It’s all about precision. As executive chef at the acclaimed L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Steve Benjamin is one of the most focused people on the Strip, supervising the creation of some of the most delicately beautiful food in the world. When the tables are turned and he’s picking what he wants to eat, Benjamin likes it cold and raw. “I love sushi and sashimi. I really enjoy just rice and raw fish and always want more. It’s the only way you cannot lie about the product—nothing is cooked, just marinated, and it’s all about texture and flavor. I like things very simple.”
It makes perfect sense for Benjamin: After long hours of complicated technique, he seeks a return to simplicity. When tasked with crafting his own perfect meal, he went straight for some of the more simple (yet still amazing) dishes available at L’Atelier.
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon MGM Grand, 891-7358. Daily, 5-11 p.m.
The chef starts with something small and fresh: avocado and cilantro-flavored grapefruit gelée with diced Granny Smith apples, fleur de sel and a variety of chili pepper cultivated in the French commune of Espelette.
It’s often compared to a shrimp, but the flavor of the langoustine is closer to lobster. L’Atelier serves it in different ways, including as a fritter with basil pesto, but Benjamin likes it sliced, carpaccio-style, with a roasted poppyseed dressing and lemon olive oil. “Also a little lime zest,” he says, “because the texture when adding acidity works very well, and the flavor of the langoustine is pretty intense.”
“The kusshi oyster is an amazing product, such clean flavor, so I like to just flash it on the broiler, very lightly, and add only a little French salted butter. It’s simple, but it’s the best way to eat these oysters, and it’s a great preparation for the next course.”
Cap of beef ribeye
“This is one of the best products you can have with beef, as all the flavor you want is located in this very thin cut,” Benjamin says. As such, few restaurants serve the ribeye cap, and even fewer can keep it on hand. “We cannot get it every time, but we bring it back to the menu as much as we can. I sear it and slice it with some shallot confit on top … very tender, just amazing.” The dish is served with a side of Robuchon’s iconic pommes purée (mashed potatoes).
“I’m not a sugar person. I prefer to finish with cheese, and the best reason is because after that red meat, you’re going to have some red wine left in your glass. That’s why you need a French cheese, something strong, to finish that wine. It’s just perfect.”