Tim Doolittle packs up for Vegas.

The Portable Chef 

Tim Doolittle packs up for Vegas.

Chefs come, and chefs go. Most of the time, I'm sorry when chefs I admire pack up their knives and move to another city. I actually went into a brief state of mourning several years ago at the departure of charismatic Mike Saluzzi, who was last seen in the kitchen of the now-defunct Altizio's Italian Restaurant in Overland Park. Saluzzi was the best thing about that joint, and when he took a hike in 2003, Altizio's lost a lot of vitality. In fact, the restaurant didn't stay open much longer. Saluzzi, a New York native, kept moving west — according to his most recent e-mails to me, he has now opened his own place, named after himself, in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

More recently: I never got a chance to see chef Tim Doolittle in his last Kansas City gig, heading up the kitchen at The Café at Briarcliff Village. Doolittle — a veteran of some of Kansas City's best dining spots, including EBT, Joe D's Wine Bar, Café Allegro and the Stolen Grill — decided to leave The Café in February. But he was conflicted about his next move.

"I was sitting at the bar at Le Fou Frog, telling people that I had had my fill of Kansas City and, half-seriously, that I just might pack up and move to Vegas," Doolittle tells me. "And one of the waiters there turned to me and said that he had a friend who was an executive with Wolfgang Puck's company, overseeing the Vegas restaurants."

Before he could say Viva Las Vegas, Doolittle was on a plane to Sin City for a job interview, and when I spoke to him last week, he had accepted a position with Puck's successful Postrio Restaurant in The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino on the Strip. He'll begin work in the Postrio kitchen on May 1.

"It's a strange place, Vegas," Doolittle says, "but I'm looking forward to living there. I hadn't been in 16 years, and it's changed a lot."

He says he'll miss many of the people in Kansas City. "I had a lot of customers follow me from restaurant to restaurant, and they were very supportive. I hope they'll come and dine with me in Las Vegas."

After all, heading to The Venetian Resort is a lot more convenient than going to the real Venice.

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