Food University of Caesars Palace Las Vegas
Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 | 8:30 a.m.
Fun-loving foodies across the country are about to be transformed from spectators into competition-ready chefs. Thanks to the new Las Vegas Food University’s inaugural classes, it’s possible that somebody could wind up being a future “Top Chef” star.
The debut Food U courses at Caesars Palace from Dec. 11-13 coincide with the 20th anniversary celebration of chef Wolfgang Puck’s Spago at the Forum Shops and the opening of chef Gordon Ramsay’s gastropub Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill, also at Caesars and his second restaurant to open on the Strip within a year.
Promotional spots were filmed Tuesday at Caesars fountains with President Gary Selesner surrounded by his hotel chefs. Food U is a collaboration among Caesars, philanthropist and hospitality industry leader Larry Ruvo of Southern Wines and Spirits, veteran culinary entertainment producer Richard Gore and, as one of the co-founders of the Food Network, yours truly.
Food U’s culinary “professors” will include James Beard Award-winning chef Alex Stratta; acclaimed cheese expert Laura Werlin, author of the James Beard Award-winning “All-American Cheese and Wine Book”; chef and TV personality Claudine Pepin; and Anne Dolce, cook editor, the Daily Meal. Chef Bradford Thompson, winner of Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef Award and the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest, will serve as Food U’s culinary director.
Student volunteers from UNLV’s School of Hospitality will assist with back-of-house preparations. Proceeds from Food U “admissions” will go to our beloved charity Keep Memory Alive that provides funds to the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health that is dedicated to finding cures for such brain disorders as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and ALS.
Rich, who has a 20-year-plus career staging U.S. chef food events and previously brought the Food Network’s All-Star Chefs Tour here, said: “Unlike any other food festival or culinary event, Food U offers food lovers a chance to rub elbows with top chefs, sommeliers, mixologists, cheese experts, fine food purveyors and farmers who will serve as Food U ‘faculty.’
“The ‘scholars’ will not merely eat, drink and learn in the presence of lauded chefs, they will enthusiastically don their chef whites and dedicate themselves to expanding their knowledge on the finer points of creating exceptional cuisine from celebrity chef professors.”
In addition to the three-day schedule, there will be private, VIP field seminars. These off-site seminars will include the Southern Wine and Spirits Hospitality Mixology program, normally available only to hotel and restaurant executives.
The first Food U session will accommodate as many as 80 culinary scholars. “Our students are true food lovers, the person who has always wanted to be right there learning in the kitchens with the world’s greatest chefs and religiously watches cooking shows. They’re passionate about their food and have always wanted to cook like a top chef at home but didn’t quite have the time to enroll in a class for a semester or two,” Rich continued.
“Food U is revolutionary and an immersive culinary travel experience. We’re committed to delivering a guest experience that is as memorable for participating celebrity chefs as it is for those attending as culinary scholars.”
The inaugural event will culminate in a festive, and well-deserved, ceremony for Food U’s first graduating class; they will receive the Food U “Enlightened Palate” diploma. Additionally, each student enrolled for the first classes will receive a private VIP invitation for a never-before-seen wineries tour in Napa Valley previously off-limits to the public.
“Enlightening, informative, illuminating learning and immeasurable fun cooking with great chefs, enjoying spirits with superb mixologists, wines with excellent sommeliers, all of this in America’s most exciting city -- Las Vegas -- and at the world-renowned Caesars Palace,” said Larry, founder of Keep Memory Alive.
Las Vegas has been recognized as one of the most important food capitals of the world with its cadre of celebrity chefs. Now for the first time, our food stars teach their secrets in an intimate, close-up basis. The most beautiful part about this is that profits don’t walk out of town; they stay here for the incredible work and science breakthroughs of Keep Memory Alive.
“Caesars Palace already offers a stunning array of culinary offerings, but this will be the experience that puts the resort over the top for foodies around the world. The Food Un experience is practically priceless,” concluded Gary. “This is the event food enthusiasts have been waiting for.”
Sponsors for the inaugural Food U are Fagor America and the Daily Meal, which is the digital media sponsor of the event. The Daily Meal provides its community with everything they need to know about Food U by integrating editorial and video coverage throughout the site and across social media platforms.
Tuition is $1,995 per person for the three-day sessions and includes food, beverage and course instruction. Caesars Palace is offering a special rate for guests, and gift certificates also are available. For more information, visit FoodUniversityLasVegas.com; also Twitter.com/FoodUVegas.
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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Transport yourself to the opulent and excessive Roman Empire at Caesars Palace. But the ever-changing Caesars Palace is far from ancient. The hotel and casino is constantly raising the bar for what visitors can expect in a Vegas resort experience.
Caesars Palace features 3,348 rooms and suites in five towers, including the new luxury boutique Nobu Hotel and Restaurant, which opened Feb. 4, 2013, in the totally remodeled Centurian Tower. Caesars features 129,000 square feet of gaming space, including the Strip’s largest poker room and a 250-seat sports book. Other amenities include about two dozen restaurants, a four-level shopping mall, four pools, a spa, Pure and Poetry nightclubs and Pussycat Dolls.
Dining options include restaurants from world-renown chefs Guy Savoy, Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay and, on Feb. 4, 2013, Nobu Matsuhisa.
You never know what characters you’ll run into at Caesars with regular performers like Jerry Seinfeld, Bette Midler, Elton John and maybe even the emperor himself.