The Best of the Red Hawk Casino may be Beyond the Tables & Slots at the Restaurants
Let gamblers enjoy the card tables and slot machines at the front of the house at Red Hawk Casino. Foodies would prefer to play in the rear.
Evan Smith holds the keys to much of this domain as the new vice president of food and beverage. His is the largest department, 400 of 1,400 workers. Six restaurants include Henry's Steakhouse, Pearl and Waterfall Buffet.
Smith took me behind the scenes where we chilled with salads and hors d'oeuvres in the garde-manger. He asked the head butcher to take a break from cutting beef short ribs to show me the prime short loins and rib-eyes that hang out in the dry-aging room for 25 to 30 days.
When we finally arrived at the front of the house at Henry's Steakhouse, he pointed out the $2,100 bottle of Louis XIII cognac and wines that sell for $20 to $400.
Smith basked in the activity of each kitchen. His formal culinary training was with an Austrian chef at Contra Costa College, and he also worked for a French chef at an eatery called Le Marquis in Lafayette.
"I worked six days at the restaurant, and I went to school five of those days," he said. "I pretty much lived, ate and breathed culinary arts every day of my life."
After college, he worked for two years at Chez Panisse in Berkeley before venturing out as a chef. He worked for 20 years in Lake Tahoe casinos, but he comes to Red Hawk from Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, north of Fresno, where he led the food and beverage unit.
As a senior manager at Red Hawk, Smith works closely with general manager Bryan deLugo to help improve the casino's fortunes. Owned by the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians and managed by Lakes Entertainment Inc., Red Hawk ...