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  • Writer's pictureLisa Codianne Fowler

Soul on a Plate

Updated: Jul 21, 2018

Spago Executive Chef Eric Klein doing a cooking demonstration with Lisa Codianne Fowler in the foreground

Ah, the art of the meal… the farm- and garden-fresh tastes, textures and aromas. Most of us have savored extraordinary cuisine. But it’s not often we get a glimpse inside the head of the creator of that cuisine.

I had the privilege of spending a week with Spago’s Executive Chef, Eric Klein, during the International Food Wine & Travel Writers Annual Conference at Sea last fall. Through a series of lectures, tastings and interviews, I gleaned a bit about the methods behind his madness (translate, success). Though there are many contributing factors to Chef’s culinary stardom, it seems to boil down to one essential ingredient. Passion.

“You put soul on the plate, people will understand,” Chef Klein shares. The guy is as warm and personable as he is creative. And he is always open to new ideas.

“Bridges were meant to be driven across, not to be looked it. Change is good. Think differently. Try different approaches, something new.”

Chef subscribes to a holistic approach, from soup to nuts, so to speak. From hand-selected ingredients to engaging a thoughtfully chosen staff, it’s all part of the mix. “When you are the chef of a restaurant, you are mayor of a small village. Your people are what you are. Hang out with the staff, inspire them. It is no longer work; it is home. “

Chef Klein’s youthful, boyish good looks defy his vast experience and world-recognized expertise. Born and raised in Alsace, he began his culinary career in France where he received his diploma in 1991 from Lycee Professional. Since then, he has gone on to take the helm of Spago Las Vegas as executive chef and partner, but not before garnering multiple accolades , including being named one of the Top 10 Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine magazine, among many other distinctive awards.

“When you walk into the restaurant (Spago’s), you are not walking into a restaurant; you are walking into a place that makes you feel whole.” Indeed. It’s all about soul on a plate.

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