Michael J. Vignola is corporate executive chef of BR Guest Hospitality’s Strip House restaurants, including the Las Vegas outlet at Planet Hollywood. His first culinary jobs were internships at Laurent Manrique’s Gertrude’s and Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin, and he has worked with chefs including John Schenk, Rocco Dispirito, David Walzog and Marcus Samuelsson. He also was a champion on the Food Network show “Chopped.”
Review-Journal: Always in your fridge?
Chef Michael Vignola: Eggs and some sort of charcuterie.
R-J: Currently obsessed with?
Vignola: Probably a mix between ‘nduja, cured egg yolks and bonito flakes.
R-J: Newest Las Vegas discovery?
Vignola: Chada Street (Thai restaurant, 3839 Spring Mountain Road). They have lamb ribs that are like crazy good.
R-J: Favorite indulgence?
Vignola: Anything chocolate. And jelly beans.
R-J: I never eat …
Vignola: I try to never eat fat food.
R-J: Favorite brunch at home?
Vignola: Baked eggs or Easter pie — something simple, very communal. I love legs of lamb that have been roasted the day before, chilled and sliced.
R-J: Best tip for home cooks?
Vignola: Use common sense. If something looks like it’s burning, chances are it is. If it looks like too much salt, it probably is. Cooking is an art. With the exception of baking, it’s not a science. And slow down. Don’t rush it. Take your time and enjoy it.
R-J: What are you working on?
Vignola: Winter menus. We just started looking at kohlrabi and turnips. I want to use a coal-roasted rutabaga, which we would carve tableside with brown butter. With coal you get this smoky meatiness you can’t get from conventional roasting.
R-J: We have tons of steakhouses in Las Vegas. How is Strip House different?
Vignola: Strip House is really a pioneer in feminizing the steakhouse genre. We really wanted to make a place where women can feel comfortable. It’s fun and sexy. It’s Vegas — a little risque, but still tasteful. More approachable and less of that Old World boys’ club.
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