I learned to cook in Las Vegas

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I’ve always loved food, but I learned to truly understand it in Las Vegas. I was surrounded by the best of the best – I began to study the restaurant menus, seek out the chefs – both known and unknown, read cookbooks like novels, and try my best hand at cooking. To this day, I credit Las Vegas for my appreciation of food, and Ina Garden and Giada DeLaurentis on the Food Network for teaching me how to cook – something I now do passionately. When I heard Giada was opening a restaurant in Las Vegas, I was thrilled.

Classically Italian with California influences, the sophisticatedly elegant Giada’s at the Cromwell is the hottest kid on the block.  Neutral shades grace the restaurant which is drenched in natural light due to the huge retractable windows. The restaurant is across the street from Caesars Palace with incredible views of the Las Vegas Strip, Caesars Palace and the Bellagio Fountains.

Giada’s is also the perfect restaurant for group dining. Group of up to 150 can be can be seated in the main dining room which includes Al Fresco dining, or in the private dining room which holds up to 20 guests. A second private dining room holding upwards of 75 diners will be completed in early 2015.

The night I dined at Giada’s I started with a glass of Prosecco followed by crostini with fresh ricotta, honey, lemon and pink peppercorn and a pizzette with wood roasted mushrooms. Both dishes were executed perfectly and offered the perfect accompaniment to my glass of bubbly. Next was an arugula salad with candied lemon, crispy pancetta and parmigiano-reggiano. Light and satisfying with the play on sweet and salty between the candied lemon and salty pancetta.   For my entree, I of course tried her infamous lemon spaghetti with basil and shrimp. The dish is a Giada classic and is refreshing, bright, seasoned to perfection and oh so satisfying.

If you are so inclined…

Lemon Spaghetti

2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup lemon juice (from two lemons)
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 pound spaghetti
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from two lemons)

In a large bowl, whisk the oil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper to blend. Set the lemon sauce aside (the sauce can be made up to eight hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using).

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about eight minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the spaghetti to the lemon sauce, and toss with the basil and lemon zest. Toss the pasta with enough reserved cooking liquid, 1/4 cup at a time, to moisten. Season the pasta with more salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to bowls and serve immediately.

To me, dining at Giada’s was a special night. I was experiencing and eating the food of a woman chef who I greatly admire and who inspired me to learn to cook.

Director of Creative Services