Having built significant followings at a pair of Las Vegas eateries that he co-owns, it was just a matter of time before award winning accolades started coming for Chef Oscar Amador Edo. That is in fact exactly what happened to him, as Amador Edo garnered a semi-final nomination by the James Beard Foundation last month.
Raised in Barcelona, Chef Oscar Amador Edo fell in love with Catalonia’s rich culinary traditions at an early age. He grew up “10 minutes away from the Mediterranean where the quality of the seafood is unbelievable.” After graduating from the prestigious Hofmann BCN Chef School, he had the opportunity to stage at El Racó de Can Fabes, a three Michelin Star awarded restaurant.
Following his success owning and operating Ajo Negro, TapeArt, and A Mano for over a decade in his native Spain, Chef Oscar decided to move to Las Vegas to conquer the American palate. He cooked at the prestigious Le Cirque for six months before launching his street catering business and then EDO Tapas & Wine in 2018.
Anyone who’s ever moved countries can attest, the status achieved back home doesn’t easily transfer to your new environment. Despite Edo’s extensive experience and success back in Barcelona as a high-end chef and restaurateur accustomed to creating tasting menus of Michelin-level excellence, he had never worked in a U.S. kitchen and did not know its distinct ‘system.’ It took a while for anyone to take a gamble on him.
Oscar was eventually hired at the prestigious Le Cirque. However, it did not take long for him to realize this was not where he wanted to grow his state-side trajectory. Chef offered, “It was just not a good fit for me. At the end of the day, I just felt like a number.”
Resigning from his position at Le Cirque six months after he started, Edo felt disillusioned; the dream he had envisioned unfolding in Las Vegas seemed a million miles away. With five kids and a wife to support, there was also the added pressure of needing to bring home the proverbial bacon. Chef shares his unpredictable pivot, ‘After Le Cirque; I was self-employed for many years, so, it was hard. I decided to open a food truck. We used to make some nice sandwiches. I opened it with my excellent partner Roberto Liendo. We invested in the food truck and started the business, which was good. We started doing a lot of events. I met a lot of chefs and made a lot of contacts. And then, because of the food truck, we found other investors to open up our first restaurant EDO.’
Chef Oscar offered, ‘Working in the food truck was probably the hardest job of my life. The great takeaway, however, shared Oscar, was the satisfaction of standing for what you want, moving forward at any cost, and having doors of opportunity open. Edo shared, ‘I feel like I had to take that big step back to move forward. “Working in the food truck was the hardest job of my life but I felt like I had to take that big step back to move forward. In the end, it was all worth it. I am especially thrilled to be a Semi-Finalist in the James Beard Awards this year for Anima!”
Chef Oscar’s approach is to add a modern and innovative twist inspired by great cuisines from around the world to classic Spanish recipes. Chef Oscar loves to cook oysters, uni, clams, mussels, octopus, and turbot because “they most represent his culture.” The “goal of the restaurant is to bring the experience of eating in Barcelona to the customer, and for that you need the best product.” His only rule is to deliver the best combinations, awakening our senses to new flavors, aromas, and textures, ultimately creating new memories for his guests.
EDO is tucked into a busy, restaurant-heavy shopping center in Las Vegas. The outside is understated but intriguing, with dark windows and red wood trim. EDO’s interior is highlighted by colorful murals, intimate space and a chandelier. Guests escape the bustling city as they enter an intimate red-gold dining room with large murals, textured walls and dark wood.
Chef Oscar’s second restaurant Anima (meaning “soul”) is intriguing in a different way. Unlike EDO, guests see everything. It’s significantly larger but exudes the same intimate ambiance of EDO. The space is brighter with a semi-open kitchen and chef’s-table style dining bar. Additionally, Anima’s offerings include a charcuterie and seafood counter plus a cocktail bar.
There are colorful murals here, too; the largest is an octopus painting that is visible from all parts of the main entry and surrounding area. The walls of the restaurant are white and bright, the trim is dark wood, and the seating brings in luxurious red tones against warm, wooden tables. The relationship of Anima to EDO is in these details, while maintaining its own look and feel.
Where EDO sits in the middle of Las Vegas’s energetic Chinatown, Anima is almost tranquil. The restaurant is situated on a ground floor space in the multi-use, modern, and quiet community called The Gramercy. The upscale neighborhood is a collection of condominiums, offices, shops and restaurants.
“We felt that this immediate area here is the newest, really booming area where the demographics [fit our newest ideas] well,” says Roberto Liendo, partner in EDO and Anima by EDO. He says the area was ready for a concept that is a little “more on the edgy side… [something] a little more creative, a little more modern.”
The two restaurants are related, but each location has its own personality. Both include Catalan-Spanish influence; however, EDO tends toward Asian and other global influences while Anima has an Italian twist. Chef Oscar’s goal has been to build partnerships that can support very different menus. “We have found that go-to source with Chefs’ Warehouse. I have been working with Chefs’ Warehouse for a very long time and they always make the extra effort to get us the specialty ingredients we need, chef Oscar noted. My Chefs’ Warehouse Sales Rep. Anthony Angotta is doing such a great job. He really takes care of us in terms of sourcing and pricing. Anthony’s help is very important and appreciated.”
Whether opening new restaurants or expanding on existing ones, Las Vegas is not an easy place to do either. Not every restaurateur has the backing of a celebrity or hospitality group. The local dining scene enjoys the celebrity and big-group restaurants, of course, but it’s protective–almost fiercely–of the chef-owner-entrepreneur. So, when chefs like Chef Oscar Amador Edo find success, growth and contribute to the community, they represent a special achievement for all.
To learn more about EDO and Chef Oscar Amador Edo, visit their website