Philippe Rispoli
Wynn Las Vegas
3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(888) 320-7110


Amy Tarr: Why did you start cooking? What or who inspired you to become a chef?
Philippe Rispoli: I come from an Italian family and food is very important – my father was born in Naples, but my mom was born in Lyon. I started cooking with my family in France in Lyon. Charcouterie is my favorite food in the world – I love it - terrines, saucisson, pâte de foie gras, pate de campagne, etc.

AT: Did you attend culinary school in France? Do you only hire chefs with culinary school backgrounds?
PR: I worked through the apprentice system. It depends. Sometimes it’s good to have kids coming from the schools, and sometimes it’s good to have people with a little more practical experience. It’s great to have a mix.

AT: You met Daniel Boulud and started working for him in 1996 at Daniel in New York, working every station over 3 years. What are some of the most important things you learned from him?
PR: The quality of the products is the most important thing, the freshness as well as the variety – from classic to modern things. The best things are in season.

AT: What is your philosophy on food and dining?
PR: Work with fresh produce, not too much stuff on the plate, a few ingredients.

AT: You’ve been working in Las Vegas since 1999. What are the biggest challenges of being a chef in this city?
PR: To be on top every day. One day is good, one day is bad. The people in New York work 12 hours, here they work 8 hours.

AT: Is that a good thing?
PR: It’s not too bad. It’s different.

AT: Are there any secret ingredients that you especially like? Why?
PR: My favorite ingredients are tomatoes and eggplant - there is the possibility to do a lot of things with them –there’s a lot of diverse applications for these products.

AT: What is your most indispensable kitchen tool? Why?
PR: My paring knife – I don’t have a special one, but I can do everything with it.

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Philippe Rispoli

Many chefs crumble under the pressure of working for a four-star mega-chef, but Philippe Rispoli thrives on his working relationship with Daniel Boulud, one of America’s beloved French chefs. Rispoli and Boulud both hail from Lyon, France’s culinary capital. The two chefs share the same roots, palate, and dedication to producing consistently delicious food. Rispoli’s connection to Boulud goes back almost a decade, when the young chef was sent to work for him at Daniel in New York. Rispoli worked his way through every station in the kitchen, proving his extraordinary loyalty and talent. Over the last six years, Rispoli has established himself as one of Las Vegas’ most respected young chefs, first while working at MGM’s Mansion and then at Charlie Palmer’s Aureole. Now at Daniel Boulud Brasserie, he is back with his mentor chef and cooking the food of his heritage.


Lamb Pastilla with Eggplant Caviar, Braised Fennel, Lamb Jus and Taggiasca Olives
Chef Philippe Rispoli of Daniel Boulud Brasserie at Wynn Las Vegas
– Las Vegas, NV
Adapted by

Lamb Pastilla with Eggplant Caviar, Braised Fennel, Lamb Jus and Taggiasca Olives on StarChefs.comYield: 10 Servings


    Eggplant Caviar:
  • 8 eggplants
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 200 grams taggiasca olives, chopped
  • 1 sprig thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 sprig rosemary leaves, chopped
    Braised Fennel:
  • 1 fennel, cut into 10 pieces
  • 1 orange, peeled and sectioned
  • 16 ounces water
  • ¼ Tablespoon cumin
  • ¼ piment d’espilette, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
    Lamb Pastilla:
  • 1 saddle of lamb
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 package spring roll wrappers
  • 10 basil leaves

Eggplant Caviar:

Preheat oven to 375° F. On a gas or charcoal grill, grill the eggplant, remove the skin and sauté in olive oil. Spread eggplant out on a baking tray lined with a silicon pad and bake in oven until dry. Add the chopped olives and herbs and refrigerate for one hour.

Braised Fennel:
Set oven to 380° F. In a pan set over medium – high heat, sauté fennel and oranges in olive oil. Add water, cumin, and pimento d’espilette. Cover and braise in oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside for serving.

Lamb Pastilla:
Season and portion meat into 10 pieces. On a hot grill, quickly sear the meat, keeping it very rare in the middle. Remove from heat and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Heat the vegetable oil in a deep sauce pot to 375° F. Whisk together the egg and milk to make an egg wash. Lay out one spring roll wrapper and brush each corner with egg wash. Place lamb in center and eggplant spread on top. Lay one leaf of basil on top and roll up like an egg roll. Place lamb roll in pot and deep fry for 3 minutes each.

To Serve:
Slice lamb roll crosswise and arrange halves on a plate. Serve with 1 slice of braised fennel.

Interview Cont'd
AT: What is your favorite question to ask during an interview for a potential new line cook?
PR: What do you want to be in 2 or 3 years? I want him to say – a chef or owner of a restaurant. I’m looking for people who want to work. I also have to see him working. I put them to work a bit before I hire them.

AT: What tips would you offer young chefs just getting started?
PR: Don’t be scared. Also the Food Network is not reality – the chefs we see on TV –it’s good for amateur cooking. Sometimes I ask people when I have an interview, “Why do you want to be a chef?” and they say, “I watch the food network a lot and I want to be a chef.” It’s good to have ambition, but you need to put your head down and work.

AT: What are your favorite cookbooks?
PR: I love the books from Alain Ducasse. I like Thomas Keller’s French Laundry cookbook – it’s one of the best cookbooks ever made.

AT: Do you collect a lot of cookbooks?
PR: I have between 400 and 500! I’m a collector of all the classic French books - Escoffier, Bocuse, etc. I have my collection at home. It’s too expensive to keep at the restaurant. I loan my books to younger chefs if they ask or are interested.

AT: What cities do you like for culinary travel?
PR: I like to go to Italy – Naples – to see the family of my father – and for pizza, pasta!

AT: What are your favorite restaurants in Las Vegas?
PR: Nobu I like for sushi or Charlie Palmer for steak.

AT: Where do you see yourself in 5 -10 years
PR: In Las Vegas, cooking. Not retired because I’m too young! I hope to open up my own restaurant some day in Las Vegas. Why not?

   Published: August 2005