In Business, Dining, News

By Bob Barnes

With a 20+ year culinary career in Las Vegas, Chef Brian Howard earned his stripes working at celebrated Michelin-starred restaurants alongside notable chefs including Thomas Keller, Kerry Simon, Andre Rochat and David Myers before opening his own restaurants Sparrow + Wolf and Half Bird Chicken & Beer.

Howard has been featured on Food Network’s “Chopped” and appeared as a judge with Gordon Ramsay on “Master Chef Jr.” and as the winning contender on FYI’s “Late Night Chef Fight.” Howard’s most recent accolade is being nominated as a 2024 James Beard Foundation Best Chef: Southwest Award semifinalist.

We sat down with the acclaimed chef to talk about the nomination, Sparrow + Wolf in Chinatown (4480 Spring Mountain Road; (702) 790-2147, and Half Bird in Henderson (725 S. Green Valley Parkway; (702) 202-2250, and his future plans.

You have been named a semifinalist in the Best Chef: Southwest category in the 2024 James Beard Foundation Awards. What would winning this award mean to you?

We are very excited about the recent recognition. There are a lot of talented chefs in this country, so getting a nod for my life’s work feels extremely rewarding. Receiving a James Beard Foundation Award nomination has always been a bucket list item for me, so it’s another big notch on the belt.

Can you describe the focus and concept of your restaurants Sparrow + Wolf and Half Bird Chicken & Beer and some of your favorite menu items?

Sparrow + Wolf is like going to your favorite dinner party where the food is familiar, yet new, and our focus has always been hospitality-driven and “people-first” while creating a room where the guest feels like they’re the most important person in it. We combine bold flavors from around the globe in a delicious hybrid seasonal manner using the best ingredients we can find.

My favorites right now are the grilled oysters bathed in a Thai chili jam butter and the grouper cooked in banana leaf with a Ma Po tofu sauce. We’re also dry-aging steaks in-house that are being cooked over live fire.

Half Bird Chicken & Beer is our best-in-class chicken shop. We have something for the whole family: simple rotisserie chicken, a salad, a Signature Sichuan Hot Chicken Sandwich, the “best nuggs on the planet” (I’m sure of it), rotisserie ramen and a giant chicken parm.

We wanted to create a place for friends to congregate and watch our local sports teams play but not have to worry about leaving the kiddos behind. There are arcade games, an outdoor lawn with corn hole, TVs and our self-tapping draft beer system (pouring local beers) guests are free to pour by the ounce to try the different selections. Some of my personal favorite sides are the rotisserie smashed potatoes with cheese sauce and chili garlic crunch and the rotisserie corn with togarashi butter.

How do you like working and living in Las Vegas?

I’ve been here for 23 years now, and Las Vegas is home for me. I’m so grateful for this city and all the support I’ve received and have had the pleasure of working with so many incredible people, raising a family and creating some of the most epic memories.

Are any plans for a new restaurant concept in the works?

I’m a creative type, so I am always writing and developing new concepts. We’re currently raising extra capital and hope to announce a new seafood-driven concept in the southwest valley within the next few months. Stay tuned!

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