Wednesday, May 9, 2012 | 5:20 p.m.
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Food! Glorious food! What a week for our culinary kings and queens as more than 50 of the nation’s top celebrated chefs pick up pots and pans together to sizzle, slice and sear for the Sixth Annual Vegas Uncork’d festival of fabulous food and wondrous wines. It’s an Amuse Bouche to Zabaglione (A-Z) menu of Mis En Place master chefs:
*Grandmaster chef Wolfgang Puck celebrates the milestone 20th anniversary of his Spago at Caesars Palace -- the first celebrity chef restaurant on the Strip. He is credited with starting the fine-dining revolution on the Strip in 1992 just as the rodeo arrived in town. Before then, it was oversized buffets and red-wall, red-booth, old-fashioned casino dining rooms. The James Beard Foundation in New York will honor Wolf with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
*Gordon Ramsay, making his first-ever appearance at the four-day feast, opens his first of two Las Vegas restaurants with his Anglo-French steakhouse at the Paris. “It’s an eclectic, modern European-styled restaurant with the London experience mixed with Parisian chic. Very innovative, sumptuous, beautiful, and my customers will feel like a king with food second to none,” he said.
*Nobu Matsuhisa provides a sneak preview of his new Nobu boutique hotel and restaurant coming to Caesars Palace this fall. We’ll have that report and the renderings next week.
As if that trio of tartare toppers wasn’t enough to dazzle, dice and deglaze, the Bon Appetit Grand Tasting on Friday at Garden of the Gods pool at Caesars Palace highlights a staggering variety of signature dishes from such saute and souffle stars as Bobby Flay, Guy Savoy, Jose Andres, Hubert Keller, David Myers, Scott Conant, Michel Richard, Costas Spiliadis, Todd English, Rick Moonen, Charlie Palmer, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger.
“This year’s Grand Tasting has more restaurants and their well-loved chefs participating than ever before,” said Adam Rapoport, Bon Appetit’s editor in chief. “Adding to the extraordinary lineup are two new wine and spirits elements, a Bombay Bar and a Mionetto lounge, as well as a Taste of the Forum, where restaurants from the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, including Spago and Sushi Roku, showcase their specialties. The Grand Tasting also features delectable bites from Laurent Tourondel, Andre Rochat, Kerry Simon, Max Brenner, Emeril Lagasse and others.
It all kicks off Thursday with Wolf’s 20th anniversary celebration lunch at Spago, followed by all the crowned chefs going to the front fountains of Caesars Palace for the sabering of a giant bottle of the best bubbly for the welcome toast. Another highlight is the chefs’ celebrity poker tournament poolside at the Cosmopolitan, and fans get the opportunity to watch them sharpen their card skills or play alongside.
Here’s the Royal Robin Rundown of the 96 hours of nonstop feasts, including no less than five first-night Master Chefs Dinners at Caesars Palace:
THURSDAY, MAY 10
VIP Saber-Off with the staggering lineup of this year’s chefs at the Winged Victory fountain at the Strip front of Caesars Palace.
Spago celebrates its 20th anniversary with a four-course lunch starring the original celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck and his super-sidekicks David Robins and Eric Klein at Caesars Palace.
Michel Richard debuts at Vegas Uncork’d with a five-course Master Series Dinner titled “Then There Were Two” at his Central Parisian bistro in Caesars Palace. New.
Dinnertime Decadence with five-star French chef Guy Savoy’s Master Series Dinner at Caesars Palace.
Food Network superstar Bobby Flay serves wake-up-your-taste-buds Southwest cooking in his Spices of Life Master Series Dinner at Mesa Grill in Caesars Palace.
Pellegrino Family: Rao’s Italian Feast Master Series Dinner at Caesars Palace.
French Elegance with Francois Payard Master Series Dinner at Payard Patisserie & Bistro in Caesars Palace.
Follow That Food Truck with Julian Serrano, Todd English, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Michael Mina on Bellagio’s rooftop. Trucks confirmed include Fukuburger, Redneck Kitchen and Rusty Pickle. New.
FRIDAY, MAY 11
Paella Lunch demo with Jose Andres using a wood-fired grill -- the only one of its kind in America -- at Jaleo in the Cosmopolitan. New.
Grand Tasting at Caesars Palace’s Garden of the Gods with 60 restaurants taking part, including Old Homestead’s Greg and Marc Sherry for the first time. More than 100 wines and spirits from around the world will be served. For the first time, restaurants representing the Forum Shops will showcase specialties.
Gordon Ramsay officially opens his much-anticipated, high-energy, 7,500-square-foot, 200-seat Gordon Ramsay Steak at the Paris pairing a contemporary fresh menu with English favorites and French highlights.
Chef Nobu Matsuhisa gives a private sneak peak of Nobu Restaurant and Lounge at Empress Court due to open this year.
Too Hot Tamales Live Demonstration hosted by Adam Rapoport, with chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger preparing a four-course menu with tequila pairings at Mandalay Bay’s Border Grill. New.
Mix-Off, a cocktail competition featuring Master Mixologist Matt Myers, Hyde Bellagio Mixologist Jose Zepeda, Akira Back and other talent, plus small bites from executive chef Roy Ellamar of Sensi, overlooking the Bellagio Fountains.
Sip, Swirl and Select like a Sommelier, a blind tasting led by Jason Smith, David Lynch and Raj Parr, hosted at Tuscany Kitchen.
Unusual Pairings, where guests can learn to pair accessibly priced wines with an elevated food menu, featuring David Lynch and Raj Parr, with small bites prepared by Michael Mina, at Stripsteak.
My Favorite Things with chef Michael Mina and sommeliers Raj Parr and Jason Smith discuss and host their “favorites,” with wine, cocktails and memorable fare at Bellagio.
Celebrity Chef Poker Tournament poolside at the Cosmopolitan with servings from STK and Blue Ribbon Sushi and David Myers’ 18A cocktail program against a live-music performance backdrop. The players include chefs Scott Conant, Jose Andres, Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, David Myers, Anthony Meidenbauer, Jason Smith and Bruce Bromberg.
SATURDAY, MAY 12
Go fishing with Costas Spiliadis of Milos as he reveals secrets of the fish market at the Cosmopolitan. New.
Surfside Beach Clambake with chefs Charlie Palmer, Rick Moonen, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger on long communal tables at Mandalay Bay Beach complete with the waves.
The Kimchi Chronicles, a Q&A lunch hosted by Adam Rapoport with PBS star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and his wife Marja at his restaurant Prime in the Bellagio. New.
Uptown Downtown, with Adam Rapoport, Scott Conant, and Cosmopolitan mixologist Mariena Mercer, an afternoon of cocktails and cuisine from Chandelier Bar, Vesper Bar and other hotspots at the Cosmopolitan.
Kings of Cabernet: Bellagio wine director Jason Smith and Bon Appetit’s Wine Insider David Lynch talk favorite cabernets, including rare and hard-to-find bottles from the collection at the Bellagio. New.
Master Pastry chef Francois Payard invites you into his kitchen at Payard Patisserie & Bistro in Caesars.
The Nature of a Good Party with chef Alain Ducasse, including champagne with the chef, a five-course menu paired with wines at Mandalay Bay, plus a signed copy of his latest cookbook
After Hours, the Remix, with chefs Alain Ducasse, Hubert Keller and Mandalay Bay master chocolatier Vincent Pilon for a late night party at Mix.
SUNDAY, MAY 13
Rao’s Family Affair: An Italian Brunch with the Pellegrinos. It’s backyard BBQ time on the patio of Rao’s in Caesars Palace with an exclusive preview of Frank Pellegrino’s new cookbook “On the Grill’ to be published May 25. New.
A Sparkling Brunch with a special menu to honor Mother’s Day with Guy Savoy at Restaurant Guy Savoy.
Steak & Eggs the extravagant way with Charlie Palmer at Aureole in Mandalay Bay featuring chef Charlie Palmer, Aureole executive chef Vincent Pouessel and Mandalay Bay executive pastry chef Vincent Pilon.
In all, 60 restaurants, 50 chefs, 30 sommeliers and 30 events at four Strip resort hotels. It simply couldn’t get any better, and it proves without a doubt that Las Vegas has a top-tier epicurean experience of world-class chefs and restaurants.
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.
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