1 a.m.: Chef Kerry Simon, left, enjoys a glass of champagne and shares some chocolate-peppermint mousse cake with the director of public relations for Palms Hotel and Casino, Larry Fink, after a hectic New Year's Eve at his namesake restaurant at Palms Place, Simon.
"New Year's Eve is a nutty night," Simon said. "It's pretty crazy."
A slough of stars were spotted wining and dining at the restaurant. Eight-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, Good Charlotte guitarist Benji Madden, Indy racer Marco Andretti, Brody Jenner of "The Hills," and his girlfriend, 2008 Playmate of the Year, Jayde Nicole, were all on site for the big night.
They enjoyed a range of Simon's signature contemporary American food, including citrus braised
short ribs and charred edamame, and snacked on the chef's signature "junkfood platter" as well.
"We had a very great night; it actually feels like a great night for Las Vegas," Simon said as his night finally came to a close. "People were out and you haven't seen that since before the election."
Though he has another restaurant on the Strip, Simon said the Palms is the place to be on New Year's Eve.
"It was just a great vibe, you've got Michael Phelps running around, you've got Kid Rock playing (at the Pearl)."
He said this year was quite different from last year.
As 2007 came to a close, he was busy with the grand opening of his other restaurant, Cathouse, across town at the Luxor.
Simon said New Year's Eve '08 was quite different compared to last year. He said it lacked the scandal of NYE '07 -- not that that's a bad thing.
He lamented about how a year ago he was caught battling silly rumors that certain celebrities, including a one that Paris Hilton had been banned from his restaurant (not true), and amidst a scandal and resulting fallout from Mischa Barton's DWI (she had agreed to host at Cathouse prior to receiving her DWI but after charges were laid it became somewhat of a PR nightmare.)
He seemed to enjoy welcoming 2009 with a glass of champagne instead of a headache.
The year seemed to be off to a very different start.
"It's just a different vibe," he said as his gaze swept across the sleek and modern surrounds of the restaurant and out through the floor-to-ceiling windows to the turquoise pool outside.
In effort to start the New Year off right, Simon will begin offering a special pajamas party brunch on Sundays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
The chef, meanwhile, also hopes to make a few changes in the new year. His resolution, he said, will be "to be as healthy as possible and get some free time ... because I really haven't for a long time."