Las Vegas Weekly

November 7, 2013

Las Vegas Weekly

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Grilled Octopus from Morocco Organic lemons and parsley from California Estiatorio Milos house extra virgin olive oil from Greece Capers from Greece Grilled Tsipoura from Greece Langoustines from Scotland Hand-shoveled salt from Kythira Island in Greece Virginia, Delaware and the Gulf Coast, and supplying 30 grocery stores and dozens of restaurants across the country with up to 15 varieties of fish and shellfish, including 15,000 pounds of crab per week. Locally, they supply eateries like Honey Salt and Carnevino, as well as their own Crab Corner. Like Milos, Nevada Seafood Wholesalers is a roundthe-clock operation—the Smolens estimate an 18-hour sea-to-plate turnaround—with high costs and high risks. Flights alone cost $25,000 monthly, and profits are constantly at the whim of weather and public perception. "It is masochistic," John says. "Lucky for us, there's not much we love more than fresh Maryland crab." For the restaurants that buy exotic seafood and other ingredients, sourcing has become essential to stand out among the competition. "You have to do it. We spend a tremendous amount of time focused on sourcing our different items," says Wynn Corporate Executive Chef David Snyder. He estimates that a quarter of Wynn's 4,000-line-item inventory is uniquely or regionally sourced, with products ranging from Ohmi beef from Japan's Shiga 14-15_Feature_Dining_20131107.indd 15 Prefecture to Scottish salmon from the Shetland Isles. "Chefs started to realize, 'I can buy the same product as [my competitor], but how am I going to lure more people into my venue?' Tying back to where a product comes from lets you tell a story at the end of the day to your customers. As diners become more knowledgeable, they want to know how their food happened." Telling that story has become particularly tricky for Vegas chefs, as coastal suppliers have been tapped by restaurants closer to home and sourcing has grown fiercely competitive. Some chefs seek out premium vendors, like Wagyu cattle ranchers in small Japanese villages, and build longstanding relationships to guarantee exclusive access to a product. "Beef wars" have begun, in which chefs make highvolume orders of steak and other products to purposely create shortages for their competitors, and the same tactic is carrying over to products like seafood, exacerbating the issue of overfishing. For restaurants like Milos, sustainability is as essential to survival as the quality of the food. Though Milos orders conservatively and according to seasonal availability, using strictly line-caught fish from small-operation fishermen, Georgiadis admits that finding certain species is already becoming difficult. And as the practice of sourcing becomes more common, such issues are likely to increase. Snyder says shipment, quantity and other regulations will have to become part of the process to ensure a wide variety of ingredients on dinner plates for today's eaters and the next generation. "We're far from a saturation point, but I think as people become more educated [sourcing] will kind of become second nature and fade into the background," Snyder says. "From the chef to the service staff to the guest, there's a respect for the product that trickles down." Back at Milos, the philosophy behind sourcing is less about keeping up with trends than it is about simple quality. "Why go so far? Because it's better," Georgiadis says. "Because this is how we know how to do it. Good ingredients, good food, it doesn't need any help." –Andrea Domanick 11/6/13 1:23 PM

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