Chef/Proprietor, Gastronomy Management Group for Andre’s Monte Carlo & Alizé at the Palms Casino Resort
André Rochat is Las Vegas’ original celebrity chef.
Long before Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse and Charlie Palmer arrived in Las Vegas, Rochat was providing world-class cuisine and sophisticated service, easily satisfying the most discriminating high rollers.
Today, while he shares the limelight with some of America’s most celebrated chefs and restaurateurs, Rochat remains the dean of Las Vegas chefs, with two top-ranked, award-winning restaurants, and a dedication to standards as high as the 56th floor perch of one of his grandest restaurants, Alizé, which overlooks the city from the top of the Palms Casino Resort.
Rochat was born in the French Alps where his family owned a charcuterie in the village of La Rochette. After learning the business — beginning at the tender age of five—and inheriting the gift of cooking from his mother, he left home at 14 to apprentice at Leon de Lyon, the renowned Michelin two-star restaurant in the heart of Lyon, in the region known as the cradle of French gastronomy. Later, he took a job at the Hôtel du Mont-Blanc in Megève, not far from home, and followed with a military assignment as chef to a French naval commander, a prestigious appointment for a rising culinary star.
In 1965, Rochat departed his native France, arriving in Boston with nothing but $5, a bagful of knives and a head full of youthful dreams. After cooking at several prestigious East Coast hotels including Boston’s Charter House and Washington’s Mayflower and enjoying a stint as an in-flight chef for United Airlines, he drifted west, eventually landing in Las Vegas — a long way from La Rochette.
In 1973, he opened a successful business, Savoy French Bakery, after observing the absence of an authentic French boulangerie in Las Vegas. In 1980, Rochat founded his cozy French restaurant, Andre’s, which would eventually become one of Las Vegas’ most venerable and acclaimed establishments. Despite its location in downtown Las Vegas, word quickly spread that Andre’s, with the rustic ambiance of a French country auberge, was the place for an intimate gourmet dinner in the burgeoning metropolis. Since then, Andre’s has set the standard for culinary excellence in Las Vegas and even the much-publicized arrival of celebrity chefs from L.A., New York and San Francisco didn’t detract from the restaurant’s superlative reputation and immense following.
As LVCitylife.com put it, “Andre’s is what people think of when someone says, ‘take me to the nicest place in town.’”
In 1997, Rochat opened a second location on the Strip, Andre’s Restaurant and Lounge at Monte Carlo. In 2001, he opened Alizé on top of the Palms Casino Resort, the hip hotel that has profoundly altered the dynamics of Las Vegas nightlife. With his now two highly acclaimed restaurants, Rochat remains at the top of the Las Vegas culinary hierarchy and seems to be a chef truly at peace with his choices in life. Described by his peers as having no ego, he is regarded as a superb mentor to younger talents. Recognized in 2008 and 2009, Rochat accomplished his life dream when two of his restaurants were recognized by the Michelin Guide with one star rating.
Rochat, a passionate collector, maintains one of the most extensive and exclusive collections of Cognacs in the world, displayed throughout his fine restaurants — yet another reason discriminating diners enjoy spending an evening with the legendary chef who put Las Vegas on the culinary map.
CHEF CHRIS BULEN
Chef de Cuisine, Andre’s Monte Carlo
Like many of Andre Rochat’s protégés, Chris Bulen, Chef de Cuisine at Andre’s Monte Carlo, began his culinary career as a dishwasher in his hometown of Hartland, WI. Just happy to be earning his own money with his first job at the private country club where his father was a line cook, Bulen didn’t immediately feel any special affinity for fine food. After two summers on the job, however, Bulen was asked to work Sundays preparing soups and salads and slicing meats for the country club’s brunch rush.Soon thereafter, Bulen felt an emerging interest in improving his culinary skills. He diligently focused on acquiring new techniques, learning about different products and developing greater knowledge about what the culinary world was all about.At age 21 and with six years of experience at the country club, he was ready for the next step: culinary school. He attended Le Cordon Blue North America Culinary School in Minneapolis, where he eagerly absorbed the training he received in classic techniques. Finally, his coursework completed, Bulen knew he wanted to leave the Midwest. He set his sights on Las Vegas which, in his own words, was “the city that had it all.”
So strong was his conviction that Las Vegas was the place he wanted to be, he and his girlfriend – also in the culinary industry – packed up and moved here before even being offered a job. Fortunately, after interviewing at Alizé, Andre Rochat’s restaurant at the top of the Palms Casino Resort, they were both hired.
From his days at the country club back home, Bulen knew all about starting at the bottom and working your way up. He was thrilled to have the opportunity do so at a restaurant of Alize’s caliber. His passion for his profession shone through to Rochat, who remarked that the young man genuinely appeared eager to learn everything he could by emulating them. Gradually, he was given the opportunity to work different stations around the kitchen and, after four years, he had successfully worked at each of them.
When Andre’s Monte Carlo re-opened after a renovation in 2008, Bulen pursued a sous chef position at that restaurant. Having witnessed firsthand his passion and dedication to perfecting the techniques synonymous with Andre’s, Rochat hired him for the position. Three years later, he was promoted to the “golden ring” – Chef de Cuisine at Andre’s Restaurant.
Today, Bulen revels in Rochat’s continued mentoring, and prides himself in meeting the experienced chef’s exacting standards. One of his most treasured accomplishments in his current role: participating in the annual Jean-Louis Palladin dinners, where he has collaborated with a constellation of some of the restaurant scene’s most acclaimed chefs to prepare a single, sumptuous meal. More than anything else, he enjoys the opportunity to showcase not only Rochat’s classic French cuisine, but also the frequent opportunities to introduce the fruits of his own culinary imagination into his work in the kitchen.
Pastry Chef, Gastronomy Management Group
Tammy Alana, one of four children, was born in Torrance, Calif. and raised in Orange County. She discovered her calling to the kitchen while enrolled in culinary certification courses at the community college in Cypress California.In 1999, Alana apprenticed at a local bakery in Yorba Linda, Calif., making breads, Danishes and wedding cakes, when she decided to pursue her formal education at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Greystone in Napa Valley, California.
While attending the CIA, Alana was offered a pastry cook position at Domaine Chandon Winery and the lead baker position at Brix Restaurant in Yountville, California, which evolved into the assistant pastry position. Upon graduating from the CIA, her interest in high volume, large hotels was at all time high. With no refreshing job prospects in California, Alana moved to Las Vegas to pursue work in the hotel industry.
Shortly after arriving, she landed at Bellagio, where she worked banquets, then with the restaurant team and onto the wedding cake department. When the new Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa opened, she worked in the pastry shop where she continued to hone her skills gaining knowledge and experience in a boutique hotel.
Shortly thereafter, Alana was introduced to the Maccioni family of Le Cirque and Circo who were looking for a pastry chef to open their new “Off-Strip” venture in the Summerlin area of Las Vegas, Trē. The Maccioni Family’s corporate chef would eventually introduce Alana to André Rochat who was looking for a unique talent to take over the pastry chef’s position at Alizé at the Top of the Palms Casino Resort.
In 2005, Alizé was invited to the James Beard House where Alana prepared the intermittent, pastries and petit fours to rave reviews (she returned again to the James Beard House with our Alize´Chef de Cuisine Mark Purdy in June, 2013). Also in 2005, she was named as one of Las Vegas’ Rising Star Pastry Chefs by Star Chefs. In 2006, Alana was featured on the Food Network episode Sugar Rush. Alana has done many charity events such as Odyssey, Share our Strength, Epicurean, Jean Louis and Bon Apetit; she has also participated in the American Heart Assoc. in Washington D.C.