Frederic Robert, by no means old nor old looking, looks the part. He looks like he could be the head of such a large and prestigious hotel pastry department. He looks experienced. Boris Villatte, on the other hand, looks young enough that he could still be in school or doing an apprenticeship somewhere. So when Chef Robert introduced me to Chef Villatte, I was somewhat surprised. That surprise, however, soon gave way to an understanding as to how Chef Villatte is in the position that he is. Simply put, he is extremely bright, supremely knowledgeable, supremely energetic and supremely talented. I have no idea how old he really is nor does it matter.
Villatte, who trained at Maison Kayser, the famous Parisian Boulangerie, has experience that goes well beyond how old he appears. This experience translates into the 90 or so different bread varieties that he and his staff make at one time or another. On any given day they make a minimum of 60 different varieties of bread or 14,000 to 20,000 pieces per day in their state-of-the-art, climate controlled bakery. They supply all the breads to the entire hotel including specialized breads to each of the hotel's restaurants.
Bread baking, especially so many different varieties and at such high volumes is not easy work. Villatte and his staff work hard. He is at work everyday by 4AM and routinely works 14 hour days to oversee the continual cycle of baking fresh breads for the hungry hotel population.
I have never been one to take quantity over quality, but that is not an issue here, as Villatte maintains superb quality of product. I had the opportunity to eat a number of his breads throughout my stay at the Wynn and all were outstanding. During my tour, I tasted some flaky, savory rounds that he was experimenting with for the soon to open Encore!, the all-suite, sister hotel to the Wynn. With some containing ham and sun-dried tomatoes and others with bacon and leeks, these were absolutely wonderful – meals in themselves.
The equipment includes several brand new state of the art baking ovens as well as practically any other toy a bread baker could hope for, including devices to mix dough, bagel extruders, flat-bread producing machines and much, much more. There were a number of proofing rooms as well to proof the various types of breads to be made.
As I was leaving, I watched one of Villate's artisans create a beautifully braided bread loaf. She made what she was doing look so easy. Boris Villatte does that for the entire bread baking program at the Wynn. That makes it one of the premiere magic show in all of Las Vegas.
For more photos, please see the album.