The Carson Nugget Steak House will go through some changes in the next couple of months, namely a revamped menu while one of its own vies for a spot on a nationally televised cooking competition.
As for the menu, Food and Beverage Manager Nick DeMagistris said the idea is to modernize the restaurant's dishes by adding some new items, removing others and modernizing the way the restaurant presents its meals.
"Make it a little bit more upscale and classy," DeMagistris said.
Some of the items will stay on the menu, such as the filet and lobster, but all will get a visual makeover.
The idea, Executive Chef Alex Canas said, is to make it "more sexy."
Canas said many of the dishes for the new menu, which is planned to launch next month, stem from the restaurant's monthly wine pairing dinners such as a pistachio and spice hanger steak salad.
DeMagistris, 24, who started at the Nugget in March, is also auditioning for a spot on Bravo's "Top Chef," which pits chefs in a televised five-week culinary competition for $125,000.
To apply for the show, DeMagistris had to answer about 20 pages of questions - for example, how would he recreate meatloaf into a gourmet meal? - and submit a five-minute audition video.
You can watch the video online. Go to YouTube and search "Nick DeMagistris."
DeMagistris got his start in the kitchen when he was 14, beginning as a dishwasher at B'Sghetti's in Carson City and working his way to cook.
After graduating from high school he went to Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., for culinary training. After restaurant jobs in Providence and Tampa, Fla., DeMagistris found work at Zed451 in Chicago until financial pressures prompted him late last year to pack up and come back home to Carson City.
"I was down to my last dollar," DeMagistris said.
In a matter of weeks after leaving Chicago, he was working at the Nugget.
"This is the first place I truly liked working at," DeMagistris said. "Right now it's about surviving, it's about the economy."
Since then, DeMagistris, Canas and Maitre D' Charles Bloomfield have continued the steak house's monthly seven-course dinners through the winter months, featuring a vineyard or brewery to pair with the meal.
Canas said the three of them sit down each month to taste various wines and draft menu ideas for the monthly dinner. DeMagistris takes the ideas and begins his process of creating the meal, taking new twists on familiar dishes that he likes to call "new school cooking."
The steak house, which seats 94, typically sells out for the dinners, with the next one scheduled Dec. 28 - DeMagistris' 25th birthday. On Jan. 25, the wine pairing dinner will feature all organic and sustainably farmed food and wine.
Besides the wine-pairing dinner this month, the restaurant will feature a free Christmas Day special in the Nugget coffee shop and a New Year's Eve five course dinner for $85.