The Beast, located in immersive Entertainment Complex Area15, off the strip in L.V. is a techno-vibrant food hall created by four-time James Beard Award-winner Todd English, and boasts a high-end ‘wizard behind its culinary curtain’ in Executive Chef Sani Hebaj.
Accustomed to serving his beautiful creations on Bernadotte china at his previous Executive Chef gig at The Plaza Hotel in NYC, Chef Hebaj, a New York native, shared how his classical training benefits his current culinary adventure. ‘We’re using the same techniques at The Beast as I’ve used before, but our plating here is very whimsical, wild, and eccentric. The dark room here, the aesthetics, the visuals, the music, the lights….we have so much going on and want the food to be as fun as the unique environment. Todd’s always thinking of wacky things to do and constantly has new ideas. He’s texted me about six times this morning already. We try to add a little bit of craziness to the menu wherever we can. We like to call it Mad Max meets Burning Man.’
Sani, who comes from a multi-generation culinary family (including his two sisters and brother-in-law) studied at Culinary Arts & Sciences at California Academy. Having moved to Las Vegas from NYC for the unique Executive Chef position at The Beast, Chef Sani cheekily shared one of his favorite aspects of the geographical change up, ‘I’ve lived here for about nine months now and I have to say one of the best parts about being in Vegas is the commute. It’s wonderful. Getting to work is super easy!’
The Beast team, comprised of 130 employees, with 34 of them in the kitchen, has to fire on all cylinders to successfully deliver the expansive, ‘something for everybody’ menu. ‘It
always shocks people when they try the food here because they’re not expecting this level of quality inside of Area15. They’re like ‘Oh my God, I’ve been to all the top places in Las Vegas, and this has the best food and service.’ And I’m just like, ‘Wow, that’s a great compliment to get’ offered Hebaj.
The Beast’s food hall, Chef Hebaj shared, is more like a restaurant with high-level food hall offerings. It has a bespoke ‘Beast’ for everybody, including ‘Belly of the Beast Pizza’ with topping options like Peking Duck or Smoked Mushroom with Camembert. There’s ‘The Beast Breath Smoke House’ featuring skewers of Wagyu Beef, Black Dry Rub Brisket, Smoked Short Rib Churrasco, as well as off-the-chain ‘Beast Burgers’ like The Amsterdam Burger with house pastrami, gruyere, and kraut. For cravings from the Far East, there’s ‘Wok Wok’ with stellar umami dishes like Singapore Street Noodles and Pineapple Fried Rice. For those needing their pasta fancies satisfied, ‘Pasta Beast’ offers authentic staples like Truffle Cacio e Pepe over Pappardelle with Toasted Garlic. Black Bean Burgers with mango ketchup and deluxe Impossible Burgers delight the plant-based folks at ‘Veggie Beast.’ You can also get your fiesta on with a Beef Birria Queso Taco with Consommé (among others) at ‘Space Taco.’ The Beast’s Korean Corn Dogs are said to be life-changing. Of course, the bar menu is a world of its own. And for those with a sweet tooth, Old Fashioned Hand Dipped Donuts lead the colorful dessert parade.
Chef Hebaj commented on the beastly stimuli of his new venue. ‘Being from NYC I love all the noise and lights here. I like it much more than a quiet atmosphere. I’m that type of personality where I always need noise. I actually fall asleep with loud music in my headphones at night. Growing up in Brooklyn, our family home was on a path with all the emergency vehicles, so the ambulances would constantly just drive outside of my window all night back when there was no air conditioning. So I actually find all the stimuli kind of calming.
Having opened at the peak of the pandemic in February 2021 and doing 1000 covers a day at only 25% capacity(!), The Beast team are no strangers to thriving under pressure. As with most venues, Chef Hebaj relayed his current challenges in ingredients supply and kindly commented on his gratitude towards his hardworking CW Sales Manager Jessica Gordon. ‘Jessica has been amazing. She’s brought in all these exciting ingredients like Black Garlic Shoyu which I’m really excited to use. She really goes the extra mile in terms of her support and understanding of our needs. She even stocked up burgers in her freezer to make sure I wouldn’t run out because we were selling over 1000 a week. Now that’s service.’
As we all know in this industry the right ingredients at the right time are everything. It is clear Chef Sani Hebaj is exactly the right ‘ingredient’ and collaborator for The Beast at Area15. When asked if he planned to move back to NYC, Chef Hebaj responded enthusiastically, ‘Who knows? I’m on an adventure! I’m starting to think about living and working in China.’ After mastering a power-packed venue like ‘The Beast,’ clearly the sky’s the limit.