In a significant step toward the anticipated summer debut of Nellie’s Southern Kitchen, the Jonas Brothers-owned restaurant announced its leading team: Executive Chef Mario Nichols and General Manager Michael Savage.
The food and entertainment destination in MGM Grand will feature Southern American cuisine based on dishes from the family’s Belmont, North Carolina, restaurant inspired by late matriarch Nellie Jonas’ treasured 100-year-old recipes.
Nichols hails from the Tar Heel State, where he began his culinary career, eventually owning his own eateries. That’s where he met father Kevin Jonas, Sr., leading to Nichols helming the original Nellie’s establishment.
“I was born and raised in North Carolina,” said Nichols, who brings related American foodways together in his kitchen creations. “I think soul food and Southern food are married, husband and wife.”
Nichols highlights one of his specialties for future Las Vegas Nellie’s diners: crispy grits cakes topped with blackened shrimp in a creamy Cajun sauce.
He also has a ringer appetizer planned — a Southern-style egg roll.
“It will be [filled with] barbecued chicken, drunken collard greens and mac ‘n’ cheese,” Nichols said.
Classics are in his plan, too.
“I’m anxious for people to try the family recipe for chicken and dumplings,” he said. “I think that everyone will enjoy that.”
And, as it’s a Southern-focused establishment, desserts are just as important on the menu as appetizers. So count on banana pudding, Red Velvet cake, double-chocolate cake, and other sweet treats.
While Nichols, who is four weeks fresh to Las Vegas, will be manning the galley, longtime Southern Nevada hospitality professional Michael Savage will be overseeing the dining room. (Of course, both will do much more every day.)
Savage has a formidable Las Vegas food-and-beverage resume, including leadership roles at Las Vegas establishments like Kerry’s Gourmet Burgers, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill and Nine Fine Irishmen.
“I’ve always had food and beverage in my blood,” said Savage.
With eyes on a June opening at Nellie’s Southern Kitchen, Savage looks forward to sharing the restaurant’s family-friendly atmosphere.
“We want everybody to feel as if they sat down at grandmas’ table, and she gave them a great big hug as they’re walking out the door,” he said.
Contact Greg Thilmont at email@example.com. Follow @gregthilmont on Instagram.