First off, yes, it’s OK to call her Mama Sarah—all her regulars do. The Station Casinos team members, too. “From Day One … that’s all they’ve ever called me,” she says. And on Fridays, those in the know come from all over to line up for Mama Sarah’s specialty: crab legs cooked to order in her special blend of herbs and spices.
Growing up in Louisiana, Mama Sarah learned to cook from her mother, whose recipe she adapted to make her signature dish. Once you hand your plate of crab legs over, they’re dressed with green onion, cilantro, garlic, chopped tomatoes, Cajun seasoning, Chinese hot peppers and butter, and are then whacked on the flattop griddle with a spatula to make sure the flavors seep in. Then she hands the plate back, steaming hot, fragrant with chilies and herbs. (Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty when eating them.)
Mama Sarah’s been cooking for more than 50 years, and with Green Valley Ranch since it opened. Prior to that she was a cook for TWA for 33 years. She’s even cooked for Pope John Paul II (“I made him lobster Thermidor.”).
No wonder Mama Sarah has a lot of fans come Fridays—and she notices. “When I see the line, it’s amazing. The other girls try to help, and guests will tell them, ‘Can you cook like Mama?’ They get so mad!” she laughs. “And I have some customers who come in to see if I’m working first before they eat. It really makes you feel good.”