By Jim Begley | April 20, 2017 | Food & Drink
Lorena Garcia busts into the boys' club (again) to open her restaurant in Venetian.
Chef Lorena Garcia in her kitchen.
In February, Venetian added a 21-foot-tall photo of Top Chef Masters alum and Miami, Atlanta, and Dallas chef and restaurateur Lorena Garcia to its Wall of Chefs—the first woman in the mix, holding her own between Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse—in anticipation of the May opening of her restaurant Chica. Her plans, too, are unlike any other on the Strip: South and Central American fare blending the cultures of Peru, Mexico, Argentina, and her native Venezuela in the former db Brasserie space. She’s dubbed the food “fresh, modern Latin.”
“Modern because it’s my interpretation of what new Latin classics are about today,” she says, “and Latin because we have all the flavors of Latin America represented in these amazing dishes.” Owned by the Miami-based 50 Eggs, which also owns Venetian’s Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, her decidedly feminine restaurant will be pushing out a rotating selection of ceviches from the cold bar, churrascaria grilled meats, and Venezuelan arepas, all of which you can wash down with wines from a menu highlighting South American vineyards. Reflecting on her place on the testosterone-laden wall, she suggests to young female chefs, “Be a master in what you do. Prepare yourself. Work. Learn from the best. Find your mentor. Dedicate your time to travel, to study, to cook, and to learn.”
The eternally optimistic Garcia notes that it “doesn’t matter if you’re a chica or chico. If you know what you’re doing and you’re passionate about food, I’m sure that success will be right there.” We suggest you reflect on this wisdom over a glass from her collection of wines by female vintners from every country in South America. Venetian, 702-430-1235
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ERIK KABIK PHOTOGRAPHY (EVENT)