It was executive chef Darren Brown’s “coming out” party.
The former personal chef to movie mogul Merv Griffin is ready to completely makeover his new home at the Aubergine Grille at the Westin.
After overseeing culinary operations of 1.8 million sq. ft. event space, in room dining for 5,500 rooms and more than 20 restaurants at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, nothing daunts this man with a mission, not even a close friend’s advice not to take the executive chef position at the Grille.
If you can’t beat him, join them as the saying goes, and not only has Brown moved himself and his pregnant wife all the way from Sin City to our mountain resort town, but he has also recruited the same naysayer to work by his side as sous chef.
This guy can make a believer out of anyone – even myself.
Other than their legendary breakfast buffets, my limited experience at the Aubergine Grille in the past was rather bland. I never dined there outside of invites.
After reading Brown’s extensive kitchen credits – he sailed the seven seas as Merv Griffin’s personal chef, cooked for red carpet royalty such as Michael Douglas and Stefano Gabbana, and was recruited by famed Michelin Three-Star Chef Alain Ducasse –I was intrigued, not to mention hopeful such a superstar could turn it around, so I accepted an invitation to his “coming out” media dinner.
Exhausted from my Cornucopia marathon and the subsequent growing piles of work hiding any traces of my desktop, I checked into the Westin for dinner and dreams.
Within five minutes of checking into my room, I was bikini-clad and steaming away my to-do list in the resort’s outdoor hot tub. Heaven: cool rain falling above, cozy warm bubbles below.
I folded up in a fluffy hotel robe and returned to sit in front of my room’s fireplace. I threw caution to the wind and popped open a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne for one and sat down to the petit fours chocolate platter Brown had sent up earlier. I’m sure this was meant for after dinner, but Brown should know better than to taunt a girl with beautifully crafted dark chocolate.
What I love about hotels and good food is there are no distractions and you are forced to relax regardless of whether you are willing or not.
Only an elevator ride away, I actually arrived on time for dinner –there was no message machine to check and still in a wonderful bubbles and fireside haze, Brown already had the advantage in his court.