Executive Pastry Chef Natalie Morgan
Natalie Morgan got an early start on her path in pastry. "My very first book, at the age of three, was called the ABC's of Baking. And I still use it!" Make no mistake, though, Morgan has progressed far beyond the basics when it comes to sweet sophistication. The small town Pennsylvania girl progressed through her CIA education swiftly and wasted no time getting to the big leagues; At the tender age of 19 she was already rolling dough at Thomas Keller's renowned Bouchon in the Venetian, and if anything her star has only risen from there, moving to the Mansion at MGM under the auspices of Joel Robuchon and primo patissier Kamel Guechida before making her own mark at Heritage Steak, the latest Vegas installation of Top Chef's Tom Collicchio.
"I have complete freedom here," Morgan says matter-of-factly, but adding that it's a freedom she uses with care, staying close to concepts she thinks diners will understand and appreciate easily--and then over delivering on them. "Simple presentations with bold, familiar flavors," is what Natalie likes. "Big taste in a small package--like me."The impossibly waif-like chef adds "If you make everything fresh every day, people eat that up. No pun intended!"
Seasonality is very important to Morgan, as well as taking advantage of Heritage's great wood burning grills. "We'll do grilled fruit in the Summer," she says, although her favorites at the moment include the Girl Scout thin mint-inspired Chocolate Mint dessert which she demonstrated for us, sweet corn fritters with sweet corn ice cream and blueberry compote, and brown butter semifreddo with hazelnut sage brittle and roasted hazelnut ice cream. Yes, she makes the ice creams right in Heritage's kitchen as well.
"I don't like to use any chemicals, any corn syrup, or anything molecular," Natalie says. In contrast to some of the edgier ideas she played with in the past, now the chef is enjoying getting back to fundamentals. "You don't need the tricks," she says. "You just need to take your time."
Words and Portrait: E.C. Gladstone Dessert photos courtesy MGM Resorts
The Shops at Crystals Aria Las Vegas
3720 Las Vegas Boulevard South Las Vegas, NV 89158
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