Jet Tila was a relative unknown when he won the job as executive chef at Wazuzu in Encore, beating out dozens of other candidates when he scored big with a chef’s tasting. Today, at the relatively tender age of 32, he’s one of the youngest and brightest major chefs on the Strip.
Of Thai-Chinese descent, he was reared in Los Angeles in a restaurant family. He makes frequent trips to Asia, and is fluent in both Thai and Cantonese. Like many in his generation, he is Internet-savvy, and launched one of the first cooking websites, chefjet.com. His parents started a chain called Royal Thai Cuisine in Southern California, and he worked through all the positions in the restaurant, all the way up to head chef.
Tila is comfortable with many different types of Asian cooking, so the sushi, Indian-style roti breads, and Malaysian dishes at his restaurant are as dependable as the Thai and Chinese ones.
Pineapple Fried Rice
Credit: Anthony Mair
- 1 small pineapple
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 tablespoons dried shrimp (Thai)
- 4-6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons shallots, diced
- 4 ounces Chinese sausage, sliced thin
- 4-6 medium shrimp, peeled and cleaned
- ½ tablespoon ginger, finely chopped 4 cups day-old rice
- 2-3 tablespoons fish sauce 1-2 tablespoons Thai soybean sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ tablespoon curry powder
- 2 to 3 green onions, chopped
- 2 teaspoons white pepper
- 3 tablespoons cilantro leaves
Method: Cut the pineapple in half lengthwise and cut out the fruit section. Remove the core and cut the fruit into medium dice. Reserve about one cup of pineapple for the fried rice.
In a large skillet, heat oil until a wisp of white smoke appears. Add the dried shrimp and fry until crispy, about 20 seconds.
Stir in garlic and shallots and cook until light brown. Add the Chinese sausage and cook until they are slightly crisp, about 2 minutes. Add shrimp and ginger and cook until the shrimp start to turn pink, about 1 minute.
Fold in rice; make sure not to break grains. Add the fish sauce, soybean sauce, sugar and curry powder. Continue to stir for about a minute. Stir in pineapple. Cook fried rice for 1-2 more minutes, folding constantly and mixing ingredients well.
Fold in green onions and white pepper. Transfer the fried rice into the halved pineapple. Garnish with springs of fresh cilantro.
’07 Produttori Barbaresco
Danielle Price, executive director of wine at Wynn, recommends this wine from Piedmont in northern Italy ($18 a glass at the restaurant). “This elegant Nebbiolo has strawberry and rose notes with velvety tannins which complement the Chinese sausage in the dish,” she says. For an affordable alternative, Kenny Lee of Lee’s Liquor recommends a ’05 Terre da Vino Barbaresco ($15 a bottle).