He giggled like a prankster when he said it but not like a bully but more like your grandfather would giggle when he took his hand off your face and tried to convince you that he had your nose in his big hands.
For a person who loves food this is the crescendo, the top of the mountain. This celebrated chef trying out his spring menu on me and he watches and listens to my reactions. As course after course came out at Joel Robuchon at MGM Grand Las Vegas I could have been convinced to test out anything. If this is what it feels like to be a lab rat you can sign me up.
It seems like an annual ritual. Each year, he serves me a big meal, I eat the best dinner of my life, then we fall in love the next day with each other's passion for food. Each year, the chef has some new focus. Last year, it was tomatoes. This year, it's chlorophyll.
“You passed on the virus” Chef Robuchon comments when we catch up on my children and their love of food? “You should bring them into the restaurant the next time you are here.”
The conversation, much like the meal is casual and comfortable. The experience at Joel Robuchon Restaurant at MGM Grand, a shrine to fine dining, is really an extension of the personality of this great chef. Where you might expect a high degree of formal behavior and customer service you get warm greetings and casual conversation. The meal soon becomes like an evening out with friends at someone’s very nice home.
While the chef discussed the magic of his new spring menu all I could think of was popcorn in the veloute of corn. I wondered if I crossed the line when I mentioned that I wanted to hug him after I had L’CEuf de Poule, a semi soft boiled egg on a spinach puree with comte cheese sauce. My French failed me and my words, I’m sure, were lost in translation. He smiled. He laughed like everyone does in this restaurant. How could I possibly say anything wrong, this is my experience.
Each of my conversations with Chef Joel Robuchon have centered on the quality of the experiences at his restaurants, “To be a good chef you must like the people you are cooking for. You must want to make them happy. You must cook for them as if you were cooking for the love of your life.” His staff is schooled on this mantra and in every aspect of the meal you sense that everyone has the same passion.
Had I practiced my French I would have told him that Le Soja, risotto of soybeans sprouts with chives and pistachios, was perfect for sitting in front of the television while watching hockey. I'm not sure it would have translated so well. The uni had me craving the ocean and the morels were like a wave back to cool weather with the scallop lifting the haze and brightening the sky with the air of the new season.
The meal was a large helping of perfection and I asked the chef about his own perfect meal, “The ideal meal does not exist. The moment exists. The exact moment. The setting and the person you share it with, that makes a meal.”
An evening at Joel Robuchon is like the spring, it's alive with anticipation and the promise of new and exciting things. This might sound contrived but the truth is that the meal becomes exactly what you want it to be. Joel Robuchon and its little sister that is just as good looking, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon at MGM Grand, have perfected the perfect meal. The moment. The occasion. The experience.
Joel Robuchon Restaurant
MGM Grand Las Vegas
Hours of Operation:Friday & Saturday: 5:30pm - 10:30pm Sunday - Thursday: 5:30pm - 10:00pm
Reservations: (702) 891 - 7925 or you can also reserve a table online