After nearly 60 years in a kitchen and more than three and a half decades at the forefront of the local food scene, André Rochat has learned the importance of taking some time for himself. Even before the October closing of Andre’s in Monte Carlo and the impending opening of his next venue, Andre’s Bistro & Bar, the chef made a conscious decision to travel.
“When you work every holiday and every weekend, and you miss out on friends and family because you have to be in the kitchen,” Rochat says, “you start to reflect on that after a period of time.”
These days, Rochat spends about six months a year in Thailand. He also makes frequent hunting and fishing trips, visits Alaska every autumn and often takes advantage of his guest-chef status with Crystal Cruises. When Vegas Seven caught up with the chef, he was in Thailand, but his excitement about his next project was palpable.
New Team, Familiar Faces
The slated mid-January opening of Andre’s Bistro & Bar will mark the first new opening for Stacked Hospitality Group, which now also oversees Rochat’s restaurant Alizé in the Palms. Managing partners Joseph Marsco and Mark Purdy have long histories with Rochat, who is a consultant to Stacked. Purdy began working with the chef in 1998, and ran Alizé’s kitchen until Chris Bulen took the reins after Andre’s in Monte Carlo closed. Marsco opened Alizé as general manager, eventually moving up to managing partner of both venues. The third managing partner, John Wood, is a nightlife veteran who spent 10 years as senior executive director at Wynn Resorts.
To run the kitchen at the new locale, the team has tapped as executive chef Scott Sampson who has more than 30 years of experience. Having worked at Andre’s Downtown, Sampson is well versed in Rochat’s signature style. Numerous employees from Andre’s Monte Carlo will also join the staff.
“I always trusted these people,” the chef says of his team. “They helped build my name and reputation. You know, over time my restaurants have not really been about me—they are about the people that make it happen every day.”
Getting His Name Back on the Door
The closing of his Monte Carlo restaurant did nothing to diminish Rochat’s standing as a local culinary star. His restaurant Alizé has remained the fine dining focal point of the Palms since the resort opened its doors in 2001, weathering the casino’s various ownership and management changes. But his departure from the south Strip did mark the first time since the original Andre’s opened Downtown in 1980, that the chef’s name has not graced the doors of a local eatery.
While the chef insists the lack of his name on a restaurant was “not a big concern,” he concedes it will be nice to see it once again. “When I asked about the name of the bistro, Joe and Mark told me they wanted it to be named Andre’s, and that did make me happy. There is a loyal following of customers who are always seeking out Andre’s.”
The menu at Andre’s Bistro will be, to a great extent, exactly what bistros have long represented: casual, approachable French dining. “I told [my partners], it can be French but not too French,” Rochat says. “[I] want it to be a warm and friendly local spot, a place for families to come for dinner, business people to come for lunch and guys watching the game to hang out at the bar.”
Rochat promises classics, such as onion soup and escargot. But the kitchen will also offer dishes “for those who might feel threatened by a French menu,” including lobster rolls, burgers and even a house-made hot dog.
The chef also expects Purdy and Sampson to continue the tradition of house-made charcuterie that Rochat learned at his father’s butcher shop in Savoie, France. And desserts will range from “probably the only local soufflé” to milkshakes and root beer floats.
Longtime fans can expect to see Rochat in the kitchen from time to time, especially during the restaurant’s early days. “I look forward to seeing my customers,” he says. “I look forward to being in a local Las Vegas restaurant again. It has been nearly 10 years. I will be around to help—and also get in a few good fishing and hunting trips.”