Curiosity Expert: Alessandro Stratta

posted: 05/23/12
Alessandro Stratta
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Alessandro Stratta
Courtesy of Alessandro Stratta

Award-winning Chef Alessandro Stratta showcases his talents at Wynn Las Vegas as executive chef of two namesake restaurants: ALEX, featuring Modern French cuisine and Stratta, an Italian-American restaurant.

ALEX has been awarded two stars in the 2008 and 2009 Las Vegas Michelin Guide and is one of only 14 restaurants in North America to receive this distinction. In 2005, ALEX was selected as one of the "Best New Restaurants in America" by Esquire magazine and in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 it was recognized by AAA as a Five-Diamond restaurant and by Forbes (formerly Mobil) travel guide as a Five-Star restaurant, one of only two in Las Vegas.

"I am delighted to have such consistent success at Wynn," says Stratta. "Their commitment to excellence is unparalleled in this industry and I am so fortunate to be part of the team. Having the opportunity to work with two unique restaurants has allowed me to grow as a chef and cook the food that I have always wanted to."

The menu at ALEX presents the refined cuisine of various regions in France, enhanced by only the finest and freshest ingredients. In an undeniably elegant setting, ALEX also extends genuine hospitality, reflecting the chef's commitment to offering guests the ultimate in gracious dining. In addition to his impressive seasonal menus, Stratta offers a truly sophisticated vegetable tasting menu and another centered around the great wines of France.

The chef demonstrates his mastery of classic Italian-American fare at Stratta, a casual, yet vibrant restaurant located off Wynn's "theater row." The selection of homemade pastas, wood-oven pizzas and rustic meat dishes offer guests an enjoyable meal in a welcoming, fun and stylish setting. Stratta's traditional menu, a departure from the refined cuisine for which he is known, offers an approachable array of familiar and ingredient-focused Italian comfort food.

Stratta came to Wynn Las Vegas from Renoir at the Mirage Hotel and Casino where he received national acclaim for his world-class menu and innovative approach to cuisine distinguished by a one-of-a-kind marriage of regional French and Italian ingredients. In just four months Renoir received Mobil's highest Five-Star rating, one of only 14 restaurants in the U.S. to be awarded this honor. During his six-year tenure at Renoir, the restaurant maintained its Mobil Five-Star stature as well as garnering AAA's Five-Diamond award and Las Vegas's top culinary rating in the Zagat Guide.

From a long line of restaurateurs and hoteliers, Stratta has continued the family tradition, becoming the fifth generation to be involved in the culinary industry. He has lived in the finest hotels throughout the world and found his calling at a very early age. After several years working in hotel kitchens, Stratta decided to pursue his dreams by enrolling in the prestigious California Culinary Academy. During this time he was given the opportunity to work in one of San Francisco's finest hotels, the Stanford Court Hotel. Under the guidance of Pastry Chef Jim Dodge, Stratta refined and perfected his skills in the art of baking and pastry. After graduating with high honors, he decided to pursue his passion and strive to reach the top of his profession.

In the summer of 1986, Stratta had the opportunity to work under Chef Alain Ducasse as a member of the staff opening the Louis XV at the Hotel de Paris in Monaco. It was here that Stratta was introduced to the highest level of passion, dedication and discipline for one's craft, and he attained goals he had never previously imagined.

After two formative and inspiring years in the Louis XV kitchen, Stratta longed to return to the U.S. and was sent by Ducasse to work under Daniel Boulud at New York's famous Le Cirque restaurant.

At Le Cirque, Stratta was able to apply his new-found knowledge of refined cuisine and elevate it to an entirely new level. In the high-pressure kitchen of Le Cirque, he also developed management and organizational skills that would further round out his talents. After moving up quickly in Boulud's kitchen, Stratta was presented with the opportunity to assume his first executive chef position.

At the young age of 24, he was chosen to head Mary Elaine's, a gourmet restaurant at the new world class Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. After two years of dedication, Stratta established Mary Elaine's as one of the premier dining destinations in the Southwest. In 1992, the James Beard Foundation named the restaurant a "Top Dining Destination," and Stratta was chosen as America's top hotel chef. Seeking a new challenge, Stratta was promoted to executive chef of the resort, and once again received Mobil's Five-Star award.

Realizing that he was much happier in the kitchen rather than being an executive chef, Stratta asked to return to the helm of Mary Elaine's and in 1998 received the Best Chef: Southwest award by the James Beard Foundation.

"I originally chose to come to Las Vegas because a real opportunity exists to provide people with a fine dining experience," comments Stratta. "There is a certain excitement in this city not found anywhere else. People come here to have fun and celebrate, and there is no better way to showcase a restaurant."

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