DJT, the signature restaurant at Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, is led by the talented executive chef, Sydney Jones, who likes to utilize local and season ingredients to curate their gourmet menu of modern American dishes. Originally from Mississippi, Jones started his culinary career at the age of 22 and credits his family’s love of new and innovative cuisine for helping to spark his lifelong passion for cooking. After graduating from the esteemed Le Cordon Bleu College in Chicago, Jones would hone is skills at the Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts, where he would spend 10 years at their resorts in Scottsdale, Arizona as well as Palo Alto, California, before spending six years at Four Seasons Atlanta. He accepted a position overseeing all aspects of culinary operations at Trump International Hotel Las Vegas where his experience working at 5-star hotels made him the perfect fit. He’s brought cutting-edge and progressive techniques to DJT, wowing audiences from around the world during that time. We spoke with Jones for our latest Chef Talk installment, where he shares what makes a meal at DJT so special.
What excites you about cooking in Las Vegas?
Cooking in Las Vegas is a great resume builder for a variety of reasons. As a chef you really have the opportunity to explore so many types of cuisine and restaurant operations. Operating and cooking in a big restaurant vs a smaller venue is very different. You learn how a variety of kitchens work and operate. Cooking is obviously the best part, but Las Vegas is also a great place to network and learn.
What is it about cooking for a Las Vegas audience that is different than other major foodie markets?
Las Vegas is such a transient market, because we are visited by a lot of different people from all over the world. We are a destination spot so everyone arrives with different tastes. As a chef you not only have to cater to these tastes but also entice people to try food that is out of their comfort zone.
What goes into curating your menu?
When curating our menu we consider our clientele, seasonality of our ingredients, price point and the capabilities of our kitchen staff.
Do you feel a menu can have more “risks” in Las Vegas as opposed to other markets?
Yes and no. At DJT, we run a smaller operation than the larger on-Strip restaurants. We can change the menu more frequently and explore a variety of menu items and ingredients, so in that sense, yes our menu can take more risks. Other on-Strip properties can’t do this because they are packed all night and need their menu to be pretty regular otherwise there will be major repercussions. On the opposing end, there is always the balance of trying new dishes and cuisine while also catering to guests that want food that is in their comfort zone. If the menu takes to many risks then it becomes inaccessible to your guests, which again causes major repercussions.
How often do you add/subtract menu items?
We change our menu once every 3-4 months.
Where do you source your ingredients from?
Not many people know that we have a great farm-to-table program. We source locally as much as we can. For example, we get our honey from Pahrump. Our organic eggs, micro greens and herbs for our entrees and cocktails come from Herbs by Diane in Boulder City. We also use these local herbs in our in-house infusion room. DJT also gets its bison from Durham Ranch in Reno, and our dates come from Palm Springs.
Do you do seasonal specials?
Yes, we place emphasis on bringing in the freshest ingredients based on seasonal availability. Everything should be seasonal.
What are your favorite items on the menu?
I enjoy the baby kale salad and heirloom tomato bruscetta with burrata cheese to start. If you are here for lunch, definitely the rueben sandwich. For dinner I recommend our steak & frites, featuring our thinly cut spiral fried potato chips. These chips are my favorite to snack on.
What dishes are a “must” if it’s your first time here?
Everything! For first timers, I recommend the salmon or our cioppino. Our cast iron seared salmon is a light dish accompanied by roasted cauliflower puree, citrus fennel broth and Kalamata olive relish. Our cioppino has a ton of seafood. We use roasted tiger prawns and grilled octopus in a roasted tomato stew with a baguette. Delicious!
Describe your restaurant in one sentence?
DJT features high-quality ingredients masterfully prepared in an all-day dining restaurant scene.
DJT Restaurant at Trump International Hotel Las Vegas
2000 Fashion Show Dr.
Las Vegas, NV 89109