Rick Moonen

Chef, Restaurateur, Author

Las Vegas

Chef Rick Moonen has always had a fascination with food. He followed his passion to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, where he graduated first in his class. Moonen used his training in top-notch New York kitchens, such as Le Cirque and The Water Club. Seafood became a big part of his life when he assumed the position of executive chef and partner at Oceana, then created Molyvos, a Greek fish house. Moonen went on to open his own restaurant, rm, in New York, but then headed to Las Vegas where he debuted rm seafood at Mandalay Bay in 2005. Aside from being a chef, Moonen is a devoted advocate for sustainable seafood. In 2008, he published his first cookbook, Fish Without a Doubt, which is a hands-on guide to buying, preparing and cooking a wide array of fish.

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  • On April 8, 2013
    Rick Moonen answered the question: Rick Moonen

    What are the best things to do in Las Vegas?

    I like outdoors, so I like to go hiking, cycling, dining. I like to go out and eat. It’s something I do all the time, except when I’m cooking at home. I like the shows — I like to find culture and see how this very young town is still evolving with an appreciation of the arts. Also, I like live music, so I like to go to shows and see people performing. I didn’t go to a lot of concerts, but when bands and groups come into Las Vegas — and they do all the time — I get to see them. I think it’s awesome.

    I like taking a walk with my dog and my wife in a park that’s an oasis near where I live. We’ll go do that at least four times a week just to get out and walk. I like taking in the mountains and the scenery. Las Vegas is so much more than the Strip, and I really like to take advantage of that.
  • On April 8, 2013
    Rick Moonen answered the question: Rick Moonen

    What are the best markets in Las Vegas?

    Asian markets — there’s 99 Ranch, which has a lot of live shellfish and seafood that I can purchase from if I’m not grabbing it from my restaurant. John Mull’s is the meat market that I just found, and it’s my new go-to. It’s been around in Vegas for like 50 years, but it’s really so remotely tucked away in the middle of nowhere.
  • On April 8, 2013
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    When is the best time to visit Las Vegas?

    I would say when it’s not quite so hot, so the spring and the fall seasons. But fall has a tendency to a little bit more gray because that’s when the clouds come in and hang.  There are parts in the fall that are amazing. Summer is too hot; and the winter, it actually gets kind of chilly.
  • On April 8, 2013
    Rick Moonen answered the question: Rick Moonen

    What are the best hotels in Las Vegas?

    I love what The Cosmopolitan is doing as far as its food and beverage program. It took it to another level, and I like being pushed that way. For really cool hotels, I think, of course, Wynn and MGM really do some great stuff inside their walls. I like The Venetian. I think The Mirage is working on things. Mandalay Bay, of course, first and foremost. I’d be remiss if I didn’t count what’s going on here. I think that Mandalay’s really cool. And I love watching the evolution of the rebuilding of the older hotels — older not being that old, but the history of Vegas has been, “Time for something new?” You blow up the building and you build a new one. Now we’re in a different economy and mindset. 

    I don’t think there’s going to be a new casino built on the Strip for a very long time. But what you’re going to see is a lot more redesign, rebuilding and renewing of the spaces. Stratosphere is going in a new direction right now, and it’s fun to go to. When I first moved to Vegas, going to the Stratosphere was of no interest to me whatsoever. Now, it’s doing some good stuff. The SLS is coming and rebuilding in an old hotel and casino. It’s going to put its brand on that. That’s neat. I can’t wait to see what they do because that’s hip and cool. That’s a continuation of what started, what The Cosmo introduced. So those are pretty much the top hotels that I think are really doing a great job.

    In downtown, there’s El Cortez and the Plaza putting more money into re-identifying who they are. I think that’s really cool. We’re starting to reestablish and celebrate our own history, and that’s happening downtown. I think that’s part of the aging and maturing of a city or town. We’re very young. And I love being a part of that.