Steve Benjamin

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

Despite having what appears to be an American name, this friendly Parisian is as French as a Camembert wrapped in a tricolor. When Benjamin first came to the MGM Grand six years ago, his accent was as thick as the crème Anglaise served on desserts in his restaurant. Today, he’s lost much of the accent and speaks fluent English. He’s made Las Vegas his permanent home.

What makes him great? Simply that from day to day, year to year, the kitchen at L’Atelier is the most consistently excellent on the Strip. It’s virtually impossible to get a bad dish here, and that includes faithful and difficult reproductions of the dishes that made his boss so famous, such as his celebrated mashed potatoes, stuffed quail and papillotte of langoustine.

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Combining ingredients that are both popular and typical of Middle Eastern and Moroccan cuisine, Paymon’s general manager Jeff Ecker created a drink that pairs well with the tradition of smoking hookah. With delicate flavors such as mango, coconut, orange and cherry, Ecker notes that it appeals to the female set as well. The cocktail was also featured in 2002 on Rachael Ray’s show, $40 a Day. It has remained on the menu ever since, a testament to the enduring success of this match made in the Mediterranean.

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