According to Executive Chef Eric Klein, a winning chef always puts the customer first.
"A restaurant is for people to enjoy themselves," Klein said. "It's not for a chef just to express himself."
Klein, a native of the Alsace region of France, came to the United States and joined Wolfgang Puck's fine dining team in 1996. Prior to emigrating, he received his diploma from Lycee Professional and cooked for French military officers.
Klein worked his way up Puck's chef pyramid, making his way to Executive Sous Chef. He struck out on his own in 2003, as the executive chef and managing partner of the popular Maple Drive in Beverly Hills. Within three months of opening, Klein's restaurant had earned three stars from the Los Angeles Times and Klein himself was named one of the top ten chefs in America by Food & Wine magazine.
He came to Las Vegas to open SW Steakhouse at Wynn Las Vegas. Klein then followed up with a stint at Bellagio's FIX before getting the call from Puck to return to Spago -- this time in Las Vegas as Executive Chef.
Any day Klein is in the kitchen (which is usually most of the week), patrons will find him heading from table to table, ensuring his guests are enjoying their meal.
"One of the reasons people come to Spago is because I always take the time to come to the table," he said.
Klein also makes plenty of time for dish creation.
"Every day we have around 18 appetizers and 18 entrees," he said. "I try to capture the moment. Whatever is fresh, in season—that is what we use. Spago is not a restaurant just for one-time customers. We are a place people want to come back to again and again."
Most importantly, Klein's dishes are simple and fun.
"I want people to think they're dining at a friend's living room," he said. "Spago is an icon for that. The food is simple, unpretentious, but beautiful."