So recent is the development of the fine dining scene in Las Vegas that Light Group executive chef Brian Massie, who in 1999 helped Charlie Palmer open Aurerole in the Mandalay Bay and then became executive chef at Charlie Palmer Steak at the Las Vegas Four Seasons, qualifies as a pioneer. A 1996 Culinary Institute of America graduate, he began his career working for Lidia Bastianich in his native New York, then apprenticed in Italy before hooking up with Palmer. In 2001, he became executive chef of the N9NE Restaurant Group, proprietor of N9NE Restaurant, the Skin Pool Lounge, Rain Nightclub and Ghost Bar in Las Vegas. He joined the Light Group, the company behind FIX at the Bellagio, Stack at the Mirage and Diablo’s Cantina in the Monte Carlo, in 2004. The group’s 2008 projects include Yellowtail, a sushi restaurant in the Bellagio, and Brand Steakhouse at the Monte Carlo.
Your refrigerator is packed with really interesting stuff. How does a guy who’s in charge of as many restaurants as you are find time to cook?
It depends on what point I’m at in my work. There’s a little free time when we’re not doing an opening. But if we are, then I’m glued to the new restaurant for months. Either way, I’ve got friends and family here all the time.
So you’ve got a gang here in town to feed?
Usually, it’s visitors. I’m still tight with my high school buddies; one or more of them comes out at least every three weeks. And my brother, mother or father visit me about four times a year each.
Ah, the lure of Las Vegas.
I’m lucky. This house has everything: huge pool, a basketball court, fire pit...you should see my outdoor kitchen. It’s even got a deep fryer.
Cool...except you have to get up and head for work the next day while your guests sleep in.
True enough. I go in at 8 a.m. to check out how we did on projections and costs on the three restaurants the previous day. Then I squeeze in lunch between construction meetings—it seems like I go to 15 meetings a day.
Then you’re done?
Not quite. Starting about 5 or 6 p.m., I bounce between the three restaurants. I’ll pull a full shift if one of my unit executive chefs is off.
Then you wade into the Las Vegas nightlife?
(Laughs). Not any more. Now I head home. I’m a single parent of two dogs, a bulldog and a bull mastiff. That makes three alpha males in the house. I’m like the referee.
What might you do on your day off?
I’ll take the dogs out to Red Rock Canyon for a big walk. Or I’ll do some hunting or fishing.
Think you’ll ever open a restaurant of your own?
I plan to stay where I am. I’d rather spend somebody else’s money than my own. Plus, I’m a partner.
One last question: How often do you juggle?
This is the first time in 15 years. Pretty good, huh?