EAT THIS CITY: Chef Rick Moonen Shares His ‘Can’t Miss’ Food Experiences in Las Vegas, Nevada

By: 03.17.16
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Erin Taj For Uproxx

EAT THIS CITY is your weekly tour of the best restaurants in one of our favorite cities, as chosen by top chefs. This week, we head to the city of lights, Las Vegas!

They say that what happens here, stays here. Vegas may be decked out in bright lights, but it promises a cover for your secret fantasies and wildest deeds. Whether it’s attending a burlesque show, hitting the slots, or yes, watching Carrot Top live, the city doesn’t judge. Known as the Entertainment Capital of the World, it might be hard to imagine Sin City as a burgeoning center for ocean conservation and seafood sustainability. But it won’t be hard to imagine that for long, thanks to the passion and drive of Chef Rick Moonen.

Rick Moonen - Photo Credit Sabin Orr (HighRes)

Sabin Orr

Says Chef Moonen of sustainability:

It’s pretty much the core value of my company. It’s everything I live, breathe, and get creative for. Sustainability, connection with our environment, eating clean, good food, and leaving a healthier planet are all things that are extremely important to me.

Chef Moonen, who graduated first in his class from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York in 1978, went on to develop his talents at some of New York’s most iconic restaurants: Le Relais, Century Cafe, Chelsea Central, and The Water Club. From there, it was on to a position as partner and executive chef at Oceana, which earned three stars from The New York Times, and then on to his restaurants Molyvos and New York City’s rm. Both garnered three star reviews in turn.

Not one to rest on his laurels, in 2005 he was offered a challenge: move to Las Vegas, a city he’d never visited, and open a restaurant.

Technically, he opened two: rm seafood and Rx Boiler Room, and The Shoppes at Mandalay Place.

Occupying the top level, Rx Boiler Room offers a playful shared dining experience in an equally playful steampunk-inspired atmosphere. Guests enjoy comfort food inspired and reimagined, and handcrafted cocktails using the finest of spirits.

Rx Boiler Room Chicken Pot Pie Nuggets

Roni Fields-Moonen

Rx Boiler Room Chicken Pot Pie Nuggets

On the lower level, rm seafood continues to reflect Chef Moonen’s commitment to the environment. All of the seafood served is sustainably sourced, in accordance with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, which the chef has long championed (along with being a founding member of Seafood Choices Alliance).

If the desert town of Las Vegas still seems like an unusual place for this epicenter of ocean sustainability, don’t worry. Chef Moonen has thought about it a lot, too:

Actually, I think it’s a great place to do it, because it’s the most unlikely of things to happen. I don’t like things that are easy. I love challenges. So, I took the challenge…Here I am. Sustainability. In the middle of the desert. Love it. Love this city. I’ve embedded myself deeply into the community. Into the inner fiber of it, the growth of it. Watching a city before your eyes bubble like yeast budding out?…We get recognition for who we are, what we grow ourselves into being, and I get to be embedded in the nucleus of that? I am the happiest man alive because I get to cook for a living, I get to connect to people through food.

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