The chef also reveals what dishes celebrities always request at Jean-Georges Vongerichten's newest restaurant.
Chef Steve Benjamin, who left L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas after 12 years this spring, is cooking for his first pre-Emmys party this month. It’ll be a special night for the chef, who is accustomed to serving A-list stars: He used to frequently cook for none other than Celine Dion (who, by the way, indulged in French butter every once in a while, according to the chef). His menu for the party, which includes spicy tuna tartare, avocado pizza, and sea urchin, consists of signature dishes from Jean-Georges Vongerichten's east coast restaurants, with a west coast twist.
All the dishes at The Hollywood Reporter SAG-AFTRA Emmy Nominees Night at Jean-Georges Beverly Hills at the Waldorf Astoria, which takes place on September 14, will be served with produce from the west coast, including many small producers that Benjamin, now the executive chef at Jean-Georges Beverly Hills, worked with his during his tenure in Vegas.
“[On the] avocado pizza, for example, the avocado comes from a small producer in the south of California, and I think he has the best avocados we have on the west coast right now,” the chef explains. “[The dishes are] a little elevated with the produce from the west coast.”
Putting his personal touch on Vongerichten's recipes is an honor according to Benjamin, who spent many years eating at the legendary chef’s restaurants, but is just now getting the opportunity to try creating some of his dishes for himself.
Although he might have been new to Jean-Georges’ recipes, Benjamin is no stranger to cooking for celebrities, so their dietary restrictions don’t present a challenge for him.
“Since I started cooking for celebrities from Paris to Vegas to California, I found that most of them are very particular about what they want to eat. Most of them want healthy food,” he explains. “They pay attention to where the produce is from and if it’s organic or not.”
During his career, he’s encountered celebrities who prefer vegetables, don’t eat meat, and are gluten-free and vegan—he’s seen it all. But when they stop by a Jean-Georges restaurant, Benjamin hears requests for the same dishes from celebrities time and time again.
“Especially here at Jean-Georges, celebrities always ask about the spicy tuna tartare, with the fresh avocado and ginger. People like that Asian fusion. Avocado pizza is another dish celebrities request. People ask for that, and the truffle pizza.”
Jean-Georges Beverly Hills at the Waldorf Astoria opened just three months ago and is the first Los Angeles restaurant for James Beard Award-winning and Michelin-star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, so Benjamin often repeats that the prospect of cooking for the Emmys party is “exciting, very exciting.”
“Everything is going to be very special," he promises.