Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 | 11:34 p.m.
Hot off the grill! Ten years ago, top Las Vegas chef Andre Rochat started a dinner salute to the late Jean-Louis Palladin, the master kitchen king who put fine dining on the map. Jean-Louis, who moved from the Watergate Hotel restaurant in Washington, D.C., to open Napa at the Rio, inspired chefs the world over to leave their kitchens and go to farms in search of the finest products.
It was a culinary movement that changed the way chefs treated food. Now for the 11th consecutive year, our top chefs will serve an extraordinary dinner tribute honoring Jean-Louis, as one of the 20th century’s culinary geniuses, at Alize atop the Palms.
It’s a staggering who’s who lineup of chefs presenting an eight-course meal with wine pairings. Guests who contribute the $325 ticket price know proceeds benefit the Jean-Louis food scholarship program at the James Beard Foundation. Only 110 guests will taste the items created by 20 chefs. A few tickets remain; call 702-951-7000 so you don’t miss out.
“I wanted to ensure that the memory of one of my closest friends and his extraordinary talents would never be forgotten,” said Andre. “It will be an incredible experience with the finest menu in the country for just one night. It’s important that we maintain his spirit here.”
Participating chefs include Megan Romano (Chocolate & Spice); Rick Moonen (RM Seafood); Vincent Pouessel (Aureole); Laurent Pillard (Fleur); Todd Harrington (Central by Michel Richard); Gregory Pugin (Le Cirque); Ryuki Kawasaki (Twist); Luciano Pellegrini (Valentino); Royden Ellamar (Sensi), Stephane Chevet (Shibuya); Barry Dakake (N9NE Steakhouse); Geno Bernardo (Nove Italiano); Joung Sohn (Eiffel Tower) and Andre, Mark Purdy and Tammy Alana from Alize.
Said Rick: “Jean-Louis really raised the level of American cuisine; when it came to quality, he wrote the book on it. Every chef taking part owes him a debt because he shared everything he knew with all of us.”
I attended the first benefit dinner where Jean-Louis had his restaurant four nights before 9/11. Jean-Louis, just 55 and battling lung cancer, was too weak to attend and sadly died that November. I have attended every one since and assisted with the auction that raises funds to send future chefs to study Palladin’s philosophy with farmers. I’ll be there again Sunday.
Napa opened in 1997 but closed when Jean-Louis took ill and in that short four-year time was regarded as one of our city’s best. I knew him well; he was a remarkable man, uncompromising, diligent, obsessive, yet as kind as they come. He was all about great ingredients and inspired every chef. His memory will live on, and thanks to Andre, funding for culinary education ensures great chefs honoring Jean-Louis for years to come.
WORLD FOOD CHAMPIONSHIPS: TV host Adam Richman met the media today to discuss his World Food Championships debuting here Nov. 1-4. Culinary experts Colman Andrews and Barbara Fairchild will be among the judges. There will be 450 competitors -- chefs and homemakers -- competing for $300,000 in seven categories featuring barbecue, chili, burgers, sandwiches and more. It all winds up with a world chef challenge played like the World Series of Poker Final Nine.
The events take place at Bally’s, Paris and Caesars Palace. I’ll be talking with Adam on Thursday, and we’ll have that interview next week. Check out Las Vegas Sun colleague Ron Sylvester’s report from today’s event. For more on what Adam describes as the “highest stakes food competition in the world,” go to WorldFoodChampionships.com.
GORDON & WOLF DINNER: Earlier today, we posted exclusive details of the first Las Vegas Food University starting Dec. 11 at Caesars. Now I can advise that one of the first graduating students will win two tickets for the Gordon Ramsay and Wolfgang Puck dinner honoring the 80th birthdays of music mogul Quincy Jones and actor Sir Michael Caine on April 13.
That’s the annual benefit Keep Memory Alive for our Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Each graduate also receives a VIP tour of a Napa and Sonoma in California previously never open to the public.
NEW JAVIER CONCEPT: Javier’s, just opened in Aria, is a design masterpiece. Each culturally inspired decoration and furniture piece was custom made, including handcrafted pottery from Guadalajara. Some 4,000 metal decorative nail heads are in the lounge, and hundreds of rope strands form a canopy.
The hotspot from Laguna Beach, Calif., and Los Cabos features the world’s largest piece of chainsaw art weighing 3,000 pounds. Its artwork on five large panels illustrates the Mayan Creation myth and hundreds of Day of the Dead-inspired skeletons. Look for the hundreds of hidden elements on a five-part journey from the Tree of Death to redemption in the Tree of Life.
The 9,000-square-foot restaurant seats 280 guests in its two dining rooms and a 20-seat private dining room. Don’t miss the metal bar because embedded inside it are four cell phone-charging hubs.
Chi Mangia Bene, Vive Bene -- he who eats well lives well!
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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Palms Casino Resort has come a long way since its "Real World" debut in 2002. The boutique property features three distinct towers and a diverse mix of bars and restaurants across a 95,000-square-foot casino.
Palms, which features more than 1,200 rooms and fantasy suites, is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar transformation that will encompass an Ivory Tower room and suite redesign, new culinary additions, re-imagined gaming spaces and new, distinctive nightlife experiences.
In addition to newly designed rooms, during the first phase of the renovation, Palms will welcome Heraea, a high-energy American restaurant and lounge, and XISHI, a pan-Asian restaurant and lounge.
Fantasy Suites include the Hardwood Suite, the only hotel room in the world with its own basketball court.
Other amenities include the all-new Cantor Gaming® race and sports book, one of the few sports books in Las Vegas to include a poker room; SOCIAL; Scarlet; Chocolat Bistro; tonic bar; ghostbar; Pearl Concert Theater; Moon Nightclub; N9NE Steakhouse; Nove Italiano; Simon Restaurant & Lounge; Palms Pool & Bungalows; Kim Vō Salon; Drift Spa & Hammam; Brenden Theatres, a 14-theatre cineplex and more than 60,000 square-feet of meeting space.