The desert entertainment mecca of Las Vegas might seem an unlikely place for thriving farms, but sit down with star chef Roy Ellamar, recently crowned with a major award from Eater, and he’ll set the record straight. He’s not only passionate about locally sourced ingredients, he’s compassionate about lending a hand to community members in need—including farmers.
Harvest by Roy Ellamar is his dream restaurant, focusing on farm-to-table new American cuisine. It opened in late 2015 in Bellagio and has planted new roots in the culinary world—taking the farm-to-table concept to new heights while giving back locally.
“We wanted to focus on local and regionally sourced ingredients and sort of tell a story about the people that bring those products to us,” Ellamar said. “We were able to create a network of local and regional growers to ensure we had the freshest ingredients possible.”
Harvest, with the support of Bellagio/MGM Resorts, was even able to save one farm from closing by committing to buy everything it grows.
“They are now becoming the largest employer in their county,” Ellamar said. “We’re sending out great food and making great memories, but we’re also having an impact on the people in our community.”
His cuisine is also making a major mark on the Vegas culinary scene. Ellamar was awarded Chef of the Year, Readers’ Choice Winner for the 2016 Eater Awards in Las Vegas.
“The People’s Choice award was very, very humbling for me because there are so many chefs in this city and it was a great group of nominees,” Ellamar said.
Ellamar was inspired at an early age to become a chef because he was always surrounded by great food and great ingredients.
“Growing up in Hawaii, we always knew where our food was coming from,” he said. “My grandpa had a small farm. So I had this deep understanding early on of what it takes to get food to the table, whether it be foraging, farming or raising animals.”
With the trend toward healthier dining, Harvest fits right in, Ellamar added.
“Right now a lot of guests are interested in knowing where their food comes from and really understanding the wellness aspect of the dining experience,” he said. “Our produce is organic and has not been treated with pesticides, and we are not using GMO-influenced foods, including the proteins. Things are being raised properly.”
As a farm-to-table dining experience, Harvest sets itself apart by adding a Vegas element to the experience, according to Ellamar.
“The restaurant is cool, it’s sexy, it looks nice, and the show kitchen that we have in the center of it really adds to the experience,” he said. “In a way, we are making a show of the farm-to-table experience.”
The show kitchen bodes well for group dining, according to Ellamar.
“It’s a great place where we can do cooking demos and hands-on cooking experiences,” he said. “We have had success with those programs, and we continue to look for ways to engage with our groups in-house.”
Harvest offers a large private dining room, and the venue can expand to include nearly 150 people in the back room. Up to roughly 250 people can be hosted for a full buyout.
Ellamar customized a deliciously local menu for a recent private group dinner that included everything from Miso-Glazed Steelhead Trout to Pittman Farms Roasted Organic Chicken to Painted Hills Ranch Grass-Fed Filet Mignon.