Chef Scott Conant, opens his newest venue at a local’s favorite Casino and Resort in Las Vegas.


After shuttering Scarpetta and wine bar D.O.C.G at the Cosmopolitan last year, this was not good bye for Chef Scott Conant but a new hello to a more local friendly crowd just a few miles away from the neon lights of the Las Vegas Strip. Restaurateur, Food network Star and judge of “Chopped” is the first celebrity chef to bring his passionate work ethic and bold Italian cuisine away from the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas Strip. 


Station Casino’s 4 Diamond AAA rated destination hotel the Red Rock Casino and Resort eagerly anticipated the opening of Conant’s Masso Osteria meaning “boulder” in Italian thus honoring the remarkable surrounding red rock landscape. 

Conant’s honest Italian cooking and dedication to his craft have garnered him celebrity chef status and numerous industry accolades which now give resident Southern Nevadans and visitors a unique opportunity to experience a celebrity chef culinary excellence in a local setting.  


Trading the hustle and bustle of New York for the arid desert landscape, Scott has made his home in Scottsdale and plans on frequenting his newest restaurant endeavor on a regular basis. We had a few minutes to meet up with this affable and astute chef, whose warm and friendly demeanor immediately puts everyone at ease.

We wanted to know why you decided to go off the Strip with the Station Casino’s.

SC: First of all it has been 10 years since I have been spending time in  Las Vegas and I have garnered a lot of friendships and relationships and there are a lot of locals here that do a great job particularly hospitality wise. This is a local’s casino and I feel that you don’t get a lot of the local appreciation on the Strip because it is a lot of tourists. Yes, it is fun and happening but not everyone wants to deal with that. The attention here is in creating something the locals can appreciate.



We have major sport teams coming to Las Vegas, including the Raiders and now professional base baseball and NHL hockey practice facility right next to the Red Rock Resort where these developments an influence on you making the decision to open here?

SC: Let’s just say it did not hurt.

 There are many great Italian restaurants in Las Vegas. What is it about your brand that is going to stand out from the rest?

 SC: I feel like I made a good splash here after the years over year, with some good success. But like I said I felt like I didn’t have many locals coming to the restaurant (Scarpetta). I have good relationships with many of the locals and have been involved in charity work here whether it being Community in Schools, Keep Memory Alive or Opportunity Village. These things that I am involved in here locally have separated us from the other Italian restaurants. 


  How often will you be coming to Las Vegas?

SC: Very frequently since I am now in Scottsdale and it is only a 45 minute flight or a short drive.

What is your favorite meal to cook for your family?

SC: If my weight wasn’t an issue, I would cook pasta all the time. But when I have friends come over, I love doing Risotto, pasta or a nice Rib eye of beef that when you put it front of people there is a wow factor. I did Turkey for Thanksgiving which is fresh memory for me because I am not home very often, and it turned out beautifully and I got the most likes on Instagram.

In one word how would describe Masso.

SC: Yes, I can do that in one word. The word is convivial, which captures that sense of   happiness and sense of gregariousness, a general sense of enthusiasm that I want people to have inside this place whether it is enthusiasm for the food, the atmosphere, the vibe, or the service. There is a lot inside restaurant that ingratiates itself to the people who want to come here and spend time here that is the intention.

What is the number one thing you want to draw people into you doors with?

SC:  That’s interesting because I just had a conversation with my team. What I feel that the staff should exude to the guests who walk in the door is heart, simple as that. Understand the idea that here is another celebrity chef but I am not completely comfortable with that, but I am a restaurant guy who has been working in restaurants since I was 15 years old. This is a part of what I do and all the other stuff I do is to make this all work. The fact of the matter is I want people to know that this really heartfelt for me.  Happy cooks, cook happy food, and happy servers serve happy guests and that’s the way it should be.  Pardon the term but it is a trickledown effect.

 Your mantra is peace, love and pasta.

SC: Yes, that is what keeps me grounded. The sign in the restaurant was designed from my own handwriting.

It takes a village of people to make this all work. Are there any certain people you would like to acknowledge? 



SC: Yes, I have many core team members that make this all work for which I am thankful to, such as Dan Tackett my corporate chef who a super star. He is the guy in the background toiling away and doesn’t always get the credit, my Director of operation, Irene Chang and many others. They are all swimming in their own lane, but we are swimming to the same goal.

 What advice would you give an aspiring culinary student who may have stars in their eyes?

SC:  I once saw the Dali Lama speak and he said I never give unsolicited advice, that is not my role, but if you ask me I would be happy to tell you.  I would say what advice would I give my 20 year old self, such as don’t go out drinking all night and making a jack ass out of yourself. You can never get that time back; it nice to have fun but apply yourself. When you are younger you often think you know it all. I can only speak for myself, but I wish I had taken business classes to fill in my own blanks. If you can do that you are better off knowing business, understanding negotiating tactics and contracts and all that stuff that is very important to learn as far as the business side of things. Also, working very hard in learning how to articulate a thought well is also very important. Learn to talk about food, taste and your experience. I wish I would have know these earlier on, but I have self-educated myself so to speak to learn these things.

 What do you do to relax when not in the kitchen?

SC: I really work non-stop, all day every day. I work more now than I did as a young chef. I think my only down-time is on a plane going place to place. I am not complaining. I have been on both sides of this and this is where I would rather be as opposed to no one is calling. Self perseveration is the biggest thing.

 It must be a challenge to balance it all. Is there more of a trend to healthy living amongst Chefs?

SC: Yes, but it also easy to self medicate and having three or 4 glasses of wine at the end of the evening can become a vicious cycle that disrupts sleep patterns. The alcohol really needs to be cut out. At a certain age things need to become a bit healthier. You see so many Chefs going from self indulgence to a healthier lifestyle. Many have young children and want to be there for them.

 Aside from you knives what is one kitchen could you not live without.

 SC: A spoon, I have a spoon everywhere I go and a pair of tweezers. I can always get a knife from someone else. That way I feel prepared.  


Daou Vineyards in Paso Robles California strives to impart family tradition one sip at time.



On the warm dusty summer’s day in Paso Robles California, we entered the palatial Daou Vineyards tasting room where a historic bell hangs and as it sounds it seems to call to those to come and learn of a family that truly respects Mother Nature’s bounty. We were met by Katherine Daou-Versochi, brand manager and daughter of wine maker Daniel Daou.

 Daou wines are a family affair with Daniel Daou at the winemaking helm and brother Georges Daou as proprietor and operations manager. “When you are here we talk a lot of history and tradition; they are the two important pillars we stand on,” said Katherine. “We acquired the property in 2007 and have 212 total acres, 160 are producing wine at this time. We are always looking on was to innovate and improve our wine making aiming at creating more of a lifestyle around the wines,” continued Katherine. 

Gazing over the golden hills of undulating rows of twisted vines, we sipped on glasses of refreshing Daou Grenache Blanc as we settled in to learn more about the history, terroir and philosophy behind Daou Vineyards.

When speaking of great Cabernets most people’s minds immediately light up with the words Napa Valley but Paso Robles California located halfway between LA and San Francisco is gaining international attention as place of superb Bordeaux varietal distinction, especially in the world of Cabernet Sauvignon. 
The AVA has dramatic swings in climatic growing conditions due to the Santa Lucia Mountains buffering effect on Pacific Ocean maritime influence, creating a significant variation between evening and daytime temperatures. 
The warmer growing conditions along with the rocky, limestone or calcareous clay soils found prominently on the western side of Paso Robles provide the perfect planting and growing conditions for Bordeaux varietals. 

The most widely planted varietals in the region are Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel, Merlot and Chardonnay. Paso Robles is now home to over 250 wineries with many of which have national and international distinction. Daou Vineyards has taken the art and science of wine making within a family legacy while establishing wines of international excellence.

Located in western Paso Robles is Daou Mountain rising 2,200 feet in the Adelaida District. The clay soils, steep slopes and uniform exposure promote excellent growing conditions that rival Bordeaux’s Right Bank. Renowned winemaking authority Andre Tchelistcheff concluded that the terrior was  “a jewel of ecological elements”; alluding to its tremendous potential in producing world acclaimed wines. Owners and proprietors brothers Georges J. Daou and wine-maker Daniel Daou have combined their efforts in cultivation wines of legacy and lasting tradition within this epitome’s site. “This terroir is naturally inclined to produce wine of extraordinary staying power. We spare no amount of imagination or technology in harnessing that power to make wines of dimension and elegance,” affirmed winemaker Daniel.



 Proprietor Georges  Daou joined us for a few moments to reflect on the arduous, yet rewarding journey that he and his immediate family have united upon in creating wines of destiny. Fleeing from war-torn Lebanon in the early 70’s the family relocated to the south of France where the wine centric culture would later determine their future destinies. 

The Daou brothers went on to pursue their education at University of California San Diego while following the American dream by building profitable tech focused businesses in the United States. Through stalwart determination, dedication, and adherence to family honor, the brothers found great success from which they have parlayed their savvy business sensibility into fashioning a wine destiny and lineage beyond the transitory flight of immediate satisfaction.

“This is definitely an American dream, but I shy away from that word because a dream has an end, this is not an end,” said proprietor Georges Daou.

“I wrestle with what word this is, perhaps destiny. This has grown and continues growing more than we ever imagined. We were semi-retired and yet we wanted something to do that would bring us joy. We have always been entrepreneurs and have always worked for ourselves. We created this with happiness in mind; we wanted to create this to make really nice wines to share with others. At first we had 300 people show up now we have over 4000 a year without advertising except through social media. We are busy every day. I don’t compare myself with anyone. 

My brother is the wine maker, I am a life maker. I am interested in making your life better and I don’t care if someone is bigger or better. I am doing this for those around me, for my parents and those that were before them. I do this for them; their generation went through a lot. It is bigger than me and it will be here after I am gone. I don’t think people will remember me but what matters now is this moment. Our goal is to create a garden, a playground, a community where people will keep coming back. It’s a complex juggernaut. 
You have to go to the abyss of this industry but we know where we are going and we want others to go with us on our journey. We make the best wine and we place it where we think our customers live and then we watch. It is not easy, because every bottle is handmade and hand sorted. I can tell you we are very selective with the best grapes we can get; we select the wines and the barrels. The $25 bottle is made with the same passion and love as the $300 bottle,” imparted Georges. “What are you looking for? We have wines for every occasion.”

The Daou brothers have planted their soul on the soil in their production of these fine wines. The wines express the complexities of flavors, of black currents and bramble fruits, subtle minerality along with incredible structure. Jeb Dunnick of The Wine Advocate stated that the premier 2014 vintage was, “Easily the greatest Bordeaux blends I’ve tasted from Paso Robles.”  




Now with the addition of world renown Master Sommelier Frederick L. Dame as Daou’s Global Ambassador, these exceptional wines are moving forward into the global market. “I couldn’t think of a better final chapter of my career than the opportunity to work alongside the Daou brothers,” said Dame. “Their commitment to excellence sets them apart and it has been demonstrated vintage after vintage with purity and ascent of their wines-from Estate to Reserves. Daou’s ability to process the hand harvested grapes using their unique optical sorting technology, combined with their specific fermentation and aging process in custom French oak barrels combined with in-depth phenolic analysis lends to superior Cabernet Sauvignon in the glass, on the nose, and on the palate.”

Wine speaks for itself, it tells a story and that tale is never ending but always evolving. By honoring Daou Mountain for its hearty soils and precise atmospheric conditions, combined with astute business and scientific acumen, the Daou family is fashioning Cabernets that will endure with the test of time.

Las Vegas to Laguna Beach Ca.- only an hour away for a day of beachy reprieve.

Just an hour flight from Las Vegas is Laguna Beach Ca. A place of reprieve and ease, where the undulating ocean waters can lull you into a Zen like state and the cool ocean breezes can blow away the desert dust that has dried and dulled the senses. Let’s face it-sometimes you just have to get away from the hustle and harried heat of sin city.



 

 Now with JetSuiteX, the convenience of climbing aboard the Embarer-135 while by-passing security screening, long lines and overcrowded conditions makes that ocean side jaunt an effortless and joyful interlude at surprisingly affordable pricing. (Make sure you use the discount code on the website for further savings.) 


The 30 leather business class type seats and complimentary beverage and snack service make the short one hour flight seem ultra transitory. Upon Arriving at the private terminal in Santa Ana’s John Wayne Airport (SNA) a 30 minute Uber ride takes you to the a rare hotel that is literally on the beach, Pacific Edge Hotel

Although a bit pricy, the experience of overlooking the blue Pacific while the primal pounding of ocean waves is just below your window, is worth the extra expense. 

Just a short walk down the beach is Las Brisas restaurant Las Brisas. Serving up a mix of Baja freshness with its California cuisine since 1979, this popular coastline venue has been attracting international and local diners for decades. 

Reservations are suggested since the 360 ocean views are where many longingly lust for the prime ocean side seats. 
There is nothing better than a Las Brisas classic Margarita or hand crafted cocktail as the sun cascades into the golden rose colored Pacific waters. Recently new menu items have been added to keep the locals and visitors apprise of some revamped classics.


 Begin with Ahi Taco Duo where slices of fresh Ahi are intermingled with creamy avocado, sweet Asian pear and crunchy jicama while a dollop of sirarcha aioli brings a hit of heat. 


The Chicken Mole put the mmmmm in ole!  An epazpote marinated chicken blanketed with decadent mole negro and topped with classic pico de gallo is a savory and satisfying addition.

 For those seeking a vegan option, the new plus of the 3 Sisters Vegan Ragu is just for you. (The three sisters refer to the traditional Native American planting in close proximity of winter squash, corn and beans.) 

The ragu of roasted squash, corn, black beans, chick peas, quinoa accented with tangy lemon zest will satiate the most discriminating diner. For sea-food lovers the many fresh fish and crustaceans dishes are layered in authentic Mexican flavors and spices. 


Las Brisas has been serving the finest in fresh Californian coastal cuisine 7 days a week for decades in Laguna Beach, where ambience and appetite are met with the artistry of Mother Nature.

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