There are five Michelin three-star restaurants in America, and Joël Robuchon at the MGM Grand is one of them. And for what it's worth, the adjacent L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon is one of our personal faves, definitely in the top five. Like the majority of marquee chefs in Vegas, Robuchon himself swings through about every other month to check on things, but unlike many others, he doesn't arrive with a phalanx of flacks in tow and actually spends more time in the kitchen than posing for photographs (few exceptions, see right). Last week was one such week. Eater VegasWire operative John Curtas had a chance to chat with the chef to get his thoughts on cooking and eating in the era of the foodblogger. As one can imagine, it takes a lot to impress the man.
John Curtas: What is your opinion of food/restaurant bloggers and the impact they have on the dining-out public?
Joël Robuchon: They can be helpful and they can be dangerous. Dangerous because anyone can write anything, even if they have no training or experience and don't make any sense. Genuine gastronomic critics bring a lot of experience to the table and you must respect that, but too often the internet can be used as a revenge tool by people who have something against the chef or the restaurant. But the public doesn't know when a review is being used as a way to ambush a restaurant. Too many restaurant critics these days are like me when I'm criticizing a soccer coach; I might have my opinion, but I don't know that much.
JC: How would you advise someone to get a proper gourmet education in this era of very expensive restaurants (like yours) and various cooking/restaurant styles?
Robochon: You must go out a lot. Try different concepts. Form a fine dining club. Try to get a true understanding of what is good and bad cooking. Follow a gastronomic critic whose tastes you understand and learn from them. Unfortunately, people don't take the time these days to become a true gourmand.
JC: What advice would you give a young chef (or a customer) about what to strive for in good cooking and good eating?
Robuchon: Young people/children have an inherent honesty and respect for what is good in food. But as they get older, from 18 to 25 years old, they tend to over think things...which is the most dangerous thing you can do as a chef. Young chefs try too hard to impress and constantly want their food to be exciting, but that doesn't mean it's any good. Too often they get lost in the method and end up overcomplicating things. Doing a simple thing well and perfectly is what great cooking is all about.
JC: Name a restaurant that I've never heard of that I absolutely must go to?
Robuchon: Restaurante Nou Manolin in Alicante, Spain, in Valencia. A tapas/small plates/seafood restaurant with amazing Mediterranean seafood and langoustines....