The United States has had three distinct phases of celebrity chefs since the 1970s. The first phase was TV chefs like Julia Child and later Martin Yan, who had PBS cooking shows and cookbooks, but not chains of signature restaurants.
That was followed by chefs who weren’t quite as famous as today’s TV superstars but who became stars of a sort more for the restaurants than their TV fame. It’s hard exactly to know when that group gave way to today’s A-list celebrity chefs like Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, and Gordon Ramsay, but it’s probably fair to say that Emeril Lagasse spanned generations two and three.
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Lagasse began his career making his name as a restaurant owner who later transitioned to television fame. As his name grew in recognition, Lagasse grew his restaurant group paving the way both for the Fieri’s, Flay’s, and Ramsay’s to follow, but also Todd English, a generation two chef known for his signature Olives restaurant.
English opened Olive’s at MGM Resorts International’s (MGM) – Get Free Report Bellagio in 1998, nine years after he opened the original version in Boston. English, like Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck, were early players in the Las Vegas culinary scene well before it became dominated by TV chefs.
Now, after a move from Bellagio to the off-Strip Virgin Hotel less than two years ago, English has decided to close his signature restaurant.
Guy Fieri is known more for his TV fame than his cooking.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment
A Las Vegas Strip Pioneer Paved the Way
While Lagasse was sort of a double pioneer as he was a well-known restauranteur famous for his recipes who later became a TV megastar, Puck was more the model for English. A chef first, Puck built his media profile on the back of his abilities in the kitchen. He did become a bit of a well-known name, but it was more about cooking than being a Fieri-like over-the-top personality.
English has been the same way. He runs a global empire with Olives locations around the country and the world, but he’s even less of a celebrity than Puck or many other chefs who have a major Las Vegas presence.
Olives will have its last dinner service June 4, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Virgin Hotels has not commented as to what will go into the space that English is vacating.
And while the chef will be closing the concept that made his name on the Las Vegas Strip during its over 20-year run at Bellagio, English will retain a Las Vegas presence with The Beast, a restaurant in the Area15 entertainment district and Pepper Club at his English Downtown Las Vegas Hotel.
Las Vegas Strip Loses Other Famous Names
The Las Vegas Strip saw a number of major restaurants close since the covid pandemic hit. Caesars Entertainment (CZR) – Get Free Report had two major changes at its signature Caesars Palace property. In October 2021, Rao’s, a legendary New York City Italian restaurant closed at Ceasars Palace after 15 years,
“When we opened Rao’s Caesars Palace in December of 2006, we didn’t fully understand the impact it would have on all of our lives. Nearly 15 years later, as we prepare to close these doors for the final time, we are filled with a variety of emotions and will always look back and cherish the memories made within these walls,” Rao’s co-owners Frank Pellegrino Jr. and Ron Straci said in a press release.
The space is expected to welcome another New York legend, Peter Luger’s Steakhouse later this year.
Caesars will also see yet another major name eatery that started in New York City leave Caesars Palace. Old Homestead will close its doors at a date that has not yet been named to be replaced in late 2023 by Brasserie B by Bobby Flay. The new French-inspired eatery will be open for brunch, lunch, and dinner.
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