The head chef of the new, $10-million steakhouse opening this spring on the Las Vegas Strip won’t have to interview for the position. He or she will have to beat seven other chefs in televised cook-offs to win the job.
The chefs will rumble for the top job at Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse, a Prohibition-themed restaurant opening at Flamingo Las Vegas, in “Vegas Chef Prizefight,” a Food Network series that premieres Thursday.
During each episode, host Anne Burrell will lead the eight chefs into different restaurant kitchens within the Caesars portfolio during a busy dinner service. There, they’ll have to take over and prove they have the chops to run a high-profile Vegas restaurant.
Restaurant expert Scott Conant, Caesars Entertainment regional president Eileen Moore Johnson and surprise guests will be there too, choosing which contestants move forward in the competition.
Besides eavesdropping on the usual interpersonal dramas, the series allows viewers to peek inside the kitchens of popular Vegas restaurants, whose fluorescent lights and clanging pans look nothing like the plush dining rooms and lounges just beyond the swinging kitchen doors.
“The stakes are incredibly high in ‘Vegas Chef Prizefight,’” said Courtney White, president of Food Network. “Winning this show will literally change someone’s life, so there are real consequences.”
The six-episode series kicks off inside Caesars’ test kitchen, followed by a back-of-house takeover of BLT Steak at Bally’s Las Vegas. Subsequent episodes take viewers inside Guy Fieri’s El Burro Borracho at Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino; behind the scenes at Caesars Palace’s Mr. Chow with owner Maximillian Chow; and backstage at Cromwell’s Giada restaurant with Lish Steiling, Giada De Laurentiis’ head of culinary operations.
The real treat for viewers, though, is a backstage pass into the kitchen at Restaurant Guy Savoy, the Michelin-starred French jewel of Caesars Palace. The series wraps up with a 90-minute finale on April 9 when the winner is offered the top toque job at Bugsy & Meyer’s.
Bugsy & Meyer’s isn’t the only restaurant with an executive chef hired through a television cooking show.
The head chef position at BLT Steak at Bally’s Las Vegas went to the winner of “Hell’s Kitchen” Season 15. The winner of that show’s 17th season scored a $250,000-a-year job as the opening chef of Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen restaurant at Caesars Palace, which debuted in 2018.
Burrell and Conant may be the most familiar names in “Vegas Chef Prizefight,” which recently wrapped filming in Vegas.
Burrell, an accomplished chef, hosted Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America” and “Chef Wanted” shows, where she put hapless cooks and top-notch chefs through culinary wringers. Conant, another Food Network veteran, won acclaim for his cooking at a number of restaurants, including Scarpetta at Montage Beverly Hills, which closed in 2016.
Despite Southern California’s deep talent pool, though, don’t look for any Southland chefs among Prizefight’s contenders. Instead, the contestants were plucked from Auburn. Ala. (Jeffrey Compton); Bridgeport, Conn. (Roshara Sanders); Chicago (Julia Helton, Lamar Moore); Denver (Juan Zepeda); Detroit (Brittney Brown); New York City (Janey Lyu); and Tempe, Ariz. (Jeff Kraus).