The Five-Diamond General

Brian Kenny aims to please, and as executive chef of room service for Wynn/Encore, that’s a tall order

Chef Brian Kenny doesn’t see the Wynn and Encore as a pair of hotel-casinos; to him, they’re one big, sprawling, 4,700-room restaurant. It takes a small, efficient army to cater to thousands of guests’ demands 24/7, and as executive chef of room service, Kenny is its peerless leader.

His command center is split between two nearly identical kitchens, each operating inconspicuously below the properties’ casino floors. He calls his work spaces “the Cadillacs of room-service kitchens,” and for good reason: They’re massive—5,200 and 6,200 square feet, respectively—and contain both the ingredients and manpower to deliver culinary perfection, along with the occasional culinary miracle.

Seven Things Brian Kenny Can’t Live Without

  • A grill. “A house is not a home without one.”
  • The mountains. “Clean air, no cell coverage—what more could you ask for?” 
  • His morning workout. “All great days begin this way.”
  • Toasted wheat bagel with peanut butter. “The start of almost every morning. Then, there’s bacon …”
  • Tropical smoothies with lime and three Splendas. “Sweet and tart! That’s how I like it.” 
  • Hope and faith. “Hope for the best; faith it works out in the end.” 
  • Sunglasses. “Wow! It’s not only hot, it’s bright!”

The two AAA Five Diamond resorts share a 20-page, 140-item room service menu that runs from domestic favorites to exotic flavors. Plus, if you want something not listed, odds are they’ll make it. “That’s what we’re here for,” the chef says. “What they want, they get.“

And they’ll get it in less than 45 minutes, which is the AAA standard for room-service excellence. (Kenny’s staff actually shoots for 30 minutes, and he has their clock set five minutes ahead of time to keep them on time and on their toes.) It helps that in-room dining here has an impressive collection of neighbors to call upon if they need something. Whether it’s SW Steakhouse for fresh scallops or Sinatra for angel hair pasta, a vast selection of high-quality ingredients is just a quick dash across the casino. Still, there are a few things that can’t be found on-site, and when this happens, Kenny has to either fly it in or have his staff make it themselves.

“If someone wants fresh yogurt,” he says, “we’ll go out, buy the yogurt machine and make them fresh yogurt.” And yes, he has.

“I’ve blended an omelet in orange juice,” he says. Apparently pureed ham, cheese, eggs and OJ tastes a lot better than it sounds. “It was pretty good!” he says. “I was shocked.”

The average Wynn/Encore guest orders 1.6 meals from room service every day, which translates to about 700 orders on a slow day, rising up to 3,000 orders during peak times. Weekends are always busy, with 1,500 orders on a typical Sunday. Last New Year’s weekend, in-room dining did $312,000 in sales.

Sometimes those sales come in big chunks. His staff has prepared $1,000 breakfasts of ultra-high-grade, omi beef (price: $495 per 12-ounce steak, with side of Caesar salad extra). For one guest, they made French Brittany blue lobster three times a day. “We charged her $250 a meal,” he says with a shrug. “That’s all she would eat.”

Guests do get what they pay for with in-room service, Kenny says. “Some people think it’s highway robbery, but this is a very expensive machine to operate.” He cites a recent request—a New York strip steak, lobster and caviar-infused omelet—as an example of the value-for-top-dollar. While the delicacy-laced concoction cost $80, he says, “It was so big you couldn’t fold the omelet over.”

Similarly, a room service BLT sandwich costs $18, but Kenny insists it’s a relative bargain.

“There is half a pound of bacon on my BLT,” he says. “Every time I go out and I want to have a BLT, there’s never enough bacon on it, so we made a monster BLT. Sure, I charge $18 for it, but if you can finish that sandwich, wow.”

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