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FAIRBANKS STEAKHOUSE HOLLYWOOD CASINO® TUNICA RESORTS REVIEW
By Jen Cuthbertson
Excitement is “Blazing” at Fairbanks® Steakhouse
You can feel excitement in the air at Hollywood Casino Tunica's Fairbanks Restaurant. There is a new dream team combining years of global fine dining experience with the goal of making your dining event a most enjoyable and memorable occasion. General Manager Gene Schnell and Maitre'd Werner Lechner are busy creating a new menu with exciting preparations and presentations for your next visit.
When Gene Schnell recently joined the staff at Fairbanks he met Lechner and knew right away they could combine their talents and knowledge to make the steakhouse like no other in Mississippi. Assistant Food and Beverage Director Toney Hall says, "We are bringing a very competitively priced menu and dining experience like none other in the area. In addition to Gene and Werner, we have an advantage with our all-star team including Food and Beverage Director Don Sally, Executive Chef Gary Riley, Chef D' Cuisine Ben E. Wilson and an unbelievably hard working, well-trained staff. We can provide the best dining experience around."
With accolades at several high-end restaurants world wide, Schnell's road to Tunica has been an exciting and interesting tale full of movie stars, tropical resorts, and a lot of miles. Gene's journey began from his home state of Florida, and after moving to Canada to work as a server, he met Bill Harrah, founder of gaming giant Harrah's. Mr. Harrah told Gene, "When your Visa runs out come see me, I will take care of you." As predicted, Gene's Visa ran out, and he made the call to Harrah. He soon found himself headed to Lake Tahoe.
"When I first met Werner Lechner, I knew we would make the perfect Dream Team," commented Schnell. "With our combined knowledge and experience we will take Fairbanks to new limits, offering Hollywood Casino patrons the extraordinary."
When you visit Fairbanks Steakhouse on the second floor (just off the casino floor) you will most likely be greeted by the charismatic Lechner and his delightful Bavarian accent. It is here where the whole experience begins. Lechner and Schnell are pulling together a new menu set to be released in July. "The new menu will be out in July and will not be like the typical menus you see in most steakhouses," says Schnell. "We will be serving tableside flaming desserts such as Bananas Foster and Berry Flambé. Our staff is going through extensive training to bring our customers the best in service and food."
On a recent visit our group of four was greeted by Lechner, who made us feel as if we were family returning home from a long voyage. Then, Schnell greeted us and showed us to our table next to a window overlooking the movie memorabilia and casino floor of Hollywood. After Schnell placed linens in our laps, a back waiter poured bottled water and presented the menus as our main server, Adrian Wallace, offered dinner cocktails and wine, and announced the Chef's Special of the Day. You can't go wrong with drinks from Jen, the bartender who has been with Fairbanks for seven years.
Soon, a variety of fresh-baked breads with piped butter in the design of a yellow rose were brought to the table. For appetizers we enjoyed mouth-watering fresh-sliced seared Tuna in a sauce, Crab Cakes, and huge colossal Crab Legs with drawn butter. Then, a creamy Lobster Bisque and House Salads arrived. The Bisque was very tasty with tender bites of lobster scattered throughout.
Our selected entrées consisted of Steak Filet, Lamb Chops, Steak Diane and the Asian Seafood Bird's Nest. The steak eaters were thrilled with their selections as they were cooked to perfection and very tender. The Lamb Chops were also cooked just the way you like them, and accompanied with baby zucchini, squash buttons and carrots. The Asian Seafood Bird's Nest was a delight, full of delicious shrimp, lobster, scallops and veggies served with a spicy sweet white sauce.
When dessert time arrived there was a sense of energy in the air. We feasted on Vanilla Crème Brule that boasted a smooth and rich vanilla flavor, and Bananas Foster with Vanilla Ice Cream, prepared tableside by our server. In addition, Bread Pudding hit the spot.
Server Adrian Wallace prepares a mouth watering flaming Banana Foster Table side.
Adrian caramelizes a Vanilla Crème Brule for Fairbanks Guest, Melissa Dixon of Richmond, Texas.
At Fairbanks it is evident the employees like their jobs. I asked one of the servers how long he had been working at the restaurant and he commented, "I don't work. I can't even think of this as work or a job. I love the customers, the people I work with and everything I do. We are all a team bringing smiles and good times to the people we serve." With that kind of contagious attitude spilling over, the whole dining room feels it.
The Dream Team will be planning, training, ordering, changing and implementing all kinds of surprises and updates for you at Fairbanks. The excitement is obvious of the new progressive attitude on the floor. Be sure to stop in and enjoy the labors of the very talented very thoughtful staff where you are special and will be treated like a star!
● Gene became a favorite and very popular with the Rich and Famous. The Summit at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe became the first 5 star 5 diamond restaurant in the State of Nevada. Movie stars such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Cher, Don Rickles, Dionne Warwick, and Whitney Houston enjoyed meals prepared at their private suite tables by Maitre‘d Gene Shinnell.
● Excalibur Las Vegas where Gene won the very prestigious “Zabat” Award at the Same Lot Steakhouse.
● Under Gene’s command as Director of Fine Dining at Luxor Casino The Isis was rated Number 7 Gourmet room in the United States by American Hospitality.
● The Hawaiian Islands were home for Gene at the Mauna Lani Resort which was rated Top 10 Resorts in the World by Conde Nest Magazine.
● Followed by Canoe House Manager where it was voted #1 restaurant in the Hawaiian Islands.
● The all exclusive Laplay Beach Hotel exclusive private club Gene managed before coming back to the mainland.
● Mandalay Bay “VIP” Butler Operations
● Circus Circus Director of Fine Dining
Gene Schnell gives a table side fire show while he prepares a sauce of Chambord and Grand Marnier which is flamed. He masterfully pours the flaming sauces back and forth between the wine serving glasses creating a spill of fire and then gently pours the sauce over a mix of four different kinds of berries covering scoops of vanilla ice cream.
● Born in Garnisch, West Germany
● Werner has made stops along the way working for the Wyndham Hotel in Aruba, Caribbean, Hotel Quellenhof in Germany, Jumby Bay Resort Antiqua, Caribbean, The Trump Hotels in Atlantic City, NJ.
● Werner’s education includes apprenticeship at Hotel Markplatza in Germany and Cornell University.
● Early in Werner’s career his work experience and training was gained at prestigious properties such as Luchow’s Restaurant in New York City, Rockfeller Center, New York City, Manager of the Great Cattlemen’s Restaurant in NY, Sea and Surf in Boston, Food and Beverage Director at Lincoln Regent Hotel in Dallas, Texas, Founder /Partner of Kirby’s Restaurant Dallas, Tx, Food and Beverage Director Embassy Suites Hotel, Denver CO, Chef – Owner Blue Mill Bistro, Dallas, TX, The Fountainbleu in Miami,Fl, Bayerischer Hof in Mucich, West Germany, as well as various other positions in Germany, England, and Lebanon.
● To mention a few of the special achievements and awards include: as Chef-Owner of Lechner’s Gourmet, of Boston’s Premier restaurants he held for eight consecutive years the 4 Star Winner within the Boston newspapers and magazines. Also his restaurant achieved placement in the top 100 Best Restaurants in the USA by Esquire Magazine. Werner won awards for best menu in the USA, Best coffee and best dessert in Boston. Certified Food and Beverage Executive, American Hotel and Motel Association – Cornell Hotel – Chase Food and Beverage Program, Winner / 1st in Class.
Executive Chef Gary Riley
Gary Riley began his culinary career in Las Vegas at the Famous Stardust Casino at the age of 23. At 51 he enjoys overseeing 135 employees at Hollywood Casino Tunica where he is the executive chef. Since joining the team at Hollywood Casino Gary has brought exciting changes to their food venues. Gary’s commitment to quality and variety shines through the menu offerings. When asked why did he choose to be a chef he replied, “As a kid I loved food. Being a chef was the closest thing to working in a pie factory and that was my dream when I was a kid”.
Chef Ben Wilson
Hollywood Casino Tunica Fairbank's Steak House Room Chef Ben Wilson.
Monday thru Thursday - 5:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Friday/Saturday - 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Sunday - 4:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Reservations are suggested. 1-800-871-0711