Interview with Josh Green of Republic

by Marc Jay
09.24.2010

Marc Jay: Tucked away just five minutes off the strip is a brand new restaurant called Republic Kitchen and Bar. I’m sitting here with the Executive Chef, Mr. Josh Green. So, Josh tell us, your new place hasn’t been open long.

Josh Green: Well, we’ve been open about three weeks. We do American comfort food with a little healthy twist. What I mean by that is take all the comfort food from when you were a little kid and then make it a little healthier than normal.

Marc Jay: What days are you open and what kinds of specials are you doing?

Josh Green: We serve brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. so it’s a large amount of hours that we’re open. We can service every type of individual: people that work in entertainment, people that wake up late—they can still have brunch and feel like they’re not left out. Also we’re open for lunch and for dinner Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for lunch and then 4 p.m. to midnight for dinner. Then our late night menu goes from midnight to 2 a.m.

Marc Jay: When did you arrive in Vegas and how did you get into the cooking field?

Josh Green: I came out here when I was 18 from New York. I always had a passion for cooking—I loved it. So what I did was I just started going to hotel restaurant management school at UNOV and started getting more involved in hotel restaurants and cooking. I went to Disney World for two years, worked at Cinderella’s Royal Table and it was a great experience. I learned a vast amount of different areas in the kitchen. I knew that’s what I wanted to do, so I came back to Vegas and worked at a couple of restaurants on The Strip: Boa’s Steakhouse, Daniel Boulud, and a couple of other ones. I went to Chicago for a year, worked for a large company called Levee Restaurants which does concession catering and I learned a vast amount about the industry. Then I started my own catering business and traveled with a couple of bands and did a lot of Personal Chef stuff. I came by the opportunity to get involved with this restaurant and I took it and now it’s a great opportunity and it’s something that was always my dream.

Marc Jay: Now looking forward, it’s funny because obviously being from here, chefs in England have always been somewhat celebrities and I think now in America in the last few years these celebrity chefs are on TV, they’re in the magazines… where do you see yourself in the next five to ten years?

Josh Green: I feel that my persona and my attitude can help me go to the next level on TV and maybe be that celebrity chef just because I’m a very humble guy. I don’t think my foods the best, I don’t think my food’s the greatest out of everybody’s, you know. I do what I do and I love doing it so I think that attitude is going to help me become the person I want to be.

Marc Jay: Now, believe it or not, when I was a kid I always wanted to be a chef. My dad bought a couple bars and I was working in the kitchen and I couldn’t believe how stressful it was and hot and everyone was screaming and shouting across. Is it the same in every kitchen or is it different from kitchen to kitchen?

Josh Green: It’s different from kitchen to kitchen because it depends on the chef. It depends on the type of chef that you are. If you’re a guy that screams like a French restaurant then you know the whole attitude of the kitchen is going to change. If you’re very calm, cool, collected then your kitchen is going to be calm, cool, collected and that’s the way I run it because if you start yelling at people, some people are able to deal with it and some people aren’t. So if you have a calm, cool, collected kitchen, everyone usually takes into that way of life and it’s just very relaxed.

Marc Jay: How many people work in the kitchen with you?

Josh Green: I have a total of 18 people that work for me. We have about eight that work lunch and about nine that work dinner. So it’s two different shifts, lunch and dinner, and everybody works pretty well together.

Marc Jay: What would you say your closest comparator is in Vegas, or is there one?

Josh Green: There really isn’t one. I guess the one that I feel most compatible with is Todd English’s Brew Pub on the Las Vegas Strip in Aria but ours is a different attitude. It’s great food at a moderate price and that’s what I think Las Vegas needed. You know, they need something where you can go and you can feel comfortable and you’re not going to pay that high dollar and you can go and feel comfortable there and you can go in shorts, you can go in t-shirts and you don’t have to be dressed up to go.

Marc Jay: And I think that’s the benefit of you guys not being in a casino, you being off the strip because it almost feels like a Mom and Pop kind of place. You come here and you know everyone, it’s like a local hangout and you’ve created that very well. I know it’s only been three weeks but have you had any special events that you’ve been catering for yet?

Josh Green: We did a grand opening party which has 1,200 people, a large amount of people, and we do Monday Night Football. Sunday’s brunch is gigantic and then we do a lot of off-site catering as well, you know, I have my catering clientele. We did a huge party last week at a mansion off the Strip where we catered for about 30 people.

Marc Jay: So not only do you cook here you can actually hire this company to come and do your catering at your special events? Wonderful. Now also this restaurant is two floors and I noticed upstairs you have Wii set up. Do people come here, have dinner and play Wii upstairs?

Josh Green: Yeah we have Wii and board games upstairs. Board games vary from things we used to play in the 80s till the present. We’ve got Trouble, Shoots and Ladders, stuff that you played as a kid so it interacts with the style of food that we do because the style of food that we do is all stuff that you used to eat as a kid. We took turkey TV dinners from the 80s and we took that to the next level. Now we have a nice plate with turkey meat, stuffing, a cobbler and a vegetable. So you’re getting a little bit of each and we also have mac ‘n cheese and different things that you used to eat as a kid. That’s what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to bring the kid out in the adult.

Marc Jay: So it’s not as I recall 5-star dining, but it’s almost like fun but still great quality and quite affordable dishes. 

Josh Green: Yeah everything’s homemade, everything from the dressings to the desserts to, I mean everything is homemade. 

Marc Jay: So how does your regular Monday afternoon or Monday morning start? Do you have to come in and prepare most of the dishes?

Josh Green: Well I have two prep guys that come in and prep all my stuff that I train them to do and I usually come in at about 9 or 10 in the morning, get everything ready for lunch, do lunch, take a little break from 3 to 4 to get myself back into the mind set of “let’s do dinner” and then we go into dinner and I leave at about 1 or 2 in the morning so it’s a long day but it’s worth it.

Marc Jay: So if you ever get a day off how do you tend to relax and enjoy yourself?

Josh Green: Sleep (laughs).

Marc Jay: I know a lot of chefs and I talk to all of them and they all say the same thing, they work like 70/80 hours a week or whatever it is and they never have a day off and is this just the way it is in the chef world?

Josh Green: Yeah, that’s what it is, if you have that much passion for it you love doing it and you don’t really think about the hours. Like I never think about the hours, I work all day long and it’s just never comes to tuition where oh you know I’m working this many hours and it’s not about that, it’s about getting the job done and doing it right and it’s like a saying they used to say, “If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen.” Well that’s what it is, if you can’t deal with it, then you shouldn’t be in it.

Marc Jay: If you had to cook any dish at all, what is your favorite dish to cook? Do you have one?

Josh Green: I love cooking seafood but my favorite dish on the menu is a hamburger. I love the hamburger that we do, it’s an 8 oz. hamburger with cheese in the middle and you take a bite and the cheese just drips out and its homemade Texas toast so we grill it. But I also love the miso cod, we take a miso marinade with orange juice and pineapple and we soak cod in it for 24 to 48 hours so it gets that flavor and then we poach it in the liquid where it becomes really nice and soft.

Marc Jay: Now I know you never have time off but when you do have time off and you go out to eat, where is your favorite place to go besides where you work? You must have a top three restaurants in Vegas.

Josh Green: It’s really tough because I don’t go out that much and I eat a lot of basics. One of my favorites is the Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay. I love hamburgers and I’m a simple guy you know and a lot of chefs are simple people, they eat peanut butter and jelly and things that are easy to make. But Rao's at Caesar’s Palace, I grew up in New York and that Italian food I love it. And that’s really it from that aspect because I really don’t go out that much; I don’t get that much time off.

Marc Jay: So I have been hearing some amazing stuff about your Saturday and Sunday jazz brunch. The breakfast menu it seems incredible but for $16 you can eat almost as much and there’s some great selections. Tell us about what’s on the menu.

Josh Green: We have anything from eggs, French toast, waffles, smoked salmon platters. A banana wrap which is extremely different; it’s a yogurt, banana, peanut butter whole wheat wrap and strawberries and you know we also have pastries, breads, everything’s fresh, fresh-squeezed orange juice for $5, you can either get orange, grapefruit, apple tomato, all fresh-squeezed at the bar.

Marc Jay: Now what time does the brunch menu go from?

Josh Green: The brunch menu goes from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. We have price tiers—one which is continental which is all your pastries and breads for $7.99 all you can eat, continental and hot dishes and the hot dishes range from French toast, pancakes, waffles, cheese blintzes, omelets, all for $12.99 and then we have specialties like my favorite is chicken and waffles and you know everybody is actually talking about those now. You know chicken and waffles is huge in population right now because it’s something that kind of blew up and then you can have all of those for $16.99.

Marc Jay: And for $16.99 you can have two dishes right? Or three different?

Josh Green: As much as you can eat.

Marc Jay: Wow that’s incredible value for money. Now I know going back you already mentioned about these TV dinners. Now in my day in England if you bought TV dinners it means you were broke or on welfare almost and this obviously isn’t the same kind of thing but it’s a bit more high-end TV dinners. Where did the concept come from for the two choices? I know you do two different TV dinners, where did they come from. these ideas?

Josh Green: Well one of my partners grew up with TV dinners and he said, “Hey why don’t we do a TV dinner?” And I was like, “That’s a pretty good idea.” So we took it to the next level and now we have either turkey or meatloaf. Meatloaf comes with garlic mashed potatoes, a vegetable and a cobbler and the turkey comes with stuffing, a vegetable and cherry cobbler so it’s kind of like everything vegetable, a dessert and a starch all for $14.99/$15.99.

Marc Jay: Wow, I’m guessing its real turkey instead of the old manufactured one so it’s all good for you.

Josh Green: The turkeys come in in the morning—they’re all fresh. Everything is fresh, fresh, fresh. It’s the freshest you can get for the price.

Marc Jay: Now if people want to find out a little bit for information on you yourself do you have a website or how do people get in contact with you, do you have an e-mail address?

Josh Green: Well you can go to [email protected], you can also check out republickitchenandbar.com and also you can check out our catering company which is Dream Culinary Group that’s also tied into Republic Kitchen and Bar but to find out about Republic Kitchen and Bar is republickitchenandbar.com.

Marc Jay: Well I’m gonna stay here and try my first TV dinner for about 20 years and thank you once again Mr. Josh and great seeing you.

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