Cooking in Guy Savoy’s Kitchen

Over the last few years, I’ve been on a number of adventures around the world that have opened my eyes and inspired me to think in different ways. A lot of these adventures have inspired valuable lessons that have stuck with me, and others have inspired recipes as well! That gave me the idea to start a new series, which I’m calling “Food Exploring.” Once a month, I’ll dust off one of these adventures and share what lessons and recipes that particular adventure inspired!

Even though there are a lot of stories I want to share with you, there’s one that strikes me as a particularly good one to start with. And that’s the time I was in Las Vegas and went to cook in the two-Michelin-star Restaurant Guy Savoy at Caesar’s Palace.

I’ve had a lot of cooking lessons in different parts of the world, but they seem both a world away from my most recent cooking lesson, in the kitchen of the two-Michelin-star Restaurant Guy Savoy Las Vegas, learning from the restaurant’s head chef, Chef Mathieu Chartron, how to make stellar soup, fantastic purees, and the most delicious duck breast I’ve ever tasted.

Guy Savoy {and yes, that’s pronounced gee sa-vwah}, in case you’re not up on your French chefs, is legendary. He apprenticed at the famous Maison Troisgros until he was ready to open his own restaurant, started garnering Michelin Stars in 1985 and hasn’t slowed down since. His restaurant at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas has two stars – and offers cooking lessons with the head chef!

The day of my cooking experience, I went speed walking through the massive expanse of Caesar’s, looking for the restaurant itself. During that time, it really hit me just how big the hotels in Las Vegas really are. Each hotel takes up a gigantic city block, and they’re all full of multiple casinos, multiple restaurants, shops, and more, and a lot of them connect to each other.

When I found the restaurant, the doors were shut and it looked pretty empty. I wondered for a moment if I’d come to the wrong place, and cautiously pushed through the doors. But I only waited a moment before a smiling man in a crisp chef’s jacket and glasses came out and greeted me with a slight French accent. It took me a moment to recognize him as Restaurant Guy Savoy’s head chef, Chef Mathieu Chartron.

We headed back into the kitchen, and I was amazed to find that I was the only one taking part in the cooking experience. Was I really going to have the whole place to myself? When I asked about it, Chef Chartron said they do get a few takers each week, normally ones and twos and maybe a group of friends, but it’s not anything that overwhelms them. It’s just enough for them – and their students – to have fun.

And it was definitely fun!

I felt absolutely spoiled in the process, because most of the ingredients we were going to work with were already washed, prepped, and laid out in perfect mise en place. But they still put me to work, chopping, sautéing, simmering, blending, toasting, and plating – enough work to test out some new skills, and realize I probably need to go back to knife skills class. Nothing like playing with the pros to make you humble!

We started with a creamy chestnut and celery soup with wild mushrooms and chive oil, garnished with toasted chestnuts – which is probably the most amazing thing I’ve ever made, or even tasted, with celery.

Chef Chartron did a great job of weaving a little backstory into all of it as well, so I’d understand which prep steps were standard at Restaurant Guy Savoy and which were his own behind the scenes tricks, how to play the flavors off each other and how to tell when something was seasoned properly, and thoughts on pairing wine as just an extra ingredient.

And “add some more butter, because we’re French.”

When we finished the soup, we enjoyed our fare at the Krug Chef’s Table in the back of the kitchen. It’s separated artfully from the rest of the kitchen by glass panels and has a light fixture made of wine bottles and Edison bulbs that I would love to recreate somewhere in our house!

It was pretty thrilling to be back there, because under normal circumstances, the Chef’s Table is prohibitively expensive – but I bet it’s worth it.

Next up, we created this beautiful seared duck breast with button mushrooms, baby carrots, carrot puree, and watercress. The watercress gives a nice peppery flavor, the seared duck is beautifully crispy, and that carrot puree is to die for. I made it just this past weekend with a marinated and sliced steak, and my husband and I couldn’t get enough of it.

I loved creating the little stars on the button mushrooms – we made those just by skinning the mushrooms and pressing the knife tip into the cap of the mushroom.

We seared the already dry-cured duck breast by letting it rest skin-side down in a pan until the fat rendered down, flipping it, and then finishing it in the oven. I’ve used the technique on duck breast, chicken breast, and steak, and it’s fabulous.

Throughout all this process, I was frantically taking mental notes. Even though they provided me the recipes we worked on at the end of the adventure, there were still a lot of tricks and tips they showed me that weren’t listed.

That night, I asked Scott to be my sounding board as I talked my way through the recipes, and I did my best to list down the extra steps in there. I think I have most of them, but even if I only have half, I still have a ton of new tips and techniques to use in my cooking.

The biggest thing I gained from all of this was a renewed appreciation for the discipline of mise en place. It literally means to put in place, to arrange your ingredients, your equipment, your environment just so, but in the kitchen, it’s a philosophy. It’s efficiency, it’s punctuality, it’s order in the chaos that is a professional working kitchen. And it goes a long way to helping you declutter your everyday routine.

I loved visiting Restaurant Guy Savoy’s kitchen, seeing the layout, the routine, all the prep work that goes into making a delicious meal, and the dedication of the people in the kitchen making that meal. I feel extremely lucky to have been just a little part of that experience, and send my best to Chef Chartron and his staff, with thanks for their wonderful outreach and all they are doing not just to creating exquisite food, but to let people peek behind the curtain into the things that go into the creative process.

Restaurant Guy Savoy

  • Fine French Dining, located in Caesar’s Palace
  • Open Wed-Sun 5:30pm – 9:30pm, Closed Mon + Tues
  • Dress: Business Casual
  • For reservations, call (702) 731-7286, email at guysavoy@caesars.com, or click here!

What about you guys? What things are on your foodie bucket list?

About the ChefKristin

Career Army officer with a tendency toward workaholism. On the side, self taught cook, carpenter, and gardener, working to build a beautiful life for my family. Trying to tilt my balance in the right direction.

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