Who Is Esther?
Great-aunt Esther was a tough, smart, no-nonsense type who cared about people and gave good advice. “She was a big support to my mom when I was growing up, and that was huge,” says Trees. “She was always there for us.” Esther wrote the check that sent Chef Trees off to the CIA (after all, someone had to get him out of Alfio’s kitchen). And when she passed in 2016 she left James a nest egg – the money he needed to finally open his own restaurant.
The restaurant is named in her honor for all of this, and because everyone hopefully has someone like Aunt Esther. Whoever that person was for you, when you walk in the door we want you to feel like you’re at their house. We want you to feel cared for.
James Trees is a chef in the old school meaning of the word. He believes that the craft of cooking has to come before the art: “Knowledge is power in the kitchen.” This has been the foundation in the development of his cooking and his work since he was fourteen. James was born and raised in Las Vegas, where he began his culinary career at Las Vegas High School, earning an internship at the Mirage after his first two years of Basic Training. With a combination of humility and hard work, he earned the respect of chefs that took him in and invested their time to teach him proper technique.