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Christophe Tassan discovers another America

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MIX in Las Vegas

The only ‘MOF’ (one of France’s finest artisans) in the sommelier category to have settled abroad, he discovers in Las Vegas a new professional dimension working for MIX, the Michelin-starred restaurant that caters for the largest number of covers in the world.

MIX in Las Vegas is located on the top floor of the ‘The Hotel’, a kind of glamorous annex to the ‘Mandalay Bay’. Christophe Tassan came to work here about a year ago, joining the staff of one of the establishments to which Alain Ducasse brings his name and the skill of his teams. Christophe Tassan, from the Côtes du Rhône area, won his ‘MOF’ title in 2004 in Toulouse and a year later was shutting his suitcases and setting off to discover the New World. “I gained my initial experience in Philadelphia, working alongside Geroges Perrier, a chef of strong character who owns several establishments, including a gastronomic restaurant where I was able to express myself fully as a sommelier and also discover the American style of management. I had the opportunity to get to know wines of this continent, even though French production at that time represented 60% of references on the wine list...”
Moving from Pennsylvania to Nevada, Christophe Tassan has not only changed import regulations for wines, but also discovered a restaurant with an extremely contemporary decor, a new style of cuisine and a constantly changing cellar, where French wines represent no more than a quarter of total volume. “We are a restaurant with a French identity, but the cuisine is open to the whole world. The suggestions we can make are therefore very different to those on the East Coast. Priority goes to Californian red wines. Next come sales of wine by the glass, which represent the second volume. Last on the podium are champagne sales, thanks to the lounge bar which is the first stage for customers when they come to our restaurant.”
Although his first task was to thoroughly modify the organisation of the wine list, Christophe Tassan then learned to work with an international team, because three of the sommeliers under his orders come from very different horizons: a Bulgarian, a Swede and an American ...well, of course!
He also follows the pace of challenges set by pastry chef Lucien Gautier. “He is passionate about his metier and his creations always give me even greater motivation to find the perfect match” the sommelier tells us. “This relationship is essential for me and my way of working” concludes the pastry chef who will soon be returning to France to prepare for the ‘MOF’ title too.

Christophe Tassan

The ‘Mandalay Bay’ and ‘The Hotel’ on the peak from which ‘The MiX’ towers above the city.

The Ducasse attitude is well adapted“Adapt presentation to the volume of activity without compromising the end result on the plate” this is how Bruno Davaillon speaks about part of his profession as chef of ‘The MiX’ in Las Vegas. It is a procedure that corresponds to a reality of this company. With its commanding view on the ‘Las Vegas Strip’, the restaurant serves between 90000 and 100000 covers a year and some services alone, at the weekend, exceed 450 covers. A frenzied pace for a restaurant opened just over four years ago! “On the first menu, we played safe with dishes approved at ‘Spoon’. Subsequently we have developed by fixing a guideline: we present uncomplicated, but not simplistic Ducasse food.. We always get straight to the fundamental element: produce...”
Fabien Rivière is manager of this restaurant. He met Alain Ducasse in Monaco, before taking a change of scene and coming to join the team in Las Vegas two years ago. With 95 employees under his responsibility, he wants everything to be ready and prepared to “accomplish evening service by providing perfection. For this we rely on training. Each time changes are made to the menu, restaurant service staff must know the composition of the dishes on the tips of their tongues to be able to answer questions in the event of a customer’s allergy. This is absolutely essential here!”
The American feature also means having to adapt to competition. “This competition comes from inside the casino itself, between the various restaurants. The spirit of competition is everywhere. But ‘The MiX’ possesses qualities that others simply don’t have; starting with the name Ducasse and the fact that it is an elegant, discreet restaurant buzzing with excitement. Above all, this restaurant combines well with the attitude of this city. In Vegas, there are three things to do in the evening: dine, go to see a show and round off the evening by gambling or going to a nightclub. So customers do not spend four hours seated at a table. It’s our role to provide efficient, impeccable service and respect this rule.”
Jean Bernard

Fabien Rivière (to the left) and Bruno Davaillon (3rd by leaving of the left) and the small French team of the MIX.