Born and raised in Las Vegas, NV, James Trees’ culinary career began as a teenager at the Mirage Hotel & Casino on the Strip prior to attending the Culinary Institute of America, then rising through the ranks under chefs including Michael Mina, Eric Ripert, Heston Blumenthal, and Bradley Ogden (James Beard Foundation Best New Restaurant award, the first for Las Vegas). After recovering from a near-fatal car crash, he opened multiple restaurants across the US as Corporate Sous Chef for the Mina Group (including XIV with Stephen Fretz).
James spent several seasons behind the scenes with Gordon Ramsay on Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen, then returned to LA to play a notable role in the recent Los Angeles food revival, with positions including Chef de Cuisine at FIG under Ray Garcia; and Corporate Chef for Superba Bread and Pitfire Artisan Pizza, one of the drivers of the SoCal pizza revival.
Deciding to bring it all back home, he opened the seasonal Italian concept Esther’s Kitchen in the Downtown Las Vegas Arts District as his first independent restaurant in January 2018 to almost instant acclaim (Multiple “Best Italian” and “Best of the City” nods from Gayot.com, Thrillist, USA Today 10 Best, Las Vegas Weekly and Desert Companion magazine). Within 18 months, he added a second all-day dining concept, Ada’s in Tivoli Village (More praise via Eater Vegas, Thrillist, USA Today 10 Best, Las Vegas Weekly). He has also created BEST Creamery (chef-driven ice cream and treats) and 108 Eats by Chef James Trees, offering hand-crafted pressed panini, sweets and snacks atop the Strat Hotel & Casino. More is on the way.
Chef Trees has received accolades including “Chef of the Moment” (VEGAS magazine), “Executive Chef of the Year” (2019 Silver State Awards) and “Chef of the Year” (2019 Nevada Restaurant Association). Most recently, he was selected as a nominee for the James Beard Award: Best Chef Southwest.