Mike Ross opened Jessie Rae’s BBQ (5611 S. Valley View Blvd., 702-797-0754, JessieRaesBBQ.com) in September, but he has already seen lines out the door. The 700-square-foot space may not look like much, but the barbecue coming from the kitchen is serious business. Ross, who worked under chef Billy Demarco at La Cave in Wynn, entered his first barbecue competition in Laughlin four years ago. “Our goal was to not finish last,” he says. His “God Sauce” took second place, and his brisket landed somewhere in the middle. “We overcooked the brisket, so we just dumped our sauce on it and it carried us through.”
Since then, Ross has entered more than 20 competitions where he honed his craft with the help of his wife, Jessie Rae. After excellent feedback from the competition circuit and multiple people’s choice awards, the pair was able to open a brick-and-mortar shop.
A member of Nevada BBQ Association, Ross wants to make a name for his cuisine in the city, and is even trademarking the term “Las Vegas-style BBQ.”
“Just like Las Vegas is such an eclectic place of culture, people and flavor [where] everything is under one place—that’s what our barbecue is.” And Ross is already paying it forward with massive portions of incredibly delicious ’cue. Mike and Jesse Rae say they are already looking for their next location.
To be filed under “What ’Cue May Come,” the husband-wife team of Brian Buechner and Natalia Badzjo plans to open Big B’s Texas BBQ off St. Rose Parkway and Eastern Avenue in late December. The couple, both of whom work in nightlife—she as the senior manager of customer development for Wynn Nightlife and he, until recently, as the general manager of Drai’s Beach Club—had the idea on their back burner for more than three years, but never had the time to commit until now. Buechner, originally from Texas, is now working full time on the project, and is the grill man, while Badzjo focuses on marketing and finance.
Buechner is entirely at home in the kitchen. “We’ve been together for more than 10 years now, and he has been the chef of the house for the past 10 years,” Badzjo says. Buechner’s passion for cooking started when he opened a taco stand outside Texas nightclubs when he was 19.
Big B’s will maintain a casual, comfortable vibe. “Imagine a backyard—that’s what are dining room will look like,” Buechner says. Guests can pop open a Shiner Bock or Lone Star from the large cooler in front of the counter as they watch their meat being prepared right in front of them. “There aren’t a lot of restaurants that allow you [into] that process as a consumer or guest—to actually watch [meat] be cut, watch it be weighed, watch it hit your paper,” Buechener says. “I think that’s a unique part of what we are doing.”