Monday, May 11, 2009
Theater at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon
May 7, evening: After the chef's photo op, Goldberg and I are tired and hungry. I am parched, however there is bubbly refreshment, sumptuous repast and cheerful friends at my "culinary home away from home", L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon.
A quick history: I began my discovery of this culinary mecca when L'Atelier and Joel Robuchon at the Mansion @ MGM Grand opened in 2005. I established my culinary friendship with Chef Joel, yes the real one, Chef of the Century Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas. I loved his simple refined flavors, and artistic plate presentations; his sensibility. He respected my French culinary education, strict training, artistic style and 30+ year career dedication (aka work ethic). It wasn't insincere like most chef-to-customer requested table visit. Oh no, we spoke the same food language, cooked by the rules, integrity, creativity, perfection and most important, culinary PASSION! I found my mentor, my professeur, my friend Joel Robuchon!
L'Atelier/MGM Grand, 7pm: We are greeted by general manager and dear friend, Emmanuel Cornet. The champagne (Bruno Paillard) flows. Off topic: Mr. Robuchon has never forgotten when I drove to Las Vegas from Los Angeles same day just to have dinner with him (3 hours L.A. to Vegas + I received a speeding ticket). He always remembers that story and reminds me to "slow down".
Anyway, Chef Steve Benjamin creates something special for us to nibble on (while I decompress). Chef Joel arrives on the scene to oversee and greet customers. Like long-lost culinary soul mates we connect like there has been no gap in between visits. With his limited English and my rusty French we always understand each other, and it's joyous! I'm home at L'Atelier and craving comfort cuisine after the contrived photo shoot. The Hanger Steak with Chef's famous Pommes Puree is deliciously perfect to calm me down. Vin rouge, please.
We are then greeted by Mr. Robuchon's cadre of celebrated chefs: Eric Bouchenoire, Claude Le Tohic, Tomonori Danzaki, Yuichiro Watanabe and pastry chefs, Kamel Guechida + Francois Benot. They are dedicated, intense chefs, yet confident gentlemen; no drama-queen attitude allowed in Robuchon's kitchen! They stop their jobs to say hello and visit. How wonderful, and impressive. These are my friends. Chefs enjoy serving an educated colleague and respectful alumna. It's a family at Chez Robuchon and I feel so proud to be part of it! How lucky am I. Goldberg says, "you deserve it, you earned it".
GM Emmanuel tells us that we're guests of Chef Joel tonight for "Theatre in the Kitchen" from 11:30pm-1:30am with a special performance from MGM Grand's KA by Cirque du Soleil. Imaginative appetizers and drinks are in order so don't fill up on dessert. After Illy brand pressed coffee, several handmade Robuchon chocolates, and a little slot machine ding-ding-ding, we arrive back at L'Atelier for another culinary adventure and a show! Everyone attending received a personalized copy of Mr. Robuchon's new cookbook. One of the best events, absolutely marvelous! Merci Chef et Cie.