You get the feeling talking with Executive Chef José Lopez Picazo that he’s a great admirer of America’s two most celebrated Spanish chefs — Jose Andrés and Julian Serrano — but that he’s more impressed with the day to day kitchen and cooking habits of Serrano. The Madrid native should know, since he’s one of the few chefs to have done considerable time with both men — working with Andrés for years in D.C. before coming west to take over the kitchen duties at Julian Serrano.
“Andrés is more restless…more….,” he hesitates. “Flamboyant? Crazier?” we suggest. “Yes,” he replies. “More crazier, more outrageous…,” is how he affectionately puts it. “But in seven years in working with him, I never saw him in the kitchen. Julian is more down to earth. He loves to cook.”
Language barriers can be tough, but we think Picazo was telling us he admires the creativity of Andrés but has the ultimate respect for Serrano’s dedication to the nuts and bolts of the culinary arts.
ELV knows there’s a certain nuttiness in all chefs…especially the Spanish ones…but as long as they can turn out a tortilla de patatas and seafood ceviche like they do at JS — not to mention a fresh fruit with cava espuma (the perfect dessert on a hot summer’s day) — we will forgive them their charming eccentricities.
Of course, one of mixologist Jeffrey Watson’s Big Gingers at the bar here will put anyone in a charitable mood. It’s so damn gingery (and ELV loves him his ginger anything), it will send you gingerly on your way, as it did for us after we ginned up a reason for asking for the recipe… and receiving a free drink in response. (Thanks mixologist Jeffrey Watson!). And here it is:
The Big Ginger
1 tsp muddled fresh ginger
1 oz. fresh green apple puree
1/2 oz. agave syrup
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 oz. Herradura reposado tequila
Muddle, shake and pour over ice.
In the Aria Hotel and Casino
3730 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109