Interview with Chef Sean Griffin of Neros - Las Vegas, NV

September, 2005

Antoinette Bruno: Why did you start cooking? What or who inspired you to become a chef?
Sean Griffin: I grew up in a restaurant family in Orange County, CA. I started peeling potatoes and baking when I was 13. My dad was the driving force inspiring me to become a chef.

AB: Did you attend culinary school? Why or why not?
SG: I did not go to school. I worked for my father until I was 22 years old.

AB: Who are your mentors?
SG: Conny Anderson at the Regent Beverly Wilshire. He guided me but let me learn and develop my style. Conny treated everyone with respect. He didn’t yell in the kitchen like everyone else I worked for. He taught me how to deal with people which has inspired my own management style.

AB: Are there any secret ingredients that you especially like? Why?
SG: I like to brown butter before using it in sauces. You get a nutty flavor; it’s a great building block.

AB: What is your most indispensable kitchen tool? Why?
SG: A chef’s spoon. I use it for saucing. It’s more artistic than a squirt bottle. You drag it across the plate.

AB: What is your favorite question to ask during an interview for a potential new line cook?
SG: Why are you here? If their answer is, “I’m tired with the job I’m doing now,” then they are out! I need to see if they are passionate about being here.

AB: What tips would you offer young chefs just getting started?
SG: Keep an open mind. A lot of CIA grads thing they know everything and they have so much to learn. Don’t move too fast, watch everything and learn.

AB: What are your favorite cookbooks?
SG: At the moment, Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating–from Chef Fergus Henderson of St. John’s, London. It expands your horizons. Also Thomas Keller’s French Laundry cookbook – I like the refinement.

AB: What are your favorite restaurants in Las Vegas?
SG: Bouchon – It’s very simple, expertly prepared. Also Bradley Ogden, Spago and Olives.

AB: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10 years?
SG: I want to do something smaller than Las Vegas. A small-seat restaurant, my own restaurant, but really I prefer a partner/backer. I have owned my own restaurant – I started out 20 years old owning my own restaurant and I’m not sure I want that again. But I am thinking about it.