Husband and Wife Team, Megan and Joe Romano, met back at Aureole in Manhattan in 1993. Megan, a graduate of Northwestern University, worked at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago and Lespinasse in NYC before joining Aureole. Joe, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, joined Aureole right after graduating working his way up the ladder to Executive Chef at Aureole in Las Vegas. Always looking for a challenge, Megan ventured off to open her own bakery, Chocolate & Spice, and write her 1st cookbook, “It’s a Sweet Life”, while Joe started working with Golden Entertainment, Inc. They took time out this summer to provide Sweet Travels with the inside scoops on their favorite desserts, entrees and travels.
What is your favorite dessert?
Megan: Since childhood it’s always been homemade cookies and ice cream from our local spot! Now we make ice cream at home with our kids. Oreo cookie, fresh mint chip, and banana peanut butter swirl for Joe.
Joe: Lemon curd tart with burnt meringue.
Most memorable sweet while traveling?
Megan: There are so many but pistachio gelato in Sicily at Mt Etna might be the best.
Joe: Ice cream In Sardinia.
Describe the most challenging customer order and why?
Megan: Some of your toughest customers are your biggest fans because they love what you do and always want to raise the bar. My most challenging set up was a 5 tier wedding cake transported to a humid climate and set up outside using BUTTERCREAM frosting. Needless to say, everyone was impressed that the cake gracefully tilted at a sharp angle, this was not part of the plan!
Joe: A person that likes to recreate a dish with substitutions and then sends it back because they do not like it.
If you could work with one chef/baker for a night who would it be and why?
Megan: Chef David Chang would be fun to spend a day with!
Joe: My great grandmother. My memories of her cooking in the kitchen are ingrained in my mind. Now that I am older I have so many questions to ask her.
Who influenced you the most in your career?
Megan: I have trained with some of the very best chefs in the country but it turns out that my husband has been the most influential in my career. He is the most talented chef I have worked with yet, incredibly motivating and makes cooking fun.
Joe: Blake Sartini, President of Golden Entertainment. My passion for food was always there but when it comes to truly learning how to operate a business, he is the man.
What is your favorite gelato/sorbet and drink pairing?
Megan: This sounds a bit unusual but you really need to try it. Avocado tequila lime sorbet! I serve it by lining the rim of the glass with salt and sugar lime zest. Joe makes the best margaritas and I add the avocado tequila lime sorbet. The avocado gives the sorbet a really smooth, creamy texture.
Joe: My favorite sorbet would be concord grape paired with Graham’s Six Grapes porto.
For your last dinner, what would you order?
Megan: Fresh Parmesan and Ricotta ravioli with shaved proscuitto.
Joe: Chicken cutlets with pesto.
At home, what is your go-to meal?
Megan: Lately I have been making burrata panzanella salad with grilled chicken. It is summer time in Vegas and very hot. For the panzanella salad we use vine-ripe tomatoes, peaches, endive, haricot verts, cucumber, arugula, garlic toasted croutons, homemade pesto and balsamic vinaigrette.
Joe: Pasta with butter and toasted garlic.
What advice do you have for someone looking to open their own cafe/restaurant?
Megan: Know your costs to operate the business and spend the right amount to open so that you can operate with some money in the bank. Also, be sure you get an assignable lease in the event things do not work out. This allows you a way out.
Joe: There are lots of extremely talented chefs out there but when you own your own business the thing you love to do the most (cooking) falls way down on the daily list. Make sure you KNOW the business side as this is where you enable your success.
What is latest food craze in Las Vegas or Bozman?
Megan: Casual street food has been popular in the last few years from ramen noodles, fried chicken, tacos, to gourmet shaved ice.
Joe: It is all about ramen noodles now.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Megan: Thailand, Spain, and Bora Bora.
Joe: Modena, Italy.
What restaurant is on your 2016 Bucket List to visit?
Megan: Noma, a restaurant in Copenhagen, sounds very interesting. It is scheduled to close on New Year’s Eve this year with plans to relocate and reopen hopefully in 2017.
Joe: Osteria Francescana in Modena was just rated the World’s best restaurant in 2016.
During your “free” time this summer, what books are you planning to read?
Megan: This summer I plan to read The Last Mile, Boys in the Boat, I am the Message, and The Luckiest Girl.
Photos courtesy of Megan Romano.