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John Schenk Delivers the Bare Goods

  • John Schenk of Strip House, Las Vegas
by TripAtlas.com
From Food + Drink
March 2, 2011

The word "strip" is synonymous with Las Vegas, Nevada. Of course there's the iconic Vegas Strip and its 4.2 miles of neon signs, glitz and glamorous resorts. But strip may also refer to the particular brand of entertainment preferred by many a visitor to the aptly-named City of Sin.

While any food is usually to be avoided in most establishments with the noun (or verb) strip in their names, this is anything but the case with Strip House. Celebrity chef John Schenk's Manhattan-inspired steak house is located (surprise, surprise) on the Vegas strip within Planet Hollywood Resort and delivers some seriously large cuts of top quality beef broiled to utter perfection.

A native of Buffalo, New York, Schenk followed his culinary dreams across the state (by way of San Francisco, France and Kenya) to the bright lights and sophisticated palates of New York City in 1987. It was here that he became executive sous chef at Gotham Bar and Grill - a position he cites as being instrumental in nurturing his own personal cooking style and philosophy.  From Gotham he oversaw the kitchens at West Broadway, mad.61, Monkey Bar and more before being hired by the Glazier Group to supervise the kitchens of Strip House.

Along with your steak, try Schenk's sumptuous black truffle creamed spinach, indulgent goose fat potatoes and finish off with a chocotastic slice of 24 layer chocolate cake! The red and gold interiors of the restaurant are adorned with photos of 1900's Vienna showgirls in continuity with the restaurant's rather risqué moniker.

So leave that stack of crisp one dollar bills at home and experience the mouth-watering high-end flesh on display for your tasting enjoyment at Strip House.

TripAtlas.com had the honour of asking this highly- acclaimed chef a few questions as the next entry into our series on the Celebrity chefs of Las Vegas:

What's your full name?

John Schenk

How long have you been a chef?

36 years

What's your first 'food' memory?

My family made sauerkraut for a living when I was born...so it was always around. The very first thing I remember is Sauerkraut Pirogues being eaten with Fried Chicken Tails (I swear to god that's how we ate)

Where was your last big gig before Strip House and what was your role?

Executive Chef at Nectar restaurant at Bellagio

If you're not dining at your establishment Strip House - what would you recommend as the next best eatery on the Vegas strip?

Guy Savoy at Caesar's Palace

What's the best dish you've ever tried?

Caldo Gallego: Beans, Chorizo and Collard Greens...Enough said.

What's the ultimate hangover meal in Vegas? Where can you find it, and why?

Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs at Tiffany Diner at the White Pharmacy on Las Vegas Blvd just past the Stratosphere.

What do you consider the top 5 ingredients every top chef must keep stocked in their kitchen?

Garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Dijon Mustard, Lemons, Cajun Seasoning/Tapatio Hot Sauce

What would you deem the latest food trend in North America?

Sous Vide...going to be everywhere all the time

If the world was invaded by aliens and you were forced to choose your last meal on Earth - What would it be?

West Coast Elkhorn Oysters on the Half Shell, Caesar Salad made in a seasoned wooden bowl, Sautéed Foie Gras  a la Orange, A8+ Kobe  Strip Loin, French Fries, Roasted Cauliflower with Black Truffle Butter, Rocky Road Ice Cream ( a lot of it)...

Do you have any food heroes you look up to?

Jean Georges Vongerichten, lots of skills and can work in both big and small places, Patricia Unterman of Hayes Street Grill, passionate food person who gave a kid a break when he really needed one, Alfred Portale who showed me how to drive a Cadillac restaurant and then gave me the keys.

What are your food hang-ups? (Ie: Things people do, preparing items incorrectly, etc).

I hate eggs so anything that has a visible egg that isn't scrambled is not going to work for me. Chefs who have lost perspective and believe their press. I always think back to the parades in Ancient Rome where perspective was institutionalized

If you could choose any four dining companions in the world (besides your family), who would they be and why?

Barak Obama because he saved the world as we know it. My life depends on the secondary spending of others and that was looking extremely dodgy at that cross roads

Brian Williams: Informed, funny, self-deprecating

John Stewart: A funnier Chris Mathews .Will probably help carry the conversation

Angelina Jolie: Smart, beautiful and way out of my league

Do you have any expert advice for someone that wants to follow a culinary career in the Las Vegas region?

Take the lowest paying job in a great restaurant and squeeze every bit of knowledge out of the place. Don't worry about the ratio of hours to net dollars. You have nothing but time so spend it cooking. And try to work as a cook at the busiest diner you can find. If you love cooking after that, you will have the line skills and people skills to succeed.

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Check out the website for information on the other five Strip House locations outside of Vegas: New York, NY; Livingston, NJ; Key west, FL; Naples, FL; and Houston, TX.

For more information on this and other great restaurants, go to: http://www.visitlasvegas.com/

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Located: Toronto Canada
Website: http://www.tripatlas.com

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