Candace Ochoa takes over the kitchen at Bazaar Meat by José Andrés, a member of the Eater 38 at the Sahara Las Vegas. The new executive chef will oversee all culinary operations for the restaurant. Ochoa has been with ThinkFoodGroup, the company behind chef José Andrés’ group of restaurants, for 10 years, and is the only executive chef to have worked at all of Andrés’ Bazaar locations.
Ochoa worked as executive sous chef for Bazaar Meat since 2018, and also assisted with the restaurant’s grand opening in 2014. She helped open The Bazaar by José Andrés at SLS Hotel in South Beach as sous chef, and served as a line cook at The Bazaar by José Andrés at SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. She assisted with the grand openings of Bazaar Mar by José Andrés at SLS Brickell in Miami Beach and Mercado Little Spain in Hudson Yards in New York City. Originally from Los Angeles, Ochoa earned her associate degree in culinary arts from The Art Institute of California.
Here, Ochoa talks about some of her plans as executive chef and how the restaurant is coping with COVID-19 restrictions issued by the state. Through March 15, restaurants can open at 35 percent occupancy with six people per table. Masks are mandatory when diners are not actively eating or drinking.
Eater Vegas: Do you have any changes you plan to make to the menu now that you are in charge?
Candace Ochoa: Our meat program is exceptional, although we’d like to showcase a new rib-eye or new cut of meat monthly. I’d also like to venture out with showcasing vegetables in a new and exciting way. We have quite a few guests come in that are vegetarian, vegan, or just want more vegetables in their meal. We’d like to cater to them and display that we can do exceptional vegetables as well. We are currently working with some local farms to get that up and running. My team and I are very excited for the future menu.
ELV: How would you sum up business now? Does 35 percent occupancy help?
CO: We are grateful that the occupancy has been moved up to 35 percent and look forward to 50 percent occupancy starting March 15. We are also thankful that we now have the opportunity to host tables for up to six guests now, instead of only four. We are actually planning on expanding our hours and will be open on Thursdays (in addition to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) beginning March 4.
ELV: How have you approached takeout and delivery during the pandemic? I know Bazaar Meat has a new takeout program, but how has it been going?
CO: The Bazaar Meat takeaway menu has been very successful as it has allowed our guests to enjoy our menu from the comfort of their own home. Guests can choose to either have us cook their meat for them, or we provide them with the instructions to cook the meat at home, and the meals are also accompanied by starters, sides and a dessert.
ELV: What else will you be doing to mitigate lost revenue? Any new endeavors you took on?
CO: During this time of limited service options, we have looked to expand our offerings to make the Bazaar experience more accessible. Some of these endeavors include our takeaway menu as well as specials at Bar Centro including the Bar Bites menu and popular items like our Bazaar Burger.
ELV: Have you seen people make reservations and cancel? How has that affected business?
CO: Yes, cancellations are common and something that’s anticipated. It hasn’t affected us as much, as there is often someone waiting for an open slot. We are very fortunate to have such a big space, which has allowed us to do our maximum amount of covers every weekend as of lately.
ELV: What word best sums up how you’re feeling about the future right now?
CO: Exhilarated! We can’t wait to execute our new projects we have lined up. The future of Bazaar looks luminous.
ELV: Anything else you would like to add?
CO: During this difficult time, rest assured that we are keeping all our guests and our entire staff safe. It’s a collective effort and together we will persevere. On behalf of Bazaar Meat, we’d like to thank everyone that has come to experience our restaurant. With your support, we have been able to keep our doors open and continue this culinary dream.