Top Chef New Orleans contestant and Vegas' very own Shirley Chung is ready to announce her first restaurant, and it's not where you think. She's helping Restaurant 28 open in Orange County on the edge of Irvine and Newport Beach near Fashion Island.
Chung says this is her first client for her new consulting firm Chung Lee Consulting and while she'll still be based in Vegas, she'll help the restaurant do everything from setting up the menu to hiring staff and opening the joint in June. She plans to serve up modern Chinese fare, much like she did on Top Chef, at the restaurant. "Now when people want to taste my food, I can send them there."
"This is sort of like my first baby so I'm excited about that," she says.
"I have the freedom to create anything I want. The idea is that you can find Chinese food everywhere in the world. This will evolve with the local culture. I'm calling it 'cuisine with no borders'."
Chung continues to look for the right place in Vegas to open. "I was hoping my first one wold be in Vegas. I'll finish opening this one in June and then I have another one after to get up and running. Those two projects give me enough momentum," Chung told Eater Vegas.
As for opening in Vegas, she's found that the market here is much more of a beast than she anticipated. Chung would prefer to open in a resort on the Strip rather than, say, Chinatown. "I wanted to do more than open my own place with 24 covers. I'm not discouraged at all."
She also says she'll be part of one of Bravo's celebrity cruises his fall and will judge a culinary battle at Caesars Palace featuring up-and-coming Asian chefs.
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