Las Vegas. A virtual planet that never sleeps. With an intensely raw and rather brief history, this decadent mammoth oasis, created originally as a gamblers’ mecca, peppered with booze and dancing girls, is now a globally renowned dining and entertainment destination on the grandest scale.
To say the service-driven underbelly of the mega-lit 4-mile strip is “not for sissies”, would be an understatement. The sheer magnitude of the 24/7 menu and venue selections of one of Las Vegas’ “hotel universe” would have many chefs, running for cover in the pantry.
Veteran, Executive Chef Olivier Dubreuil, who heads up the kitchen empire of The Venetian/Palazzo, on the other hand, ran straight for the action back in 1996, and thrived in the proverbial heat, taking on the challenge of working in and over-seeing such kitchens.
Day in the life
“The Venetian/Palazzo is a little bit different than the other hotels on the street. We run all of the conventions, servicing, dining areas, up to 2.2 million square feet. So that is a big chunk of the business, big revenue. We serve between 25,000 to 75,000 meals a day. Big volume.
And then there are the hotel rooms. We are 7,200 rooms right now. Also, staff meals include approximately 9,000 employees, 6,000 meals. Then we have private clubs, etc.
This is why we love The Chefs’ Warehouse. And this is why The Chefs’ Warehouse loves us.”
How can one man be responsible for so much?
(Laughter) “It’s not one man who is responsible for so much. It’s a team that makes things happen. I may be there to guide them or draw the line but it’s also a group of talented chefs and managers that put their brain cells together to make things happen. Yes, I am the top but it’s a group of people. It’s a machine we have to manage.”
“One of the main reasons I came to Vegas was that I could not get a grip on how Las Vegas could possibly work. I kept hearing about gigantic buffets, 3,000 rooms and banquets for 4,000 covers. I thought, ‘I have no idea how those people do it.’ So I said to my girlfriend at the time ‘Let’s go to Vegas for a couple years,’ because I was really curious. But I have been here 23 years. I never left. I love it.”
The Adrenaline of Challenge
“Because my background was more in gastronomic high-end restaurants, I was always intrigued by the organization of things. I thought with my European background, that working at the level of magnitude in Las Vegas would be a good thing for me to learn and have on my resume. I am a little bit O.C.D in a way. I like the challenge of organization. So it was a perfect fit for me. The key force here is to be organized and on time.”
Clean and Conscious
“Ideally we are pushing more for sustainable, more organic, more green, more clean vegetables. We strive for as little waste as possible. Everything is calculated down to a science. We try exceptionally hard to alleviate as much waste as possible. We recycle much of our leftover food through a range of food charities.”
The Vegas Evolution
“Vegas changed 100% from the day I came in 1996. It was really the beginning of everything. I remember arriving in Vegas at the time, nothing was built. It was empty. The Paris, Wynn, The Venetian none of this was here. This change was inevitable. Now food and beverage are one of the top three divisions. Gaming is up and down because there is gaming available in many other places in the world now.
Now people come for the exceptional shows and restaurants, to eat at celebrity chef restaurants, to shop. The Venetian/Palazzo, for instance, is an all-integrated resort. So we have everything under one roof. Ideally, when people come to us they can get everything they are looking for right here.”
“To always find the new thing in terms of concepts and ideas. To always challenge myself and my staff to find what the next new cool thing will be. It’s a challenge, but it’s not a challenge. It’s the fun part about our work.”
Advice for young rising chefs
“Work hard. Get ready to work hard. Be ready to move around. Be ready to volunteer to do different things. And maybe stop watching the Food Network, maybe a little less of the Instagram and Twitter, keep your brain cells and hands for the kitchen.’
“Our relationship, long-term relationship, with The Chefs’ Warehouse is a big part of what I do. It goes both ways. As much as I need to be creative, I need my relationship with The Chefs’ Warehouse to be able to fuel me with ingredients and product ideas. I can call CW and say ‘Hey let’s work on this’ or ‘can we do some vendor showcase?’ So, that relationship for me is super important. CW has a very low turn over in the Vegas market. The sales team we work with has been there a long time; they know who we are, how we work. They know our needs. I know I can call them anytime, not just 9 to 5, and they will always be there to help and support, for any emergency, we may have. That’s great! CW is also very opened-minded which is also very important to me.”
“If I was to say yes, I’d have a problem. I don’t know what will be next. I could be here another two months or another ten years. I need to be able to come to work in the morning and I need to be able to go home at night. I am always open to new challenges.”