Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 | 2 a.m.
Gordon Ramsay is too famous to do anything quietly, but he gave it a shot by soft-opening his fifth restaurant in Las Vegas on Jan. 6, an 8,000-square-foot, 300-seat monster themed around his wildly popular reality cooking show “Hell’s Kitchen,” located Strip-side in front of Caesars Palace in the space formerly occupied by transplanted New York tourist favorite Serendipity 3.
But before Ramsay could even open the doors of the Hell’s Kitchen restaurant — where visitors are greeted by a life-sized video version of the superstar chef, complete with bleeped-out words just like on TV — his team had already logged reservations for nearly 12,000 diners stretching beyond March. “We haven’t even started yet, so I think eerie is the word,” Ramsay says. “We’ve got to get it right here. We’re up against it.”
The Ramsay-Caesars connection may have its work cut out in meeting expectations for the new venue, but it also looks like a sure-fire winner. The sprawling, bistro-like space looks and feels just like the TV show, including red and blue teams of chefs working hard in the open kitchen to craft signature dishes like Beef Wellington, perfectly seared scallops, lobster risotto and brick-pressed chicken with sweet potato hash. The opening team is executive chef Jennifer Murphy, who has cooked at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant, Michael Mina and Prime at Bellagio and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon; and Ramsay’s Vegas boss and executive chef of his United States restaurant operations Christina Wilson. The winner of the current season of “Hell’s Kitchen” will be awarded the job of head chef.
“The cooks here are not competing for competition but for the standard. I think this is going to be harder,” Ramsay says. “We can’t have excuses for rubber scallops; there can’t be undercooked risotto. I’m not saying we’ve put our neck in a noose but we’ve made it tough on ourselves because we have to get this right. It’s not TV now, this is the real deal. But having Christina and Jen here, they are in a different league.”
The Ramsay restaurant machine has been a dominant force on the Las Vegas Strip since he made his debut with Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas in 2012. That was followed with Gordon Ramsay Burger at Planet Hollywood, Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars Palace and last year’s Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips at the Linq Promenade. He has as many Strip restaurants as any celebrity chef, and it’s by design. Ramsay loves Vegas.
“It’s a second home, and I’d love to be permanently based here for tax reasons as well,” he says with a laugh. “We are still building here, setting up a new office, and I’m trying to convince my wife to come move here. I love it here. I did my first Ironman [triathlon] here six years ago at Lake Mead and it was amazing, just incredible. And when you see something like what happened last year with that awful shooting, you fall in love with Las Vegas even more because of what the community did to rally.” He says he’ll be participating in a special-event dinner to benefit local first responders in February.
Ramsay planned the new restaurant to be more than a restaurant — he’s hoping to move some of his TV work from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to shoot here, including, hopefully, the grand finale of the current “Hell’s Kitchen” season. “If there’s one city in the world that lends itself to live entertainment, it’s Vegas,” he says. “When you see what’s happening here with the football and hockey teams and T-Mobile Arena and the Convention Center and the race track [Speedway] and the soccer team as well, it’s an amazing time to be in Vegas.”