The best dining recommendations come from the professionals.
Bone-in strip steak at SW Steakhouse.
The brotherhood of the toque is one of mutual respect, which often leads to adoration of a colleague’s craft—and some great insider eating tips.
Chef Chen Wei Chan of Encore’s Wazuzu likes to steal away in the afternoons for a pizza bianca, a Neapolitan-inspired mélange of fresh, low-moisture Grande mozzarella, salty crisped prosciutto, peppery arugula gently tossed in a lemon vinaigrette, a smattering of shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a final drizzle of great olive oil. The chef? Enzo Febbraro of Wynn’s Allegro. “Chef Enzo’s wood-fired pizza oven is heated to 525 degrees Fahrenheit on the bottom and 440 to 480 degrees on the top,” says Chan. “This is how the perfect pizza is created. It’s a little crunchy and a little doughy—it’s heaven!”
The admiration goes both ways. Febbraro says he can’t get enough of Chan’s intense, complex tonkotsu ramen, that tangle of noodles in broth that, in the right hands, can be a bowlful of the sublime. “I crave it often,” laughs Febbraro. “If I could eat it every day, I would!” What makes Chan’s version stand out? “To me, it’s the heart of the chef,” Febbraro says. “The ramen has quality pork butt and pork ribs, chicken stock, [and] is cooked for 24 hours with scallions, daikon, and cabbage.” The result: an almost creamy broth accented by the tender bits of meat and honshimiji mushrooms.
To receive high praise from a fellow chef for a steak, you need on-the-money technique and the kind of beef that makes old-school butchers sigh. Which is what chef Jeremy Pacheco of Society Café at Encore does when he digs into chef David Walzog’s dry-aged bone-in strip at SW Steakhouse. “Chef takes a no-fuss approach,” says Pacheco. “The steaks are prime bone-in and dry-aged, which make it super rich, tender, and flavorful. He then adds salt, pepper, and a little olive oil and does a great sear on it in the broiler. The Kobe tallow butter on the side takes it over the top.” Walzog matches his colleague’s turf fever with an equal dose of admiration for one of Pacheco’s surf sensations: Society Café’s 500-degree sizzling ahi tuna. “I love the delicate flavors and texture of the tuna when seared on the Himalayan salt block,” he says. “It creates a fantastic contrast of temperatures and texture and really brings out the tuna’s clean oceanic flavors.” Coming from the Executive Chef at Lakeside, that’s advice you can trust.