Kitchen Warriors

These days it seems like you can’t wander through a casino without bumping into a potential world-class chef. On March 10, casting directors from the Bravo television shows Top Chef and Top Chef: Just Desserts made their way to STK in the Cosmopolitan to hold an open casting call in the hopes of discovering the Next Big Culinary Thing.

Las Vegas has provided an abundance of contestants in the past, including Season 7 member Stephen Hopcraft, who became the executive chef at STK after his run on the show. “I think per capita we have some of the most talented chefs in the country,” Hopcraft says. “Everybody here has a really great personality and you have to be an outgoing person to make it in Las Vegas. When you put those two things together I think it’s a great talent pool for a Top Chef.” Jacquelynne Stine, owner of Las Vegas’ of Everything Under the Sun Catering, was among the 38 chefs who auditioned. “You’re putting yourself out there,” she says. “Your career could go up or come go way down.”

Another local contestant, Lodge Taverns corporate chef Chris Rich, says living in the “food mecca” gives him the advantage of having tasted and experienced food from some of the top restaurants in the country.

Hopcraft agrees. “When you make it big, you get to put a place here,” he says. “I think you’d be hard- pressed to come up with 17 chefs in this country without a couple of them coming from Las Vegas.”