One of Strip’s Brightest Culinary Stars Celebrates Career Milestone

I’ve posted a new podcast over at the UNLV Center for Gaming Research, an interview with Julian Serrano, the chef behind Picasso at Bellagio and his namesake restaurant at Aria. I don’t make a habit on interviewing chefs, even ones as accomplished as Serrano; this was done as the result of his induction into the Gaming Hall of Fame last year. This is an elite group of men and women who have had substantial careers in the industry, and one of the things I do on UNLV’s gaming website is to maintain an exhibit chronicling the Hall. For all living inductees, I’ve made it a point to conduct interviews that I can post so they themselves can share in their own words exactly what makes them a Hall of Famer.

Chef Serrano was fascinating to talk to—we started with his reminiscences of growing up in Madrid and wanting to be a soccer star and his later decision to go into restaurants. From there, he shared his move to America and his long career in San Francisco.

Things really got interesting when he talked of his courtship by Steve Wynn to come to the under-construction Bellagio and open Picasso, and of the pressures that surrounded the restaurant’s opening.  Likewise, Serrano spoke in great detail about the hard work involved in planning, opening, and running his Aria restaurant.

The 25-minute talk made it clear that it takes a great deal to get to the top of the restaurant world, with passion and hard work two of the most necessary ingredients.

You can listen to the interview yourself here.