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Chef Sam DeMarco: The Bio

Chef Sammy DeMarco
CHEF SAM DEMARCO

Chef Sam DeMarco (aka Sammy D) has been on the restaurant scene for more than 30 years making a name for himself as a leader in modern and casual American cuisine. Sam became well-known as the “Chef to the Chefs” in the late 90’s at his inaugural restaurant venture – First– an East Village late-night hideaway where the culinary elite often kicked back after a long day.With countless additional New York establishments to his credit, Sam has led a life dedicated to the cut-throat and ever-developing restaurant industry. After making his mark on the Las Vegas strip over the past several years, this New York native is keeping one foot in Sin City and the other back on the East Coast as he prepares to make a splash at the Jersey Shore. His new restaurant concept – Sammy D’s, a retro coffee shop serving up unique twists on East Coast classics – opened in December 2011 at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City in partnership with Stephen Hanson’s BR Guest Hospitality.

In April of this year, Sammy teamed up with Chef Grant MacPherson & Crown Hotels in Melbourne, Australia to successfully open The Merrywell, an American Gastropub& Burger Bar.  A second Merrywell is set to open in September 2012 at The Burswood Hotel in Perth, Australia.  He is also set to commence his first collaboration with Renowned designer Antonio Ballatore, The Rattlecan, a strip accessible burger bar, located inside & outside the Venetian, in Autumn of 2012.

Working in restaurants since the age of 15, Sam was part of the pioneer culinary school class at New York Institute of Technology in Long Island, N.Y. He then honed his skillsas he moved through the ranks ofinnumerable NYC restaurant kitchens under prestigious and trendsettingchefs such as David Burke at River Café, Gray Kunz at The Peninsula Hotel, Jean-Michel Diot at Maxine’s Hotel, Michelle FitoussiatRegines, among many others. These experiences allowed Sam to master the classic French techniques while developing a diverse background in all cuisines including Asian, Latin and American. His first tasteof opening and fully operating a restaurant came with The Dock, a seasonal summer restaurant on Fire Island, he developed with restaurateur Phil Suarez.

At the young age of 29, Sam opened First in 1994– aptly named not only because it was his first big venture but also having been located on 1stAvenue in New York City’s bustling East Village. Opened for nearly a decade, it quickly became the late-night hotspot especially for the who’s who of the culinary world and was praised by global and national food media including The New York Times. Known as the “King of Casual,” his eclectic late-night menu gave way to several beloved “Sammy D” classics including Lollipop Wings, Goat Cheese Soufflé and Tiny Tinis.

In addition to the great success ofFirst, Sam has worked tirelessly on countless other restaurant projects. He opened Sam’s American andSam’s Snacks in partnership with Steve Wynn at Las Vegas’ prestigious Bellagio Hotel. Back in New York, he developed concepts and served as executive chef for many restaurants including the David Rockwell-designed District in Times Square and Merge in the West Village. Sam successfully revamped and re-launched several notable New York City hotel restaurants including Fireside in the Omni Berkshire,Oscars in the Waldorf Astoria, and the conference center catering at Millennium Broadway. Sam has been in Las Vegas since 2008 focused on his family and the opening of First Food & Bar at the Palazzo Hotel where he oversees all culinary operations. He is slated to open a new concept there in 2012. Sam recently foundedThe Ingredient Group,a multi-concept restaurant development company, out of his passion for being part of the continuous culinary evolution. With several projects in the works, Sam DeMarco is here to stay.

From a large Sicilian family, Sam learned the ins and outs of Italian food from his three great grandparents. As a child, Sunday dinners seemed like a chore but he never realized the lasting effects they would have – fond memories of endless food, family and laughs that he hopes to provide for his children as well. Sam is a dedicated family man who works hard to balance his professional and personal lives. He and his wife, Ellen, have two young daughters and live in Las Vegas.

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  • Attention bacon lovers: you're going to need to try our XXXLA BLTA

  • Sammy Ds makes a mean EggsBenedict #NationalEggsBenedictDay this Saturday!

  • Every night should be pizza night!

  • Happy Easter from all of us at Sammy D's!

  • Well be open today for #PresidentsDay. Come raise a glass in honor of your favorite President.