Chef Emeril Lagasse received his first culinary experience from his mother, Hilda, when he was a boy growing up in the small town of Fall River, Massachusetts. As a teenager, he worked at a Portuguese bakery where he mastered the art of bread and pastry baking. Upon high school graduation, Lagasse was offered a full scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music, but decided to pursue a career as a professional chef.
Chef de Cuisine
Growing up in Lancaster, NY, Scott Pajak could often be found in the kitchen – cooking chicken noodle soup and sauces with his grandparents, or helping his dad tend the grill and savoring the smoky aroma of barbecue.
From his very first job as a dishwasher at a local Italian restaurant, Pajak’s career has been centered on food ever since. In 1996, he moved to Las Vegas and enrolled at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, from which he received a bachelor’s of Culinary Arts Management in 2003. His most coveted experience while in culinary school was during a 6 month internship in Nanjing, China, where he mastered the art of wok cooking and had the privilege of preparing his first traditional Thanksgiving meal.
While at UNLV, he worked in numerous restaurants around Las Vegas, including Planet Hollywood, New York New York Casino and TPC Country Club, where he prepared meals for participants on the PGA Tour.
In 2002, Pajak entered the kitchen at Emeril Lagasse’s seafood eatery Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House as a line cook. Over the next 9 years, he would work in nearly every position in Lagasse’s kitchen, from saucier to butcher, eventually rising to the post of sous chef. He helped write the restaurant’s daily menus and showed off his creativity as he cooked for guests at the chef’s kitchen table.
In May 2011, Pajak was given the opportunity to lead his own team at one of Vegas’ biggest restaurants and sports venues, when he was promoted by Emeril Lagasse to chef de cuisine of Lagasse’s Stadium. At Stadium, he draws upon his love of the grill, the art of bold seasoning and his experiences in Lagasse’s fine-dining restaurant, to craft the menu of classic American favorites.
When he’s not working to feed hungry fans at Lagasse’s Stadium, Pajak enjoys watching the game and cooking some of his favorite tailgating food for his friends and family. Hailing from Buffalo, NY, it’s usually buffalo wings or kicked-up chili with black beans and ham hock. But his go-to dish at the Stadium – grilled ribeye – still takes him back to his youth.
Jerry Rodriguez comes to us with over 10 years of hospitality experience with the Venetian Casino and Resort. He is originally from Chicago, Illinois but set a path to Las Vegas to pursue his passion for working with people. At the Venetian, Jerry spent 7 years working with Human Resources and then transitioned to In-Suite Dining management followed by the management of the hotel Butler program. He is currently a member of the young leadership program with the Venetian where he continuously hones his leadership skills. In 2012, Rodriguez was named GM of Lagasse's Stadium located in the Palazzo Casino and Resort.