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October 21, 2014

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Tina, where’s my martini?

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The M Resort

Chef Tina Martini.

When you name an event in Las Vegas Martini Time, you'd better serve a drink. But when chef and nutritional guru Tina Martini bounded into the Studio B Buffet show kitchen at M Resort for her live cooking demo called Martini Time with Chef Tina Martini, she didn't bring even a drop of dry vermouth.

Instead, Martini (yes, that's her real name) brought the ingredients to make a Portobello Napoleon, a tricky stacked appetizer whose recipe took up an entire sheet of paper in fairly small font. Don't be intimidated, Martini advised. Yea, I could use a cocktail about now.

Housed in a shiny studio kitchen equipped with a small cooking space and cameras trained on Martini's every move, M Resort's new endeavor is a bit like attending a live broadcast of a cooking show. Guests get recipes for the dishes being prepared and samples to try, and Martini — spitting out nutritional info and prostate jokes with equally scripted ease — is part Rachel Ray, part biology professor.

"I feel like I'm in school," a friend whispered as the chef explained grape seed oil's similarity to Roto-Rooter Plumbers.

Around half an hour into the show — after teaching us to make faux eggs with cheese and yellow tomatoes and passing around a Silpat silicone baking mat — Martini finally asked if we wanted a drink. A server filled our martini glasses with a vibrantly colored blend of blood orange soda and fruit juice dubbed Pom's Blood Juice.

"Did anyone bring a flask?" the chef asked. "It would be nice with a little Bombay Sapphire Gin, wouldn't it?" My spirits sank. Looks like it wasn't martini time after all.

Not all guests to the show kitchen will be getting the virgin treatment, however. A representative from M Resort said Martini's menu will change with the beverages ranging from smoothies to alcoholic cocktails depending on the day. For those who do miss out on the booze, each ticket ($40-60) comes with a free pass to the buffet at M Resort where all-you-can-drink beer and wine is on offer.

Hopefully, the script will change, too. Martini clearly is knowledgeable about the health benefits of the food we eat, but right now her show plays it a little safe, the jokes coming off more recycled than spontaneous. After all, this show isn't being broadcast live on television. With a little more off-the-cuff cookery and a recipe that doesn't seem so daunting, Martini Time would go down easy, even without a drink.

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