Chef Aaron Thomas wakes up in the middle of the night to jot down his latest culinary creations. I’ll let Chef Aaron explain. “Most of the time I have to sleep with a notepad next to the bed. I’ll wake up at two or three in the morning and I’ll write the dish down … it’s happened so many times where I would forget my notepad and pen and I’d have to walk downstairs to the kitchen at three o’clock in the morning.” Now that is dedication! And it’s exactly what Therapy Restaurant, located at 518 Fremont in Downtown Las Vegas, is offering with their star chef Aaron Thomas. “I started off as a chef in France, as a pastry chef,” said Aaron. “[I] lived in Nice, in the South of France, lived in Paris, then Florence in Tuscany, then London and in California, and now Las Vegas. It’s a completely different world obviously, being in America compared to back home (Wales); there’s a whole different world of produce and product and that kind of thing … for a chef and his imagination, you can just imagine there’s no end to say the least.” With a background like that the menu is going to be spectacular, and it doesn’t stop there. Aaron continues, “Most of my background was Michelin Star. I worked under some amazing chefs in France and Italy.”
Aaron talks about the launch of their new menu and one of my surprise favorites, the sous-vide octopus. Aaron describes the dish: “This one (sous-vide octopus) is pretty much inspired from a Spanish dish when I traveled in Spain. The sous vide is like a water bath so (the octopus) is sous vide for 24 hours overnight. Then it’s charred off in the kitchen, served with Spanish chorizo and squid ink sauce which has garlic, onions and a touch of Espelette pepper. A touch of orange juice adds a little bit of sweetness to it … and pickled radish and carrots to add some earthiness to the dish.”
The creative mind of Aaron Thomas continues to flow. He is in the process of creating VIP themed menus. “It’s like a chef’s table. The first menu I wrote, all the dishes are based on Tim Burton movies.” At this point, I was intrigued and I bet you are too. So, I’ll let Aaron continue. “This one is my take on how to put the corpse’s brain onto the plate as far as colors and flavors, the dish is actually supposed to be served with sea bass …because the vendor couldn’t get the sea bass to us in time, I changed it up and put salmon on it and again, I used the squid ink with black rice just to get a kind of dense risotto and I have umeboshi pureed. I add a bit of sugar to sweeten it up so with that dish there’s earthiness, the sweetness and the denseness of the rice. Perfect.” I was swooned at first bite. Umeboshi is a pickled plum from Japan, my home country, so I became a bit nostalgic at the flavor, which is quite unique.
And if you’re looking for fresh oysters with a twist, look no further. “That’s again off the Tim Burton [themed menu] inspired by the movie Beetlejuice … I was trying to see how I could do it without freaking the guests out because there’s a part where giant worms are coming out of sand. So instead of buying a giant worm, I don’t know if I can or not, I changed it up for oysters and made edible sand. On the actual menu they’ll be dehydrated snail chips … poached in Tabasco sauce and honey … the sand is edible and again just to add a little bit of sweetness I added umeboshi.”
Aaron shares a little history with us. “I baked my first pastry when I was 8 years old. I won my first baking contest when I was 10 years old … I decided I wanted to be a chef when I was 11, never went to culinary school, just jumped on a train when I was in the UK and went to France. I started from the bottom. I started dishwashing and then I started peeling like a hundred pounds of carrots a day.” From these humble beginnings to Michelin star restaurants to Las Vegas comes Chef Aaron Thomas, a culinary master.
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