Jean Paul Labadie is known to Las Vegas diners from his long stint as Emeril Lagasse’s chef de cuisine at Emeril’s Fish House in the MGM Grand, where he succeeded Rosemary’s Michael Jordan. It might be natural to think he was French, considering his name, but the fact is, he’s from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Today, JP, as everyone calls him, mans the stoves at Marché Bacchus, where he cooks French and Cajun for the wine lovers who come to sip wines from the store, relax on the patio and stare at the duck-stocked lake. The restaurant is more than just a locals favorite; it’s a chef hangout and a place to find terrific boutique wines.
“I want this to be a nice neighborhood restaurant where people can sit and enjoy a great glass of wine and an affordable dinner,” JP says.
The menu is French-based, but he loves to riff for the guests. His shrimp recipe is a prime example. And it’s easy, irresistible and perfect for a spring afternoon.
Grilled Pesto Marinated Jumbo Shrimp
with Heirloom Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Red Onion and Basil Salad
- 2 cups pesto (see below)
- 20-25 medium shrimp
- 4-5 heirloom tomatoes
- ⅕ cup red onion, thin-sliced
- 2 cups diced fresh mozzarella
- ½ cup balsamic syrup
- 2½ cups extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
For the Pesto
- ½ pound fresh basil
- ½ cup toasted pine nuts
- ½ cup of the Parmesan (a portion of the above)
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 cups of the olive oil (a portion of the above)
- Salt and white pepper
Put everything in the pesto recipe except the oil into a food processor and blend until well-mixed. Drizzle the oil in a stream until blended and the mixture is nicely puréed. Check for seasoning and toss in shrimp. Let marinate one hour.
Grill the shrimp on medium heat, turning once or twice until done. See that the grill isn’t too hot, or the pesto will char and the shrimp will be dry and overcooked.
To plate, slice the tomatoes as thin as possible, then toss with the cheese and red onion, adding the remaining olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the salad in the center of the plates, top with a four or five shrimp for each plate and garnish with the extra basil, cheese, balsamic syrup and any remaining oil.
Marché Bacchus owner Jeff Wyatt recommends the delicious Curran ’07 Grenache Blanc from California’s Santa Ynez Valley with the dish. A bargain at just less than $20, it has a nice smokiness that complements the grilled shrimp, and just the right balance of fruit and acidity.