Bellagio Resort & Casino
3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Antoinette Bruno: Why did you
start cooking? What or who inspired you to become a chef?
Steve Mannino: My family, first
and foremost. Everyone in my family cooks. It’s almost like
a competition. When I got older, I though I might as well make money
AB: Do you feel that attending The Culinary Institute of America
helped developed your skills as a chef? Would you recommend culinary
school to aspiring chefs today?
SM: Yes, it taught me a lot of the basics, the foundation. I’d
recommend culinary school for the same reason. You learn more than
just going the restaurant route. It gives you more credibility.
You must also travel and stage as well.
AB: Can you talk about your experiences working with David Burke
and Todd English?
SM: David taught me straight creativity. Todd taught me about the
use of bold, in-your-face flavor.
AB: What is your philosophy on food and dining?
SM: Less is kind of more. Put four things on the plate and make
them work. This is reality; I don’t have a farm down the street.
I take what I’m given and I make the best statement I can.
AB: Are there any secret ingredients that you especially like?
SM: Pea tendrils are underutilized. I like different flavored oils,
like orange oil, and flavored salts - smoked, herbed, etc.
AB: What is your most indispensable kitchen tool?
SM: A saucier spoon to put food on the plate.
AB: Is there a culinary technique that you have either created
or used in an unusual way?
SM: As a finishing touch or topping to a dish I will often create
a mousse, whether it’s out of foie gras or parmesan, and freeze
it. Then as a finisher I will shave the “mousse” using
a truffle slicer for an extremely fine curl. By taking something
relatively creamy, freezing it and shredding it, the mouth is teased
with two competing and yet complimentary textures. It can add a
lot of life to a dish.
AB: What is your favorite
question to ask during an interview for a potential new line cook?
SM: That’s easy - Do
you know exactly what you’re getting into? I think too many
cooks walk into a position either thinking they know it all or thinking
that they can handle any situation. The environment we work in is
high stress and fast passed; the last thing I want is someone being
misled into a position that they didn’t anticipate or where
they are il-prepared for the events that transpire when things get.
OLIVES | Las Vegas
New York native Steve Mannino is the golden child
of the Olives family of restaurants. Since first working in star
chef Todd English’s flagship restaurant in Charlestown, Massachusetts,
he has gone on to play critical roles in several of English’s outposts,
including at the Bellagio Hotel Las Vegas when it originally opened. At
the tender age of 25, Mannino was called upon to open the Washington,
DC, location of Olives. Contributions to the development and
refinement of English’s Orlando-based restaurant, Blue Zoo,
followed, as well as English’s restaurant project aboard the Queen
Mary 2. Mannino credits English with teaching him about the use of bold,
in-your-face flavor, but his personal approach toward cooking includes
a “less is more,” attitude, where he stays focused on a few
elements on the plate.
Wild Mushroom and Quail Egg Stuffed Ravioli
with Truffle Butter Emulsion and Grated Parmesan
Chef Steve Mannino of Olives at the Bellagio Resort & Casino
– Las Vegas, NV
Adapted by StarChefs.com
Yield: 4 Servings
- 1 pound all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 ounce water
- 2 cups portobello mushrooms
- 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 2 shallots, finely minced
- ¼ cup brandy
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 ounce cream
- ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pasta Dough
- 12 quail eggs
- 3 ounces truffle butter
- Fresh grated parmesan cheese
- White truffle oil
Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl and make a well in the center.
Place the eggs and water in the well. Workings as rapidly as possible,
gradually pull the flour into the liquid ingredients and stir until a
loose mass forms. As the dough is mixed, adjust the consistency with additional
flour or water.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until the texture
becomes smooth and elastic. Gather and smooth the kneaded dough into a
ball, cover, and let the dough relax at room temperature for 1 hour.
Roll the pasta dough into thin sheets to prepare for ravioli stuffing.
Place a skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, olive oil, and butter.
Cook until mushrooms are brown. Add shallots, cooking further, until the
shallots are brown as well. Pour in the brandy and flambé. Add
chicken stock and cook until stock has evaporated. Season with rosemary,
salt and pepper. Pour in blender, puree, and allow to cool.
Roll out dough to thinnest setting on pasta machine. Cut into 3-inch circles,
then pipe 1 ounce of filling onto slices of dough in a circle, leaving
a hole in the center. Crack 1 quail egg and place in the center of the
filling. Place another circle of dough on top and seal, being careful
to remove any air.
In a medium sauté pan melt truffle butter. Bring a pot of salted
water to a gentle boil and cook 4 raviolis at a time for 1 minute. Do
not cook the egg inside. Remove raviolis from water and place in sauté
pan. Add 2 ounces of pasta water and 1 ounce grated parmesan. Finish with
1 teaspoon white truffle oil and spoon raviolis onto a warmed plate. Grate
fresh parmesan over the whole dish.
AB: What tips would you offer young
chefs just getting started?
SM: As a representative for the Bellagio
when recruiting, and when mentoring other up and coming chefs, I encourage
them to take the slow road in determining their course or career path.
They should really consider extensive travel that will allow them to eat
and work in new ways on a regular basis. In experiences, both personal
and culinary, new chefs will easily find a path that will keep them on
track for continued learning.
AB: What are your favorite cookbooks?
AB: What cities
do you like for culinary travel?
SM: I really enjoy cookbooks because
they allow you to learn a great deal from known chefs and the foundations
of cooking like classic techniques and the history and development of
food. Right now, I’m skimming Mario Batali’s new book,
Molto Italiano and am enjoying it immensely. But honestly,
I’m more of a culinary magazine man. Staying up to date on trends
in the industry is a great way to not only compare where you stand in
the culinary world, but it also can show you interesting tools and techniques
that you may not have considered.
I started my career working in five cities for five years, so culinary
travel is important to me. Some of my favorites are cities that I’ve
worked in or would love to work in: San Francisco, Chicago, New York are
places that I’ve already worked. I’m headed to Rome this fall
and I can’t wait, but I’d also love the chance to travel more
extensively and work in Spain.
AB: What trends do you see emerging
in the restaurant industry now?
SM: I’m really excited that
the deconstructionist movement coming to a close. I would much rather
see people enjoy food as it was meant to be eaten and classically prepared.
AB: Where do you see yourself in
5 years? In 10 years?
SM: A while ago, this was easier
for me to answer as I worked in those five cities in five years. Now that
I have a family and also have the opportunity to travel more, I definitely
see myself having my own restaurant within five years. In ten years I
think that I’m capable of having an off-shoot of that original restaurant
in another city with the help of my chef friends.