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Culinary Travel

Inside the Las Vegas Foodie & Craft Cocktail Scene

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Chef Matthias Merges with Peter Greenberg

Las Vegas has long been established as a leading travel destination for those who love the vibrant night life, but recently, the city has also established a major culinary scene, rivaling New York, Chicago, and others for its innovative cuisine.

Peter Greenberg recently sat down with Chef Matthias Merges and Mixologist Craig Schoettler to discuss the ever-changing Las Vegas scene, and what patrons are looking for in dishes and cocktails. Keep reading to discover what Peter learned from Merges and Schoettler, and click here to listen to Peter Greenberg’s Travel Today podcast.

Chef Matthias Merges of Yusho at the Monte Carlo is a transplant from Chicago who works on bringing together Asian techniques with an American spin; a signature dish at Yusho is fried chicken with a salted chili sauce.

The idea behind the fusion, he says, is not to stay completely loyal to Asian or to American cuisine, but to just have fun and bring new flavors to the recipes.

Image Credit: Yelp Reviewer Keno Z.

Image Credit: Yelp Reviewer Keno Z.

A recent standout at the restaurant is Logan Poser Ramen, a mix of noodles, pork, eggs, and spices that the chef himself didn’t expect to succeed. But it became a big seller.

Along with the flare for fusion, Merges also says the culinary scene in Las Vegas is focusing more and more on the ingredients. Farmers market materials are the key to attracting customers, and the interest in local ingredients has increased in the past few years. Ingredients that cannot be acquired in Las Vegas are brought in from California.

The trend of local products is not exclusive to the food; Mixologist Craig Schoettler of the ARIA Resort in Las Vegas, describes a new type of foodie that focuses on drinks: he calls them the Bar Flies.

Mixologist Craig Schoettler

Mixologist Craig Schoettler

Generally, he says, customers are more and more interested in where the ingredients are coming from and how the drinks are made. Consequently, Schoettler and others at ARIA make an effort to make as many syrups, juices, purees, and other ingredients right in the bar, to ensure their flavors are as fresh as possible.

Additionally, ARIA has kept the classic Martini—its signature cocktail—relevant by allowing patrons to craft the drink with their choice of vermouth and more than 40 different kinds of vodka.

They’ve also recently contracted a brewer from Baltimore to make beers available exclusively at ARIA in styles that fit what a customer in Vegas looks for: crisp, light, and refreshing, as opposed to dark and hoppy, is better for a city that spends many of its days over 100 degrees.

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By Jessica Hobbs for PeterGreenberg.com

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