Top chefs and top-of-the-line restaurants have made Las Vegas one of, if not the top dining destinations in the world. As good as these temples of gastronomy are, they disguise a quieter revolution occurring in our neighborhoods. I'm referring to the influx of chefs, sous chefs, cooks, pastry chefs and wine people who are pulled into town from the great food capitals of the world to serve as pilot fish to the great whales and sharks of the casino industry. They come seeking fame and fortune in the most happenin' and open-minded restaurant town in the world. Fortunately, chefs are a peripatetic lot, kind of like musicians with good taste, and the talented ones usually can't wait to open their own place. . .and when this happens in our town, our taste and neighborhoods become enriched.

I've touted the three leaders of this pleasant revolt from some time, and more are on the way. So toques off to Herman Hockmeyer at Panini; Enrique Tinoco of Tinoco's Bistro; Gabriel Gregoriescu of the Green Lips Café; and Michael and Wendy Jordan at Rosemary's for making life in Nevada a little nicer.

And as long as we're praising chefs, we should also define them. There are four notable positions in the classic restaurant kitchen. The Executive Chef is the general overseeing the entire operation. Arnaud Briand at the Desert Inn is one of the best who doesn't get the publicity he and his restaurants deserve. The Chef de Cuisine is the commander Ryker to the Executive Chef's Jean-Luc. We all know that Ryker does all the work, and Piccard does all the worrying, and that's pretty much how it works in a restaurant. Sous Chefs are the non-coms (that's a sargent for those under fifty) who have some but not ultimate responsibility and finally Line Cooks are just that. Hapless cannon fodder always sent to confront the indefensible death ray (or apply fire to raw ingredients without ruining them) for six to eight hours a day in 300 degree heat. While they're getting vaporized, the officers organize the chaos and think of something clever to save everyone's job and ass week after week.

Support comes from

Now who said you couldn't learn something from television.

This is John Curtas.

More from
KNPR and NPR Thank-You Gifts including t-shirts hoodies and cap