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Chef Q&A: Bugsy & Meyer’s Lamar Moore

Last updated: September 11, 2020 at 2:28 pm. Posted by in Las Vegas Restaurants. Comments Off on Chef Q&A: Bugsy & Meyer’s Lamar Moore.

Vegas Chef Prizefight winner Lamar Moore

Vegas Chef Prizefight winner Lamar Moore. Photo courtesy of Food Network.

Vegas Chef Prizefight Winner Q&A with Lamar Moore

Chef Lamar Moore took on seven other chefs in Food Network’s Vegas Chef Prizefight earlier this year and came out on top. The prize? Heading up Flamingo‘s hot new steakhouse, Bugsy & Meyer’s.

We had the chance to talk with the Chicago-based chef, his culinary and mentoring background, plans for the restaurant, his favorite guilty pleasure treat and more.

First of all, how are you doing during all this? 

I’m doing great. I’m blessed to be able to do everything I want to do on a daily basis, to continue to cook, to continue to mentor, and to work with an awesome company like Caesars Entertainment.

You won this competition in a strange time, to put it lightly. How has this affected the opening of Bugsy & Meyer’s?

Yes, this is been a very strange time. We were supposed to open Bugsy and Meyer’s back in March, but due to the pandemic, we were held off until June. But winning a competition has been awesome.

I think I visit an average of 15 to 20 tables a night. We haven’t fully been able to pack the restaurant like we want to or have table service and I was so focused on the speakeasy… so we’ve have been taking it day by day and taking care of the guests just one table at a time.

All things considered, it could be worse and we have been very fortunate to be in a great spot to where we do have guests come in on a day-to-day basis and having really good feedback over the last two months.

Tell me a bit about approach when you’re starting at a new restaurant. 

My approach to opening a restaurant is looking at the menu mechanics, seeing what people like, what they don’t like, touching the table… seeing how many locals and non-locals we have. I’m looking at the type of steaks we sell, for example, we sell quite a bit of 8-ounce fillets on a nightly basis, so seems to be the thing here in Vegas.

We also want to make sure that the menu is very versatile and it has a wide range of different types of entrées. Recently over the last two weeks, we decided to add a vegan/vegetarian menu to give other options for guests that don’t eat meat or seafood

One other approach is knowing that we are a steak restaurant, we take pride in our seafood program to be just as good as our steaks. We also pride ourselves on having and making the freshest product possible and using local purveyors as much as possible

We have taken out a lot of time training our staff over and over because there is nothing like having great food with great service. Being in Vegas, there are quite a few steakhouses and we want to be able to represent Flamingo and also Caesars Entertainment by offering different experiences and food.

Flamingo's Bugsy & Meyer's traditional steaks in Las Vegas

Some of the traditional steakhouse fare you’ll find at Bugsy & Meyer’s. Photo by Anthony Mair, courtesy of Caesars Entertainment.

What are your biggest plans for Bugsy & Meyers? What’s your wildest dream for the place? 

My biggest plan for Bugsy Meyer’s is to be the best steakhouse in Vegas and if not in the United States. I feel like our program is very different from others: We have a very talented culinary and food and beverage team, we have spent over $10 million in renovating the space and … we will continue to change and evolve to a different culinary space that gives guests so many different views when they dine in at the restaurant.

There are lots of guests who have watched a show and ask about my award-winning fried chicken recipe and hot sauce, so maybe some point down the line the fried chicken will either be a secret menu or on the menu and possibly hot sauce will [be for sale.]

What do you think of the Vegas dining scene? 

I have had a small bird’s eye view of the Vegas dining scene, just due to the limitations of where we are right now as a country, but I will tell you that even within those limitations, I have found some great food on the Strip to almost 20 to 30 miles away from the Strip.

What’s impressive is it was after midnight. To be able to go to a restaurant or a space and sit down [for] dinner at almost 3 a.m., as if dining in a restaurant at 5 p.m…. I think it’s amazing. The service at some of these places goes hand-in-hand with the food and beverage.

Vegas also carries an immense amount of culinary talents here and I’m excited to be a part of it

It’s an understatement to say that you’ve worked all over the place. Tell me a bit about your culinary influences and how they show up on the Bugsy & Meyer’s menu. 

I have worked in quite a few places. Some of my history ranges from steak and seafood.

When you look at the menu, my chimichurri is my time spent in California, the ceviche is my time spent working for Gastón Acurio, who is a Peruvian chef. When you look at our culinary team with our executive chef and our executive sous chef, their experiences range close to mine, which gives us a very well rounded culinary team.

I’ve seen that representation is very important to you and you’ve also done mentoring work. Can you tell me a bit about that? 

Representation and mentoring are very, very important to me. I grew up without a lot of leadership and through my culinary career, I was mentored by many different chefs who understood my passion, my fire, and my desire to be a chef.

I have spent over 20 years working with the National Restaurant Association being a judge for culinary events, visiting schools, doing cooking demos, speaking engagement, assisting in scholarships.

When I was going to culinary school, I didn’t have money to go to school. My mom was able to step in and be a big support. I think the more we mentor, the more we create a bigger brigade. We can keep this industry going.

My time as a young culinarian was spent in Chicago, where mentoring is very huge and needed especially from the tough communities that I grew up in and where I see a lot a youth and both younger and older adults needing help

My heart and my roots are deeply embedded in the city of Chicago and also my tenure in California, which allowed me to be a well-rounded chef…. without mentoring, I would not be in the position that I am now, as a chef that I am, and as the man that I am.

Do you have any words for those aspiring chefs who might not necessarily feel like they have a place in the industry?

My advice for aspiring chefs is the buddy system. Find a buddy, allow them to be your shoulder to lean on, allow them to be your guide, your help, your friend and vice versa.

Sometimes, we get so caught up in the moment of being great chefs that we forget that when we are done, we are just as human as the next person. We hurt, we cry, we feel, we miss, we run off of pure adrenaline and we need those outlets so that we can continue to be a better chef and better people.

Flamingo's Bugsy & Meyer's seafood tower in Las Vegas

A seafood tower worth climbing. Photo by Anthony Mair, courtesy of Caesars Entertainment.

What’s your favorite guilty pleasure meal? Why? 

Haha! My favorite guilty pleasure is mixing peanut butter with Nutella. As chefs, we are so busy all the time it’s very difficult to sit down and enjoy your meal and we’re always looking for something quick to eat.

Nutella and peanut butter are my two favorite things because I love chocolate and peanut butter. I enjoy sweets so most of the time when I get off work, so I’m usually mixing the two in the bowl with either saltine crackers or graham crackers.

With so many people staying in at home, what’s one tip you’d have for stepping up your at-home cooking? 

I would say a tip for cooking at home is to become a master of the grill. There’s nothing like being able to grill and sear a perfect steak on cast-iron or roast a chicken in the oven and perfecting that nicely sautéed asparagus. I definitely enjoy cooking in my home.

One other thing is becoming a better expert in shopping for fresh products. One of the tricks that I tell family and friends is that grocery stores restock on Wednesday nights, so Thursday morning, you have fresh product going into the weekend. Those are the better days to shop. Fun fact!

Here are some other restaurants in Las Vegas that may interest you if you find yourself looking around for something that suits your cravings.

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About The Author

Jorge has been writing in Las Vegas for about a decade, covering a mix of entertainment, nightlife and travel offerings for publications like Best of Las Vegas, Las Vegas Weekly, Los Angeles Times and Louisville Voice-Tribune. In his spare time, he's traveling, at pub trivia or not playing his stack of video games.

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