Chef Josh Smith Executive Chef at Michael Mina’s Bardot in The Aria Resort
A Rising Star Worth a Visit
It is not often we meet a young chef that is a true rising star with a passion for cuisine as Chef Josh Smith. He has accomplished much in his 36 years and from what we have experienced on the plate of Bardot he has a huge career in front of him. Recently we spoke with Chef Josh about his experience, his plans and the man himself.
What new trends do you see in the industry that you like and think will stay for a while?
I think basic cuisine is making a comeback. Italian, Rustic French cuisine. I like the term “dirty French.” This type of cuisine is comfortable, you don’t have to reinvent it or be afraid of it. When you read a menu it should sound delicious. I like the return of sauces. We use 2-3 oz portions served with everything here.
What trends do you see going away?
Everything has its place. At 36 I think I have been around enough to see things come full circle. Large garnishes has pretty much gone away. Foams, molecular gastronomy are going away too but some people do it well. I am not a fan of micro-greens as a garnish. If you are going to use them, use them so that they have some benefit to the dish. A lot of times chefs don’t want to take the extra time and would rather buy a clam shell. At the end of the day it’s about feeding people and making them happy.
What new projects are you working on?
It takes a mature team to do this right. We are constantly working to do what we do better. We have dishes that stay on the menu all year because our guests return for them year after year. They may see subtle differences because we are always looking for new purveyors and fine tuning our recipes.
When you are at home what type of dishes do you like to cook?
I am always trying to eat healthy. Opening a restaurant is probably the unhealthiest thing you can do to your body. I cook in a crock pot all the time and make food for a week. I made a spicy lamb stew with coconut milk, sweet potatoes, fresh cilantro and lime. I cook for my grandma every week. She is 93 and we meal prep for her so that she eats well.
If you could have dinner with anyone past or present who would be at your table?
Cooking the dinner would be Chef Jean-Louis Palladin. His cuisine is sorely missed in Las Vegas and the world. It would be a group of family, chefs and musicians. Duane & Gregg Allman would be there. Chefs Mike and Wendy Jordan from Rosemary’s. They got me off on the right start. I owe everything to them and wonder if I would still be a chef today without them. They inspired me to keep going. My grandpa, and Chef Andre as well.
What advice would you give to an inspiring chef in culinary school or someone who is thinking about becoming a chef?
I can only come from my perspective. I never went to culinary school. I have been mentoring chefs for quite some time. I was lucky enough that Chefs Mike and Wendy Jordan took me under their wing. Volunteer any way you can to get your hands dirty. Read as much as you can. When I was starting out I went to the bookstore and flipped through the books and put them back on the shelf. I would take notes and pictures the whole time. I did cooking demos at Wild Oats for 9-15 housewives. It was there I learned to talk about what I was doing as I was doing it. It was a very difficult task. I made myself nervous by putting myself in uncomfortable positions to make myself better. Taste as much as possible. It must be your passion. For me cooking is my life, hobby and profession. I have a happy life doing what I love.
Everyone has a guilty pleasure. What is yours?
Candy, sweet and sour…I can’t resist them. Mother’s Cookies. They are little sandwich cookies my mom used to mail to me. Street tacos late at night and there is something to be said about the almighty greasy cheeseburger.
What can’t you do without in and out of the kitchen?
In our kitchen everyone has a ruler for knife work sizes and consistency. Gram scales is our life blood. Everything is weighed. Tweezers help keep a gentle hand. A Thermos Works fast read thermometer. It can read temps in 4 seconds. This is very important in a bust kitchen. Out of the kitchen, my puppy! He is a 6-month-old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. He is my everything. I spend all my money at Petsmart; he has everything you can think of. Also my 1992 Sportster motorcycle. I spend a lot of money on that too. My family. I have family all over the valley. Every weekend I see all of them.