Up Front and Personal
So often we talk about the passion of a renowned chef or the craft of a great bartender, the sage knowledge of a true mixologist or the expertise of a fine Sommelier; but it’s the passion of the professional fine dining server that often goes unmentioned, in part because they are few and far between but also because they have yet to make a reality show about them or even an interesting documentary. Yes, we have Waiting and the ubiquitous service industry blogs like “Why Servers Hate You.” But these funny, yet mostly cringe-worthy examples are mainly relatable to the poor unfortunate souls who get verbally spit upon serving blooming onions at Outback or baby backs at Applebee’s. What I find missing within the world of “the service industry” are the stories of a waiter’s true love of maintaining spectacular service, the continuous pursuit of food and wine knowledge and the unique ability to give us restaurant lovers the perfect dining experience. May I introduce a man who embodies much of this vision for the ultimate foodie experience, Mr. Bryan John, one of CarneVino’s best!
Tell me what Vegas means to you and where did you start?
Vegas is home. I was born and raised here and I’ve eaten the better half of this city! Some places surprise me and some bore me, but it’s definitely an exciting town.
I actually started in the kitchen and graduated from culinary school right out of high school. I began at Rosemary’s and M Resort and Stack at The Mirage and it wasn’t until I traded sides and started working at CarneVino that I got re-inspired to start cooking again.
What are some of your favorite places around town?
I eat in Chinatown probably three days a week! I like District One, Monta, Raku or Krung Siam. I love the spice and variety of Asian cuisine. I also love the old-time non pretentious classics like Bob Taylor’s Ranch House and good ole American eat’n! I love hosting dinner parties and shellfish boils at my place with co-workers. I’m looking forward to doing a Dario Cecchini Night and using everything I learned in Italy to style out my friends.
Tell me about your recent Italy trip.
Well, I met Dario Cecchini at CarneVino through our Executive Chef, Nicole Brisson, who trained under him in Italy. He was incredibly inspiring. He came in and did a dinner event where I saw him break down a pig and do his famous porqueta and was immediately fascinated. I’ve always been interested in the art of charcuterie, so I asked if I could come out to Tuscany and work for him. I was there for six weeks working 14 hour days. In the morning I would train doing butchery, and then work at the restaurant at night doing service. The service there is completely different from Vegas. It’s all family style with seven course meals and wine pairing.
Out of everything you learned in Italy, what was the most profound?
I leaned everything about butchery including making lardo, which was my main goal, but the most spontaneous and impromptu and exciting thing I experienced was harvesting honey. They had five boxes in a meadow and three in a forest and we’d suit up and check the bees’ health and maintain the hives. It was such a beautiful connection with the earth. Bees are the most important thing when it comes to food and sometimes we forget about that. It was absolutely wonderful!
What did you miss about the US?
Breakfast! Over there they eat cornetto, which is like a croissant, but I missed eggs and bacon and crispy hash browns. I also missed the ethnic variety of food that we take for granted. Also, the towns shut down at 10 o’clock so if you don’t bring a snack you are bummed. Late night binge eating doesn’t really exist there!
So what do you love about the service industry?
I love making people happy, especially when they are uneasy about trying new foods or experiences. I like to nudge them into trying something great and get them to buy into your “method” or mindset and then they are hooked! At CarneVino it’s great to get people to try things like octopus because it’s so fantastic there that when they do eat it their eyes light up and they say “Wow! I didn’t know food could taste this good!” For example, during the rodeo I made a deal with some dubious cowboys that if they didn’t like it, I’d pay for it. Of course they loved it so much they paid me!
I hear you may be interested in opening a butcher shop of your own?
I do have a lot to learn and so many skills I’d like to acquire from the greats, but that’s definitely the end goal. I’d love to have a great butcher shop/sandwich shop/little restaurant and to cater to the public and show them that you don’t just have to have the filet or the “great cuts” that everyone is used to. That you eat so much better than that utilizing the shank and the shoulder and the breast and the hind quarters. Dario has a philosophy that you must let the animal have a good life and treat it like an animal should be and in turn give it a compassionate death and utilize the entire animal, which gives it back the respect that it gave to you. We really need to fix our way of thinking through food.