VEGAS RESTAURANT ROUNDUP: Six Las Vegas Chefs Make James Beard Award Semifinals, Jon Favreau Parks Food Truck at Park MGM

Posted on: January 24, 2024, 03:03h. 

Last updated on: January 25, 2024, 12:11h.

Six Las Vegas chefs have been named semifinalists in the 2024 James Beard Foundation Awards. The organizers of the nation’s most prestigious culinary recognition announced their picks on Wednesday.

Oscar Amador, Chef at Anima by EDO at The Gramercy Residences
Oscar Amador, Chef at Anima by EDO at The Gramercy Residences, will compete for Outstanding Chef in the James Beard Foundation Awards’ prestigious national category. (Image: Vegas Travel News)

In the most esteemed national categories, Chef Oscar Amador of Anima by EDO at The Gramercy Residences will compete for Outstanding Chef. Kimmie and Josh Mcintosh of MILKFISH Bakeshop, a pop-up bakery, were recognized for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker.

Rounding out the semifinalists are Steve Kestler of Aroma Latin American Cocina in Henderson, DJ Flores of Milpa in Spring Valley, and Brian Howard of Sparrow + Wolf in Spring Valley, all of whom were nominated as Best Chef in the Southwest category.

Finalists in all restaurant and chef categories will be announced on April 3. Winners will be revealed at a ceremony on June 10 in Chicago. For the full list of 2024 semifinalists, click here.

Jon Favreau and Roy Choi have parked their Chef Truck off Park MGM’s casino floor. (Image: MGM Resorts)

Jon Favreau Brings ‘Chef’ Truck to Vegas, Baby!

Jon Favreau, whose script for the movie Swingers has done more for Vegas tourism since 1996 than all 10 Formula 1 races probably will, has brought the food truck from another of his movies, 2014’s Chef, to life and Vegas.

Thanks to assistance from Favreau’s mentor, friend, and costar, LA chef Roy Choi, Chef Truck now sits off Park MGM’s casino floor, not far from Choi’s Best Friend eatery.

If you enjoyed seeing Favreau and Choi prepare and serve Cubano sandwiches, pasta aglio e olio, and Yucca fries in the movie, now you can smell and taste them, too, though other people’ll prepare them.

Dining Ins & Outs

A trio of major restaurant closures gives new meaning to “ring out the old.” Stack permanently closed at The Mirage on November 15. And the fact that nobody in the Las Vegas media noticed until now may attest to its problems generating new excitement. The steakhouse replaced Moongate, the casino resort’s original Chinese restaurant, in 2006.

also quietly closed on January 8 after 16 years at Planet Hollywood. Caviar Bar at Resorts World is rebranding to Aqua Seafood & Caviar Restaurant.

Finally, Mitsuo Endo closed his Sweets Raku dessert spot and debuted Casa de Raku, a tapas and wine bar, in the same Chinatown location. Its menu offers seafood, meat, pastries, and drinks inspired by Spain.