Opening a new restaurant in the very competitive Las Vegas market is a difficult endeavor that takes unshakable stamina and stacks of green backs.
Surviving through the tumultuous first year with it’s the ups and a down of uncertainty is a test of endurance and tenacity. Food Network Star Chef Robert Irvine’s stalwart character and dedication to excellence is what propels him forward at his Vegas venue Robert Irvine’s Public House within the Tropicana Hotel and Casino.
Now celebrating a year with his first Las Vegas venue, we caught up with him for an intimate conversation on the challenges, victories and goals that lie ahead for this busy celebrity chef and entrepreneur.
Chef Robert you made quite an entrance last year in Las Vegas by you rappelling down side of the Tropicana Hotel, landing a helicopter in the parking lot and arriving in a military convoy. Has it paid off?
I think anyone worth their salt in the food industry knows If you haven’t opened a restaurant in Las Vegas you are not playing with the big boys. So, I say yes. We have a great local following. The restaurant has done well this past year and has gotten stronger and stronger. We have made some changes going along, seeing what the locals like and what the visitors like. 1000 times yes, way above expectations.
Has anything really surprised you about Las Vegas that you were not expecting?
When I got into this market I did not just want to be a face on the side of building without the locals coming in. I wanted the locals to come in as well as the visitors. So, I have been surprised by the amounts of locals that do come in. That has been my biggest surprise. I have tried to be involved in the community with Three Square and the USO here.
You have been a big supporter of the military. What are you doing to continue you outreach to our troops?
I was recently in Houston and Biloxi Mississippi with my Robert Irvine Live show. We are scheduled for a USO show in England, Germany and Iraq at Christmas.
Chef you are surrounded by some of the best chefs in the world here in Las Vegas. Do you have a chance to collaborate with any of them?
It is interesting because they have their own worlds and their own business, but I can tell you and I can categorically state that I am the one that spends the most time here.
Aside from your lovely wife and number one support Gail, are there people here at the restaurant that you would like to personally acknowledge, or has it been a team effort?
As you are aware there is a high turnover rate in the industry. But I can tell you this we are 98% of the staff that we started with a year ago. We reward loyalty with loyalty and we do acknowledge that and that is why 98% are still here. I wanted my staff not only to know me, but my wife Gail and my two daughters.
Chef you thrive on challenges and your fitness and cookbook Fit Fuel is an example of that. Tell us more about that.
It’s interesting that you bring up Fit Fuel because we are working on a book for the family, Fit Family. That is all about health, family and cooking. We need to take time at the table because we don’t get that while on the devices or playing video games. To me exercise creates a great personal image and gives you strength of character and makes you feel good. Whether you get up and go for a run in the morning or play ball with your kids, those are the moments that will define you when you get older. I am a big proponent in that you can have fun, and you can occasionally eat indulgent foods along with healthy foods. But for me exercise and eating healthy equals fun.
We have a crisis in our country, people are not as healthy as they should be, and they are more obese than they should be. What advice would you give to someone who wants to begin to be healthier and needs a jump start to be more health conscious?
This for all of you out there! By the year 2020 there will be nobody in any of our states that can join our military because they will be considered obese by our standards. That is true number. I am working on those numbers now with some high up experts. I say you owe it to yourself to think about what you are eating, to exercise and encourage other people to help you.
Find someone to go to the gym with or take that walk everyday or play with your kids every day. Believe me as you get older heart disease, high cholesterol and all those other things will creep up and along with stress will kill you.
To end on a positive note, we are excited to see you and Chef Anne Burrell are hosting Worse Cooks in America.
It is billed as the feistiest season ever. Anne and I were together for season two together. We have 13 of America’s worse cooks and we are taking them on a journey of hope, fulfillment, anger, frustration, sometimes sadness and at the end of all that one person will go on to win $25,000. I can’t tell you who wins but I can say it is FIESTY!