Scott Commings | Interview
Emerging From Hell’s Kitchen
With his boyhood spent on a Wisconsin dairy farm and his young adulthood in culinary school, it’s hardly surprising that manhood led Scott Commings to be an executive chef in locations far and wide. But that his title crowned him the Season 12 winner of the pop-culture reality cooking show Hell’s Kitchen was a little less than than a foregone conclusion.
Commings—whose personal gastronomical passions lie in organic produce, sustainable farming and knowing personally the artisanal producers of the seasonal ingredients he tries so hard to use—has called his taking the top Hell’s Kitchen prize as “grueling,” yet it paid off in his latest post as Head Chef of Gordon Ramsay’s Pub and Grill at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
“Scott won because he has all the qualities I’m looking for in a head chef,” said Gordon Ramsay in a Sept. 10, 2014 article on EaterVegas.com. “He is passionate, determined, and a true leader. He’s an artist plating food and has a phenomenal palate.”
Want to see for yourself? Head over to his pub (reservations strongly recommended, Natch). Until then, read what Commings shared with DLXVRSN magazine about what it’s like to cook in Vegas, and who really wears the chefs’ jacket at home.
We know you haven’t been here that long, but what has surprised you most about chefs in Las Vegas? The sheer volume of talented individuals [and] not only on the Strip. Incredible locations are popping up all over this area. We are very lucky to have such artisans.
When Gordon visits, is it “business as usual” or “watch out!”? In the kitchen it is business as usual, with our standard quality. I’d be lying if I didn’t say things just may “tighten” up a bit. Now, in the dining room it is a mad house every time he comes around. Guests are so excited to see him, as we employees are, as well.
“I am not so much of a sweet lover so I look to the savory, salty desserts…”
Any unique culinary requests at the restaurant so far? I have been in the business for quite some time and have seen most of the out-of-the-ordinary requests. What really is surprising is all of the dietary/food allergies. It is something we see in this business all of the time. It is very concerning, and makes us create around those needs.
The pub serves some 1,500 customers a day. How do you balance the special requests from your Hell’s Kitchen fans to visit their tables while running a tight ship in the kitchen? Any successful restaurant begins with an incredible staff. We are so lucky at Caesars to have such talented and passionate individuals who love what they do. So even when I am away from the kitchen, the other chefs [give me] complete confidence in the operations.
Dessert: As a chef, is it required or optional when you’re out on the town? I wouldn’t say “required”; however, I am always looking for that perfect dessert for myself. I am not so much of a sweet lover so I look to the savory, salty desserts [like] salted caramel, chilies and chocolate, and great cheeses and fresh fruits.
–Jen Chase, with reporting by Tyra Bell Holland
[Read the full feature in our online issue below…]