In spring 2005, Philippe Rispoli and Daniel Boulud unveiled their first culinary venture together in Las Vegas: Daniel Boulud Brasserie at Wynn Las Vegas. Rispoli oversees the restaurant on a daily basis as executive chef with Boulud as his guiding force. Rispoli’s strong relationship with Boulud and shared vision for the restaurant have allowed the two chefs to create a menu that both pays homage to their French roots, and gracefully reinterprets traditional brasserie classics.
Rispoli, 32, first arrived on the West Coast in 1999 when he became executive chef at the MGM’s Mansion in Las Vegas. He went on to become executive chef for Charlie Palmer’s Aureole, learning another style of cooking and an appreciation for Palmer’s refreshing simplicity and purity of flavors.
When asked what he most loves to eat, Chef Rispoli closes his eyes and smiles in a manner that reveals he is dreaming of a favorite far away place: home. He is quick to respond that his favorite food is charcuterie of every possible shape and style. This is hardly surprising for a young man from Lyon, which is both France’s culinary capital and home to the world’s finest charcuterie.
Rispoli hails from Vilette d’Anton, a country village just outside the city of Lyon. It is no coincidence that he shares these geographic origins with Daniel Boulud. For Boulud, there could be no more crucial choice than that of the executive chef for his new restaurant. The two chefs share the same roots, palate and dedication to producing consistently delicious food.
This unity of mind, taste and talent is evident in the relationship between Boulud and Rispoli. The two met when Rispoli, having been recommended by Pierre Orsi, one of France’s most admired chefs, was sent to work for Boulud at DANIEL in New York in 1996. At DANIEL, he worked his way through every station of the kitchen, proving his talent and devotion, and remained until 1999.
Like many great chefs, Rispoli’s earliest food memories and lessons in the kitchen come from his mother and grandmother. He began his first kitchen apprenticeship at the age of fourteen at l’Auberge du Pont de Jonc, a small local restaurant in Lyon, where he remained for three years. Subsequently, he went on to work in the Lyon kitchen of Pierre Orsi and after two years knew he had found his true vocation. Stints at other fine Lyon establishments followed including Les Eaux Vive, Villa Florentin and, finally, the renowned Paul Bocuse.
The opportunity to live and work in Cannes drew Rispoli to legendary kitchens of the Côte d’Azur. From the Hotel Martinez under Chef Christian Willer, and then just a few steps down the Croisette to the Carlton Hotel’s Bel Otero under Chef Francis Chevaux, he absorbed the region’s Provençal influences, seasonal ingredients and Mediterranean flavors.