Noca's New Chef Is 27 Years Old, Has Worked with Four James Beard Award Winners, and "Killed" the Tasting, Says Owner Eliot Wexler

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Usually, phone calls at 2 a.m. bring no good, but for Noca owner Eliot Wexler, this one was a welcome wake-up.

The call came from 27-year-old chef Matt Taylor. Taylor, currently working at the Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas with celebrity chef Michael Mina, had called to inquire about the executive chef position at Noca, which chef Chris Curtiss had left at the end of June.

"He came out to do a tasting at Noca a couple of weeks ago," Wexler told me, "And the kid just killed it."

Before moving to Vegas, Taylor headed up the former Metro Brasserie in Scottsdale. Plus, he's worked with four James Beard Award winners, including local faves Bradford Thompson and Robert McGrath, and southern Louisiana powerhouse John Besh. Oh,and molecular gastronomy god Wylie Dufresne? Taylor's spent time with him, too.

Hired? Damn skippy he was.

What can Noca diners expect from the new chef? When will he start and what's this about Taylor and Wexler trippin' to San Francisco? Find out after the jump.

"I think of the chef at Noca as a muse for the ingredients," Wexler says. "Matt will be bringing new techniques to the restaurant and an incredible wealth of experience."

Wexler adds that Noca will still be a force of modern American cuisine and that with Taylor coming on board, diners can look forward to goodies like an amped-up "nocawich" sandwich menu, a kick-ass burger, funky bar bites, and Southern-style simple suppers.

"Our fried chicken at the end on the month is about to get a whole lot better, too," Wexler says. "He [Taylor] is very versatile, and the benefit to his working in Vegas is Noca-esque food successfully executed at an incredible volume."

Taylor is expected to start within the next month. Prior to that, he and Wexler will be headed to San Francisco to check out some new restaurant goings-on.

"He's going to be great," Wexler says, "The team at Noca have been doing an amazing job during this time of transition. They're looking forward to working with him as much as I am."

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