well as Udashi broth and this really, really soft daikon, which is my favorite.

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