Monday, Nov. 16, 2009 | 8:06 a.m.
There’s no better place than Las Vegas to dance off to for a mini-vacation of some R&R down time, and ousted Dancing With the Stars beauty Karina Smirnoff did just that. By the looks of her male companion here, she also found herself a new beau, although I have been unable so far to get his name!
Last Tuesday, Karina and her heartthrob partner Aaron Carter were eliminated from the hit ABC show, so Karina decided on the last-minute trip here. When she checked into the Palazzo and discovered that star chef Emeril Lagasse had recruited a crew of celebrity chefs for a dine-around charity fundraiser, she decided to surprise them.
Karina, looking stunning in a white cocktail dress, even walked the red carpet, and then it was off to sample all the taste treats at the kitchen stations the chefs had set up for Emeril’s Carnival du Vin. He certainly kicked it up a notch -- and bam! -- thanks to the generosity of the 900 guests, Emeril roared past his $1 million fundraising goal.
Emeril also donated $50,000 from the proceeds of the night to start a “kids kitchen” program here in Las Vegas with our food bank Three Square. The project will teach culinary skills and knowledge to needy youths, and hometown hero Andre Agassi has agreed that the first one will be set up at his College Preparatory Academy.
We’ll have the full photo report here at Vegas DeLuxe tomorrow with Emeril, Wolfgang Puck, Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud, Charlie Trotter, Charlie Palmer, Luciano Pellegrini, Michael Mina, Joaquim Splichal and a host of other kitchen kings and queens. Meantime, we wanted to share Karina’s photo gallery with you today.
Karina gave full approval to Diablo Tea prepared as a specialty cocktail of the night: Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Reposado Tequila infused with tea, prickly pear and lemonade. She sampled the tequila-marinated grilled mahi mahi fish tacos with homemade tortillas. Honoree Mario Batali had the thrill of a lifetime when Karina asked him to personally feed her his culinary offerings. She also spent time with Venetian seafood chef Tom Moloney at his Aquanox station.
After the event, Karina decided it was time to sit and finish dinner at Tao in The Venetian, where the samples hadn’t put a dent in her appetite. She still had room for sea bass, grilled rare tuna and sashimi, along with a bottle of premium sake and martinis. Karina was “very cozy” with her companion, according to my spywitness.
Karina said she would be back on the DWTS finals next Monday and Tuesday with Aaron and kept mum about who might get kicked off tonight and who will be the final three.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground. Read more of Robin's stories at VegasDeLuxe.com.
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