By Lila Asnani, Foodable Contributor
Meet Daniel Krohmer who is 35 years old and is the executive chef and owner of Other Mama restaurant in Las Vegas. Daniel is originally from California and has had a varied experience in his 17 years in the food industry.
Daniel started his career at a Japanese restaurant in Sacramento and then went on to work in Japan. He came back to the United States to work at a farm-to-table American restaurant in California. From there, he went on to a successful career with Morimoto in Philadelphia. He has also worked as the head chef for different musical acts such as the Coachella music festival and Taylor Swift.
Describe briefly the genesis of your restaurant.
DK: I was burned out working for other people and the frustration of having to do other people’s food. It had always been in the back of my mind to open a restaurant and I wanted it to be product focused, simple and clean. I wanted my place to be neutral and not fit into a particular cultural parameter which is why I chose the name Other Mama, which has no cultural distinction.
The restaurant is a raw bar and we focus on serving more seasonal and wild line caught products which are better for the environment. We also use the English names because I want to be honest and transparent. I want to let people know what they’re eating, why they’re eating it and why it’s a good time of the year to be eating it.
It sounds like you have a lot of integrity for your work. You respect what you do and your customers.
DK: I’d like to think that I have some impact in what I chose to do. I have seen a lot of sushi bars that started out focusing on the nigiri or fish and then change to adapt to their customer’s requests rather than their original focus. Customers are important but you have to have the integrity to say that this is how we are going to do it. People will come and it may be slower than you want it but people will come if you are consistent to your belief which is why I wanted a small restaurant. I know I am not for everybody.
Tell me about your food. I know that some people have called it Asian-fusion. What do you call what you cook?
DK: I see my restaurant as modern American. I grew up eating sushi and this is not just unique to me. We all eat different types of food regularly and we have the accessibility to this diversity in all parts of our lives. America is a mix we have to celebrate. We should be proud that we’re creating a new food identity and not just call it fusion.
How old is your restaurant and how has the reception been so far?
DK: It is three months old and we have had an amazing reception. People in Vegas are excited to see new restaurants off the strip. A big part of our clientele is industry people and this is very flattering. They know what’s going on and they know their options and they choose to come here. The press has also been very supportive and honest in helping to promote good food and happenings.
What are some challenges you have faced in opening a restaurant specifically to Vegas?
DK: Construction and dealing sometimes with shady builders can be a problem. Sourcing products is tougher in Vegas because we don’t eat local. So you have to try to get the best import and find the right supplier. Thankfully, the casinos are already bringing in a higher end product so we can piggy back off that.
What excites you about the Vegas food scene?
DK: The food scene off the Strip is young and it’s an open slate. There is no monopoly so there is an open forum to really do something that people will know about. I like the comparison and challenge to the Strip. I like that I can stand with the big chefs with big budgets and compete when we are together on the city’s top 20 restaurants list.
What trends to you see in the restaurant industry particularly in Vegas?
DK: People are tired of the overstimulated dinners here. They have seen it and done it and can’t justify the price anymore. People are getting more educated about what they’re eating. They just want a clean, straight forward, real normal people dinner. There is a trend of getting back to basics, simple presentations cooked perfectly and seasoned right at a reasonable price.
Guilty Pleasure you like to indulge when no one is watching?
DK: Panda Express.
What drives you and where do you see yourself in 10 years?
DK: I want to live and know that I chose something, stuck with it and gave it everything that I could. Working with people who are just as passionate also drives me. I have the financial ability to create this restaurant and I want them to have the opportunity to excel within it. I would like to open and explore other concepts and partner with other professionals to create things that I want to go to, that I want to eat at. I want to support artisanal things and radiate my philosophy for small businesses.