He’s hosted many luxury events and has put together a roster of the best chefs and mixologists under one roof. We wanted to understand the luxury palate of the man who helps pull together some of the most luxurious experiences in the world. Enter, Sebastien Silvestri.
DLX: Tell us a bit about the food and dining experience at the Venetian and Palazzo.
We have one of the most spectacular food and beverage programs around the planet. Between the Venetian and Palazzo, you have all the world’s greatest chefs. You have Wolfgang Puck’s CUT, which is probably one of his finest restaurants and top steakhouses in the country. We have Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico, Table 10, and Lagasse’s Stadium. We have Thomas Keller who is one of the greatest American chefs and does great French fare at Bouchon. Then we have Mario Batali; you know we’re an Italian property, so we need a great Italian chef. Mario has Carnevino, B&B, OTTO, and B&B Burgers. He has four restaurants with us. And then we just opened a restaurant with Buddy Valastro, the Cake Boss, and the restaurant and bakery have been doing so well since they opened.
So, if you look at the program, we have all the top chefs and we have spectacular restaurants. And of course, you can’t forget about Daniel Boulud with DB Brasserie which opened last year. So, you see, it’s Daniel, it’s Wolfgang, it’s Thomas Keller, it’s Mario Batali, it’s Emeril Lagasse, it’s Buddy Valastro. The food and wine program at the Venetian Palazzo is spectacular and the great thing is that you can stay here and don’t need to leave the premises. You’ve got it all here; from entertainment, to shows, to the pool, Canyon Ranch Spa and then the restaurants and nightlife. That’s what is so great.
Can you tell us your three favorite dishes onsite?
That’s a really tough question. The better question is ‘what do you feel like eating today?’ Today, if you feel like eating sushi and sashimi, you go to Samba and you’re going to have a fun experience and the food is going to be great. I adore Sushi Samba food. I think they do such a great job, bringing the culture from Brazil and Japan together, all in one restaurant.
It sounds like a crazy concept but they do it so well and the food is so good. Now, if I’m in the mood to eat a finer steak, I’m going to CUT, and I know I’m going to get one of the greatest steaks. They have the greatest meat but it’s the way they cook it. They’re burning-wood in the kitchen that makes that steak so great. If I feel like having pasta, the best place to go is a Mario Batali restaurant and B&B Ristorante is like the classic Trattoria. They make all the pasta by hand like grandma would make it in Italy.
I can go to Lagasse Stadium and have a BamWich. It’s his signature sandwich there and if you go there during the game, that sandwich is the best. And who can forget about Bouchon. This is what I tell Thomas Keller every time I see him, ‘How can an American chef make better French food than the French people?’ He’s really that good. He really mastered all the techniques. I just take the elevator and go to Bouchon and I eat food as good or better than food I would eat in France. All the breads, danishes, croissants that he bakes are spectacular. Giving you three is really hard because there’s so many that I like around the building.
What’s the process for choosing a new restaurant to represent within the Venetian? Is there a voting process?
We have a president, a corporate team, and an owner who all have a stake in it. I think the first thing to look at is what the customer wants? What are the guests looking for today? We also look at what the guests tell us. Every time they take a survey, they tell us about the dining experience, so they give us feedback. And it’s about looking at what is the new relevant concept out there?
An example of a success story is Yardbird. They just opened here and they were extremely successful in South Beach. I cannot take credit for that opening because my colleagues in corporate brought them here. The restaurants have been doing well. The design is spectacular. Food is simple. It’s a southwest cuisine, but it’s nicely executed. The place is packed all the time. Their bar program is great. They make amazing cocktails. They nailed it.
The next thing we are going to bring here is something that will be very relevant to the marketplace, something the customers are looking for and something new to the city. You need to always reinvent yourself. Our industry has evolved so much. If you looked at Vegas 30 years ago, it was all about the buffet. We don’t have a buffet here. We have the best restaurants, the best chefs, and the best concerts. Our industry evolved; the chefs evolved, cuisine evolved, if you look at food now, it’s more of a world cuisine type of influence. You can see a menu and you can have some Asian inspired dishes like Sushi Samba.
The world is becoming much smaller. Cuisines are becoming more international like it’s never been before. The farm-to-table concept is still really hot. I think every chef today knows that the base for a good cuisine is the products. You need to have the best product. You need to choose the best product. Many chefs are putting a lot of effort into sourcing where they get the food. Every chef grows their own vegetables. They’re going to buy their meat from certain farms and it’s all about having the best products and keeping it simple. And this is not going to go away, this is definitely going to stay.
What’s the ultimate VIP experience you have at the Venetian when it comes to dining?
There’s plenty. It’s great that you asked me this question because just this weekend alone, Mario Batali is checking into the hotel on Thursday and staying until Sunday. We have many different experiences for guests to stay here in our most beautiful suites. For example, you can attend an event called Carnival de Cuisine on Friday evening.
There’s going to be about 2000 people on the pool deck. We have about 30 restaurants from the Venetian Palazzo representing at the event. Everybody’s cooking a dish. We’ll have winery up there. We’ll have five or six liquor brands making cocktail mixology and the guests will be able to mingle from one booth to another and taste all different cuisines. Mario Batali is going to be there to entertain everybody and then after this, we’re going to to do an after party at B&B Burger on the patio, an outdoor party, more exclusive, less people.
The next day, which is Saturday morning, people can go play golf with Mario Batali and his celebrity friends. Mario invited 10 celebrities from New York to spend the weekend with him. On Saturday night Mario is doing a dinner at Carnevino in the Barola (10:49) room and that’s going to be extraordinary. So that’s just one example of a really cool weekend taking place at the Venetian and the great thing about our property is that things like this happen all the time.
At the end of June, we have Thomas Keller coming and he’s doing something at Bouchon and it’s about the summer menu and the summer products. You’re eating in one of the best restaurants and you’re having Thomas Keller cook for you. That’s an extraordinary experience. And then, as you know, last year, you attended it, the Ultimo, which is the crème de la crème of an event. This year we’re going to be putting something together on the map.
How could you top the Ultimo and the truffle theme?
You know, I’ve been doing this for two years so this will be my third year. I definitely want to top it off. It’s making it better and better and better. I cannot tell you what we are going to do this year because we have not announced it yet, but I think it is going to be able to top [it]. I think people will be really pleased again. We have developed a solid brand. That Ultimo thing is really solid and people know that if you attend Ultimo, it’s the ultimate weekend in Las Vegas. And I want to have the most influential and sophisticated people that appreciate dining, food, wine, gaming, shopping, passionate luxury lovers to be around the table because it’s a privilege to sit there.
The lineup of chefs that’s going to be there is extraordinary. We’re going to be flying a lot of talents to be there for the weekend. I’m working with some amazing partners so I can tell you that the beverages, the wine, the cognac, the food, and the chef lineup are going to be extraordinary.
Let’s talk about the cocktail program at the Venetian.
Beverages are like food. The beverage program has evolved too. I think we’ve seen the beverage industry boom and change. There’s some great people in this country that have done some great work and are really changing things up. And now, making a cocktail is like a chef cooking. There’s so much work into what ingredients are being selected; the syrup, the infusions, the work that is being done behind it. My philosophy is that we need to change with the seasons. We cannot have a beverage menu that sits there for twelve months.
That doesn’t work anymore. During the holidays, you need to have holiday drinks and during the spring, you need to have spring beverages. In the month of June, we’re going to do Negroni Week. Then we’re giving back also during Negroni Week because a percentage of the drinks will go to charity, an initiative that we’re doing. Right now, we’re launching the summer menu and it’s all about what are the fruits in season.
And like I said, there are four seasons and four different programs. We look also at surprising your guests because often you look at a cocktail menu and the cocktails are the same from one bar to another. You have a cosmopolitan and you have a martini, so having more creativity and bringing spirits that haven’t been used in a long time and put them back on the map and put a twist on them.
The dark spirits have been coming back, like bourbon, so we’ve been doing a great job at the bourbon room and created some beverages that are really cool using some dark spirits. Yardbird has been doing the same thing, they have been using the dark spirits and doing a really good job. We have some great mixologists and the way it works is; they work on it, they make a presentation on it, we taste, and what we like we move forward with it. This is really how we do this.
What are some of your favorite hotels in the world, other than the Venetian?
I love the Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris. I love it for several reasons. First of all, the location is extraordinary. You’re just so close to everything in Paris, so the address is great and very convenient. And two, the service is beyond good. I think their president, Francois Delahaye is one of the best hoteliers in the world. They have one of the finest restaurants.
Their onsite chef in residence is Alain Ducasse; that’s just a revolution in the industry with this new food concept that they put in there. I was at Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Monaco last week. I think it’s one of the most beautiful hotels in the world. When you get into Eden Roc and you walk down and you see the ocean views. I used to work at the Lanesborough Hotel in London when I was younger. Those are some of my favorites for sure.
If money was no object, what would be your top three cars?
The AMG is an amazing car. I love it because it’s retro, classic, and new. The line and power are extraordinary. The best car to drive on the track is the 458 Ferrari Italia in my opinion. It’s an amazing machine and it’s not a car you drive everyday, but a car to put on the track. It’s probably one of the best ones out there. The Aston Martin Vanquish is one of my favorites too and my favorite convertible right now. I love the way it drives, it’s pretty awesome.
What is your definition of luxury?
It can be plenty of things, it can be an experience so exclusive, so unique, and it can apply to anything. I think it’s an experience reserved to a few. I think that it is something that is unique. When we talk about luxury here, and we have one of the greatest luxury resorts, it’s not only about having the greatest products, it’s not only about having the large suites, it’s about every single guest that comes here we give them the experience of a lifetime, and I think that is luxury. And that applies to designer suits, to a luxury car, it’s an experience. When you sit behind the wheel of a 458, the experience is extraordinary. That’s what luxury is, it’s an experience that is very, very special.