Photo Credit: Elaine and Scott Harris

Julia Child once said, “People who love to eat are always the best people.” She also added, “No one is born a great cook. One learns by doing.” Upon meeting Executive Chef and owner of Hedary's Mediterranean Restaurant Joseph Davey in Las Vegas, we quickly concluded that Davey possesses the culinary prowess and affable personality of one who has taken his love and passion for food to an astute professional level through the process of doing.

For his first work experience, the original owners hired Davey when he was just 15 years young. Throughout college Davey also worked in Italian food restaurants. “I loved that every day was such a different and new experience,” said Davey. He trained alongside Frank Hedary, the original owner who had established restaurants in Texas during the 1970s and then opened the first Las Vegas location in 2003. “I worked alongside Frank for several years and soon realized that it is such a clean, healthy cuisine that I wanted to stay and well, here I am today.”

Everything is made in-house. The bread is prepared daily and baked in the pizza ovens per order. All the produce is picked up fresh three times a week from local producers. Specialty spices come from an outside vendor and Hedary's does market its own sauces and spices that can be purchased upon request.

“I stay inspired as a chef because I simply love food. As I prepare food, I have found that just by changing the flavor profile slightly, I can create an entire new experience. I do like to have people try things that they may never have been interested in,” said Davey. As far as suggestions for those who have never experienced Mediterranean cuisine, Davey’s first point of inquiry is to discover what they insist on avoiding, since there are so many who struggle with allergies and food sensitives.

The menu is largely vegetarian-focused with items such as classic Baba Ganoosh—delicately layered eggplant, combined with roasted garlic, tahini and zingy lemon juice all topped with the freshest olive oil. Davey recommends trying the fresh hummus. “We soak our garbanzo beans overnight and then add garlic, tahini and salt and pepper. We want to get the freshest hummus to the plate,” added Davey. “We also do a really great gyro sandwich here, which you don't see on a lot of menus, and our Labni, a smooth dry yogurt sprinkled with olive oil is a popular appetizer. One of my favorite dishes and that of our guests, is the Chicken Frarei: a half chicken baked to a golden-brown pan-roasted with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, potatoes and tomatoes. We also offer beer, cocktails and imported wines at good price points. My personal favorite is a Lebanese red blend wine, Reserve du Convent Chauteau Ksara. A lot of our wines are from Lebanon, which are actually made by French winemakers and are aged in French oak barrels for 5-10 years.”

Davey and his parents, alongside girlfriend Allison Colarusso, have put their creative forces together during COVID by donating food to essential workers during the shutdown. “Although operating at 50% capacity as per state guidelines, we have seen a pickup in our takeout orders, but have stayed away from delivery. We stayed open due to our loyal customer base although we have had to furlough a few workers,” said Davey.

As far as the future, Davey is optimistic, but realizes that all of us must adhere to what mandates are implemented by the state. Creativity and flexibility are the two things that help propel Hedary's forward. “We do have some exciting things coming in the future but one thing that is a part of our restaurant promotion is the mini vial of Gold Bar premium blended whiskey finished in Napa Wine barrels. The Gold Bar brand won double gold medal in San Francisco,” said Colarusso, who formally worked in sales and marketing in the Las Vegas beverage industry before joining Davey in the business. “The product will also be represented by the Golden Knights hockey team for the next 5 years. It is the perfect gift size as it is literally in the shape of a gold bar with liquid whiskey gold inside. This is a real draw for Vegas Golden Knights fans and really anyone looking for unique Vegas memorabilia.”

Learning by doing, doing despite great challenges and moving forward in a positive manner while maintaining strong customer service is what Chef Joseph Davey attributes to his on-going success even in the time of COVID. Davey and his supportive family are doing what they can to keep the doors open and the lights turned on while cooking up their delectable Mediterranean cuisine at Hedary's.