Seeing Silverton executive chef Chris Fearnow seated on a Harley gives the feel of Breaking Bad’s Walter White and how he professed cooking crystal meth “because he loved it.”
“I never cooked crystal meth and I don’t want people to fear me,” Fearnow said with a laugh outside his signature restaurant Twincreeks. “But if we made the attempt, it would be gourmet.”
And that’s the attitude you come away with after talking to the man who first became a chef in Las Vegas in 1976 out of the famed Nat Hart School of Cooking at Caesars Palace.
“Nat was at the Sands for many years and I learned a lot from his style of cooking when working for the Mirage Corporation and opening places at the Bellagio and Mandalay Bay,” Fearnow said. “You have to know your demographics. You can’t serve French food where barbeque is a better fit.”
Fearnow could wear many hats other than chef. He may resemble “Heisenberg” with that shaved head, but there is nothing breaking badly about his passion for making absolutely sure his customers get exactly what they pay for from his cooking.
“I could be a bouncer at Pier 6, but really I wear many hats,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a 98 cent hot dog or a $300 steak. If you bite into it and like it, we’re doing our job.”
Fearnow has a staff of 200 and his chefs make sure to stop by the tables and engage guests during the meals to find out if they are enjoying themselves or finding any fault with their order.
“If there is an issue we want to fix it right there rather than when they go home and we find out through social networking that they had a bad experience,” he said. “It’s all about the guests. If they like a certain recipe we’re trying, then we stay with it.”
Fearnow can cook anything, whether it’s Mediterranean, Mandarin or northern Italian as he was groomed to do in learning his craft. And then for simple-meat-and-potatoes people like myself, he can satisfy us with the finest in steaks.
At Twincreeks, which opened with Fearnow in charge at Silverton in 2005, diners prefer Prime Rib Wednesdays and the 50 percent off Happy Hour discounts twice nightly (5-6 p.m. and 9-10 p.m.).
“We as chefs are leaders, and I am in charge,” Fearnow said. “This is our signature restaurant with an excellent wine list, lamb chops, sushi, oysters Rockefeller and potatoes run through our food mill. Here there is no bureaucracy of red tape. Chefs want their finger print on their menu.”
Fearnow ran the food program at Green Valley Ranch for 8½ years prior to his current stint at Silverton. The two venues have different tastes.
“I liked them both, but here we have more freedom as cooks to create,” he said. “Our team here are family. We spend 8, 10, 14 hours a day together. There is great camaraderie. Great passion makes great leaders.”
And the results are a great place to dine for a resort that knows how to treat its local customers.
“No, there is nothing to fear here,” Fearnow said. “I will wear my chef’s hat and cook the best Strip meal at stripped down prices.”
Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].