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July 26, 2014

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Right-Hand Man

Q-Juan Taylor a key player in rock ’n’ roll chef’s empire

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Beverly Poppe

Q-Juan Taylor, general manager at Simon

Quality control is part of Taylor's job, whether it's in the official description or not, and selecting a cocktail for our shoot was no exception. The Blackberry Crush takes an oft-neglected fruit and brings it daringly to the fore, blending it with Jewel of Russia Berry Infusion vodka, sour mix, simple syrup and lime juice. It's a sweet one, but Simon is known for his sweet tooth. Not convinced? His dessert menu includes the Junk Food Platter, with everything from cotton candy to chocolate caramel popcorn.

Quality control is part of Taylor's job, whether it's in the official description or not, and selecting a cocktail for our shoot was no exception. The Blackberry Crush takes an oft-neglected fruit and brings it daringly to the fore, blending it with Jewel of Russia Berry Infusion vodka, sour mix, simple syrup and lime juice. It's a sweet one, but Simon is known for his sweet tooth. Not convinced? His dessert menu includes the Junk Food Platter, with everything from cotton candy to chocolate caramel popcorn.

It's no accident that Sunday brunch at Simon has become the place to see and be seen in Las Vegas.

Chef Kerry Simon's menu paired with the posh digs — a sixth-floor perch overlooking a secluded pool deck at Palms Place — would be enough to draw most people, but there's a secret weapon, too: general manager Q-Juan Taylor.

"I'm basically making sure every guest is having fun," said Taylor, known as simply Q. "That's my role. I'm here to make the experience perfect."

Named after a friend of his mother's, Taylor moved from his native Memphis to Los Angeles in 2002, a story all too familiar to fledgling actors. Taylor, however, flipped the script, turning his food-and-beverage background into a career after interviewing with Simon for a position at his L.A. restaurant.

"I'm like an extension of him because I know exactly what he's looking for, and we have so many things in common as far as setting the mood in the restaurant," he said.

The connection was immediate ("We speak the same language," Taylor said), and when Simon made the move to Las Vegas, he knew who he wanted as the face of his new venture. Since then, Taylor has kept the values of the renowned rock 'n' roll chef close at hand.

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