Culinary Schools in Las Vegas
For such an epic entertainment destination, Las Vegas's culinary prowess is surprisingly new. For decades all-night diners and "chuck wagon" buffets catered to guests in search of cheap convenience, rather than refined cuisine. That was before Spago, the venture that triggered a full-scale culinary revolution. Epicurious food critic Heidi Knapp Rinella wrote that when world renown chef Wolfgang Puck decided to open a high-end restaurant in the land of all-you-can-eat buffets in the early 1990s, chefs and restaurateurs questioned his sanity. It was a gamble befitting Sin City, but one that certainly paid off. Spago succeeded, as did Puck's next four area restaurants. It was the dawn of a new era for Las Vegas cuisine.
As word of Las Vegas's culinary potential seeped out, Michelin-starred chefs like Guy Savoy, Alain Ducasse, Joel Robuchon and Gordon Ramsay rushed in. Las Vegas is officially a go-to place for culinary professionals hoping to make their mark. Its success helped make Nevada the nation's fastest growing culinary job market, but competition for jobs in top restaurants can be fierce. Students attending culinary schools in Las Vegas are in a position to learn from some of the best in the business
Famous Las Vegas restaurants
Las Vegas's top-rated restaurant scene is a magnet for rising culinary professionals in search of mentorship and experience. The following Las Vegas restaurants are mainstays on "Best of" lists by Zagat, Epicurious and other major culinary publications.
- Spago: Spago in Caesar's Palace, founded by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, was the catalyst for Las Vegas's refined dining revolution. Executive Chef Eric Klein's seasonal menu features classic American cuisine with global influences.
- Lotus of Siam: What started as a hole in the wall in a Las Vegas strip mall is now one of the city's best known and loved restaurants, thanks to the hard work of James Beard Award-winning chef Saipin Chutima and her husband. Lotus serves Northern Thai cuisine using family recipes more than a century in the making.
- Restaurant Guy Savoy: Restaurant Guy Savoy is another award-winning Caesar's Palace venu, this time from the Parisian three-Michelin-star chef Guy Savoy. Managed by Savoy's son, Franck, the restaurant serves a number of Savoy classics, like oysters in ice gelee and crisp sweetbreads.
- Joël Robuchon Restaurant: This upscale eatery in the MGM grand was launched by Joël Robuchon who, according to Epicurus, was dubbed Chef of the Century in his native France. Guests can dine on multi-course tasting menus featuring such delicacies as black truffles and caviar.
- Sen of Japan: Sen of Japan was founded by the ever popular chef Hiro Nakano of NOBU fame. It also happens to have been named America's Top Japanese Restaurant by Zagat in 2010. Sen of Japan's menu features top-quality sushi, Kobe beef and other top-quality ingredients
- Raku: Raku owner-chef Mitsuo Endo learned the art of traditional Japanese cuisine at prestigious restaurants in his native Tokyo before setting his sights on the U.S. market. He has since been nominated for multiple James Beard Awards. Raku, Endo's flagship, is widely regarded as one of the nation's top-rated Japanese restaurants.
These restaurants have won the hearts of foodies and critics from all over the globe, but represent only a sliver of what Sin City has to offer. Las Vegas is stocked with eateries of all cuisines and prestige, not to mention demand for professionals to run them.
Las Vegas culinary schools & career outlook
To say Nevada's culinary job market is hot would be an understatement. The National Restaurant Association reports that the Silver State was home to the fastest growing restaurant industry in the nation in 2013, and not for the first time. In 2015, restaurants accounted for nearly 200,000 Nevada jobs, or about 16 percent of the state's total employment.
Though these figures are statewide, Las Vegas's restaurant surge means many of these new culinary jobs will emerge in Sin City kitchens. The following table highlights state and metro-wide salary and employment projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Nevada Workforce.
|Occupation||Total Employment in Las Vegas (2013)||Average Salary in Las Vegas (2013)||% Job Growth in Las Vegas (2012-2022)|
|Chefs and Head Cooks||2,820||$52,250||10.7%|
|Food Service Managers||2,060||$66,860||7.0%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014, and Nevada Workforce
Demand for Las Vegas culinary professionals is growing, but competition for positions in top-rated restaurants can be tight. Training and experience can help. Culinary schools in Las Vegas offer formal education in a number of culinary specialties, not just cooking. The following programs are common.
- Culinary arts
- Baking and pastry arts
- Restaurant and hospitality management
- Wine arts
- Catering management
Culinary programs, courses and degrees can vary significantly from one school to the next, so it is important for future students to research their options. Have a look at the baking and pastry schools and the culinary schools Las Vegas has to offer to start moving your career forward.
- "Top Restaurants in Las Vegas," Epicurious, Heidi Knapp Rinella, http://www.epicurious.com/archive/diningtravel/restaurants/lasvegas
- "Nevada, Texas and D.C. led job growth in 2013," News & Research, National REstaurant Association, April 23, 2014, http://www.restaurant.org/News-Research/News/Economist-s-Notebook-Nevada-Texas-and-D-C-led-res
- "10 Top Classic Las Vegas Restaurants: Vintage Guide for Hungry Visitors," Forbes, September 8, 2014, Larry Olmsted
- "Nevada Restaurant Industry at a Glance," National Restaurant Association, 2015, http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/State-Statistics/2015/NV_Restaurants2015
- "May 2014 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Las Vegas-Paradise, NV," Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 25, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_29820.htm
- "Las Vegas MSA: 2012-2022 Long-Term Occupational Projections," Research & Analysis Bureau, Nevada Workforce, http://www.nevadaworkforce.com/?PAGEID=67&SUBID=197
- "Las Vegas' Best Restaurants," Zagat, September 9, 2013, https://www.zagat.com/l/top-food-in-las-vegas