Meet Kurtess Mortensen, the guy who will be helping to bring Giada de Laurentiis’ culinary vision to life at the Cromwell. Following the surprising recent departure of Giada’s head chef Arturo Moscoso (most recently of Buddy V’s Ristorante in the Palazzo), Mortensen has been charged with handling final preparations for the Food Network star’s first restaurant launch. But he isn’t playing catch-up.
Mortensen is a veteran of Bouchon in the Venetian, and has worked within the Caesars Entertainment family at The Rio, Bally’s and Paris. As a corporate executive chef, overseeing all of the restaurants in the Quad, Flamingo and the Cromwell, Mortensen has been involved with Giada’s new project from the start. But as the restaurant continues its search for a new executive chef, he will be the chef charged with directly overseeing the rollout.
If you’re wondering whether Mortensen will add his own touch to a super-high-profile celebrity restaurant like this, you only need to look to a statement he made on the website WeAreChefs.com: “Recipes are a fact of life in a large-scale operation to ensure uniformity. In my own cooking, technique is more important the any set recipe, as are seasonal and special ingredients.”
So what’s going on with De Laurentiis and her last-minute kitchen shakeup? A source very close to the project says it’s simply because, “Giada has a high level of expectation for chefs.” We’re sure that has to hurt at least a little for Moscoso. What it means for Las Vegas diners remains to be seen.
Giada in the Cromwell opens June 3; reservations are available at OpenTable.com.
Additional reporting by David Morris.