ACHIEVEMENTS: After 14 years as food and beverage director for Four Seasons hotels and nine as vice president of food and beverage at The Mirage and Aria, Clifton’s culinary climb took a mindful, personal turn in April when she hung her own shingle. “I have learned that it isn’t a job title that defines you but the relationships that you form over many years,” she says.
NEW CHALLENGE: She’s raising capital to launch the restaurant concept for Downtown that she’s been brewing for 15 years—a “quality quick-serve concept” is all she’ll share, for now—plus, increasing the workforce at FishFork. “Providing jobs is a way of supporting the Las Vegas community.”
HER SECRET INGREDIENT: Clifton is something of a dining fixer (think Scandal’s Olivia Pope); her intrinsic understanding of food trends, prep, service and the folks who ferry food and drink has invigorated the dining programs wherever she’s worked. Her secret to success, she says, is “respect for your client and sharing the passion they have for their brand.”
INSPIRATION: “Our whole lives we’ve been told to follow our dreams, and this is what I’ve learned from Christina,” says Vilay Khamvongsa, Clifton’s assistant of seven years. “It really is about believing in yourself, and she is actually fulfilling her dream.”
THE FF WORD: Folks love the company name, based on one of the first pieces of cutlery Clifton learned about during her quest for encyclopedic culinary knowledge. “When we call the cellphone company regarding our phone system the agent will always ask, ‘What is FishFork?’ or [in person], people will repeat the name of the company, smile, and say, ‘Cool name!’”