Chef Joël Robuchon had a reputation for exquisitely prepared dishes that demanded nothing less than perfection. When he died in August at age 73, the chef left behind a legacy of Michelin stars around the world and two restaurants in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand, including his namesake — the crown jewel in the Robuchon kingdom.
Leading the team at the Vegas townhouse that is home to Robuchon’s multi-course degustation menus, roving carts of breads and sweets, and attention to the smallest of details is executive chef Christophe de Lellis.
“If one step of the mise en place is the wrong size, doesn’t cook properly, or doesn’t taste properly, it can really give us a hard time with the service,” de Lellis says as his crew works on new dishes that will debut in the upcoming weeks. Days start at 8:30 a.m., with the kitchen team working in silence to prepare for the evening and test out different recipes.
One, a whole duck stuffed with foie gras, took about two weeks to perfect. “We finally mastered it,” says de Lellis, talking about how the glaze needed small tweaks before it was ready to join the menu. “Everything from cutting a radish or chive has to be perfect.”
Robuchon’s most famous dish, his pommes puree, requires three chefs to remove the skin while the potatoes are still hot and then rice them before butter, butter, and more butter joins and milk in a silky smooth mashed potato rendition. The recipe, on the Robuchon menu for more than 30 years, is often the highlight of the meal for diners who sometimes request a second helping after dessert.