Food and beverage, and even more so hospitality, runs in the family for Brian Werner, Executive Chef and General Manager at Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas. Growing up in Lake Havasu City, Arizona Brian’s mom ran a catering company and his dad was the director of food and beverage at a resort. He knew at a young age he wanted to pursue a culinary career. He explains, “Being raised in restaurants and watching my parents build relationships with guests was inspiring. I would pop into the restaurants and see the chefs in the back with the old school white coats and hats preparing plated dinners for executives. The dishes they would create blew my mind and it got me excited to create something special for people.”
After attending college in Tucson at the University of Arizona and then at the Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Brian moved to Las Vegas and joined Fox Restaurant Concepts, the namesake responsible for creating more than 15 restaurant concepts in over 50 locations across the country. Today, Brian leads both front of the restaurant and back of the restaurant operations at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino at the new Craft + Community Bar and Grill. We caught up with Brian to talk about his cooking inspirations, what he does in his rare spare time and to learn more about what Craft + Community brings to Las Vegas.
Q: What or who has inspired you and your cooking style?
A: My cooking style has definitely changed over the years but Eric “The Fox” Syhre has inspired me the most. Eric was the last executive chef I worked with and he did a lot of things with the way he cooked and plated food that I had never seen. We developed a great relationship.
Q: After a long day, what do you make yourself when you get home?
A: I often make what my family is in the mood for which is usually salmon. It’s quick and easy to whip up and I know at least thirty different ways to make it with a fresh side dish. My two boys love it.
Q: Where do you go or what to you crave on your rare days off?
A: The beach. I grew up in Lake Havasu so I love being by the water. Newport Beach is my favorite city so my family and I try to spend time there when we can.
Q: If you could cook for anyone, who would it be?
A: I’d host a dinner party for the Las Vegas Golden Knights. I think it would be awesome to be able to cook for them.
Q: What do you do when you’re not in the kitchen?
A: I’m at the bar! I’m always learning how to make new cocktails, trying new things and developing my palate. I also love wineries so you’ll find my wife and I opening a bottle of wine.
Q: What do you love most about Las Vegas?
A: There are so many things to love about Las Vegas. This city is constantly evolving. It doesn’t stay stagnant at all and I love that.
Q: What makes Craft + Community unique?
A: The staff. We hire a lot of fun personalities and we let them express who they are through what they wear. We don’t have a traditional approach to attire with a dress code. Instead, we want our team to be comfortable and wear who they are. It translates to them being able to connect with our guests and offer an environment that is really fun.
Craft + Community has all the elements of the coolest backyard party — a chef, a band, funky friends and a fun vibe. You wear what you want, you eat what you want, you drink what you want, and you groove in your own groove. With garage-style doors that open onto the pool patio and a menu with gastropub flare (think: craft beers, high-quality food made with fresh ingredients and creative preparation), Craft + Community should be on your list of places to eat in Vegas.
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