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September 1, 2014

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Counter Intelligence: Bobby Flay’s Throwdown comes to Rao’s

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Scott Harrison/Retna/www.harrisonphotos.com

Superstar chefs Bobby Flay and Cat Cora on day one of Vegas Uncork’d 2009 on Pure’s open-air patio in Caesars Palace.

Hot off the grill! Celebrity chef Bobby Flay, whose Mesa Grill is in Caesars Palace, added some star power to two days of shooting his Food Network series Throwdown when he took on colleague restaurant Rao’s in Caesars Palace.

Iron Chef Bobby signed on Rio headliner magician Penn Jillette, the Australian quartet Human Nature from Imperial Palace and the showgirls of Jubilee! at Bally’s to add excitement and sizzle to the battle. We’ll be sure to let you know the airdate once it’s been scheduled.

Top Chef: Las Vegas

Top Chef: Las Vegas did indeed return Wednesday night with a new episode on Bravo (last week was a repeat). In keeping with the Sin City theme, cheftestants had to pull a slot machine to determine the guidelines for the Quickfire Challenge. In the elimination round, they prepared a dinner for Macy’s Culinary Council members Tom Douglas, Nancy Silverton, Govind Armstrong and Takashi Yagihashi and TV chef Tyler Florence, who served as chief judge. Ashley Merriman wound up packing her knives. Shortly after, Bravo posted a Q&A with contestant Ash Fulk, who was in the bottom two with Ashley -- click HERE to read it.

Johnny Avello at the Wynn Sports Book has once again determined the new odds for next week’s elimination episode. As usual, we must point out that these are for entertainment purposes only and not in any way for gaming.

Here are the odds, with opening and current numbers: Kevin Gillespie, 8/1, 2/1; Jennifer Carroll, 20/1, 5/2; Michael Voltaggio, 11/1, 3/1; Bryan Voltaggio, 15/1, 5/1; Michael Isabella, 25/1, 12/1; Laurine Wickett, 14/1, 20/1; Eli Kirshtein, 22/1, 25/1; Ash Fulk, 35/1, 30/1; and Robin Leventhal, 28/1, 50/1.

Taste of Wynn

Hotel tycoon Steve Wynn has opened a new culinary boutique starring the restaurants of his Wynn and Encore casino resorts. It’s filled with gourmet ingredients, cooking tools, gifts and tabletop accessories selected by his star chefs. Located on the Encore Esplanade, the retail store allows guests to experience the award-winning restaurants in a new way -- by taking the tastiest parts home with them. At SW Steakhouse, diners cut their decadent beef dishes with specially made Shun steak knives. Chef David Walzog says, “They are without question the sharpest, sexiest-designed steak knives I’ve seen.” Visitors of Taste of Wynn also can purchase the gnocchi paddle favored by two-star Michelin Award-winning Chef Alessandro Stratta of Alex and Stratta.

James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Paul Bartolotta introduces the Botegga Del Vino glassware he uses at home and for reserve wine pours at his Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare. “For some reason, everything in this glassware tastes just a little bit better,” Paul says. Switch is home to Chef Rene Lenger’s one-of-a-kind seafood tower, served on an ornate art deco piece. The custom-designed seafood tower can be used as a striking culinary centerpiece at any dinner or cocktail reception. Switch also boasts a large bourbon selection that includes Switch Private Label Bourbon, which can now be purchased at Taste of Wynn.

At Sinatra, chef Theo Schoenegger uses the Lario slicer, “the Rolls Royce of prosciutto slicers,” to obtain perfect, hand-cranked slices of prosciutto, salami and other charcuterie. Ted says, “It’s the only way to slice prosciutto.” Diners at Botero rave about chef Mark LoRusso’s signature ketchup. The ketchup’s complex flavors are crafted from a secret recipe, and Mark promises: “After one taste, you will never buy another bottle of ketchup from the grocery store again.”

Prix-fixe menu at Alize

Mark Purdy, chef de cuisine at Alize at the top of the Palms, has been using locally grown products from farmers market to create a lower-priced menu for his diners. He’ll even let you combine it with half-price bottled wines, cognac and armagnac by the glass on Sundays. His prix-fixe menu is available seven days a week, although the menu items can change daily depending on what Mark has fresh on hand. Provided you are seated at 5:30 to 7 p.m. or 9 to 10 p.m., it’s $59 per person in one of our city’s best restaurants -- and the one with the incredible full-length view of the Strip!

John Curtas and Max Jacobson

My friends in food, longtime Nevada Public Radio food critic John Curtas and seasoned food writer Max Jacobson, are now dishing out monthly criticisms together on KNPR’s State of Nevada, the award-winning public affairs program on News 88.9 KNPR. Once a month, John and Max, who have butted heads over the years about the burgeoning Las Vegas food business, will explore the emergence of our culinary scene. In an “Eat It or Beat It” segment, the two face off by comparing notes from two restaurants they have visited. Listeners have the opportunity to weigh in via phone or email on the criticisms. “John and Max have been agreeing and disagreeing about restaurants in Las Vegas for decades, but one thing’s for sure: Few people can claim to eat out as much as these two,” said Flo Rogers, the station’s general manager.

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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