Executive Pastry Chef Derek Franceschini
Talk about a "by the bootstraps" success story. With no experience greater than a few local restaurants, Derek Franceschini had the moxie to walk into the kitchen of Boston's venerable Ritz-Carlton Hotel as a teenager and tell the Executive Chef that hiring him would be "the best decision he ever made."
"He gave me a shot," Franceschini recalls today, and from that shot--without a day of cooking school or college-- Chef Derek has risen to the leadership of the pastry shop serving two of Las Vegas' biggest resorts, the Luxor and Excalibur.
"I eat, sleep and drink pastry," says the beefy, straight-talking Franceschini. We don't think he means it literally, but then again, the shop does operate 24 hours a day, every day, which means, as he says his boss once pointed out to him, "When you're home sleeping and someone here is making a croissant for Starbucks, your name's on it." His 20 employees make breads and pastries for every venue from the Employee Dining Room to Tender steak house, and special events. On certain holidays, the shop will make as many as 10,000 desserts for each of the hotels' buffets. "Our record is 27 wedding cakes in one day," Derek says, with wide eyes.
After demonstrating a new concoction he's perfecting--S'mores on a stick--Derek shows us pictures of the 700 pound cake his team helped assemble for an episode of TLC'S Fabulous Cakes, and recalls perhaps the shop's most outrageous moment, when the Luxor President had them create a cake shaped like a toilet to send resident comedian Carrot Top as a get well present after a bad bout of stomach flu.
"Our motto is always bigger, always better, always over the top." Believe that.
Words and Photos: E.C. Gladstone
The Shops at Crystals Aria Las Vegas
3720 Las Vegas Boulevard South Las Vegas, NV 89158
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