MGM Resorts International
Monday, Oct. 8, 2012 | 5:33 p.m.
It was a multimillion-dollar lineup of superstar chef talent for the luncheon of a lifetime. Talk about a platinum powerhouse of culinary kings to create the meal to always remember. It was the unashamed, unabashed and exquisite highlight of the Third Annual Food & Wine All-Star Weekend festival.
Foie gras is banned in California, but here it’s the absolute gourmet treat -- and de rigeur. Chef Michael Mina excelled with his “brilliant brick” presentation of the delicacy and won raves from diners and Food & Wine’s Gail Simmons, who hosted at chef Shawn McClain’s Sage in Aria. (Our Shawn is the newly crowned “Iron Chef” winner!)
“Top Chef” judge Gail was center stage with chefs Michael, Shawn, Masa Takayama, Julian Serrano, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Jean-Philippe Maury. The sensational six-some dazzled with their amazing culinary creations.
Masa kicked off with hors d’oeuvres consisting of chutoro zuke, karei with green grapes and Santa Barbara shrimp with uni; Michael presented foie gras terrine alongside roasted ciogga beets and candied Marcona almonds; Julian created a thyme-infused scallop with citrus Valencia orange marmalade and poached sweet cherry tomato; Shawn made a caramelized salsify and fennel ravioli with glazed pork belly, mustard green and preserved lemon; Jean-Georges wowed with a roasted Wagyu filet mignon with foie gras dumplings and miso butter; and the crowning glory was Jean-Philippe’s “Holy Peach” of orange blossom, caramelized peach and yogurt sorbet.
Just as it couldn’t get any better, Michelin-starred Masa invited everybody next door to his Bar Masa for the Ultimate Champagne and Sashimi tasting. Gail and Robb Fulmer of Moet Hennessey USA said: “This is the world’s freshest sashimi paired with the world’s best champagnes.” Aria’s beverage director Robert Bigelow used a saber to pop the corks.
We had just eaten an unforgettable meal, and yet minutes later Masa is serving an all-new menu that included lobster ceviche with Veuve Clicquot Rose; hairy crab with chrysanthemum with Krug Grand Cuvee; his extraordinary signature Toro caviar with Angel Black, a bubbly I’d never heard of; “Kawahagi” trigger fish with white truffle julienne with 2002 Dom Perignon; Toro, Shimaaji and Ika served with 1999 Charles Heidsieck Brut Rose; and for dessert, yuzu sorbet served with Angel Platinum.
The day had started at Joel Robuchon’s two MGM Grand restaurants where executive chefs Claude Le-Tohic and Steve Benjamin guided guests through the preparation of two courses shown on large flat-screen televisions. Nearby at Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, patrons were treated to a Wine Tasting and Food Pairing with winemaker Todd Anderson’s crown jewel -- Ghost Horse Wine. This is $5,000 a bottle and only available from the vineyard; Craftsteak is the only U.S. restaurant serving Ghost Horse Wine. The glasses accompanied four courses of Craftsteak’s meats.
Over at Mandalay Bay, Aureole’s executive chef Vincent Pouessel entertained guests in his kitchen for a Seasonal Pasta Demonstration learning secrets behind hand-rolled pastas, while wine director Christophe Tassan poured pairings that complemented a four-course meal in the restaurant’s Swan Court.
Difficult to believe, but there’s more: Gail hosted a Surfside Soiree at Mandalay Bay Beach with Michael Mina of Stripsteak; Rick Moonen of RM Seafood; Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken and Mike Minor of Border Grill; Hubert Keller of Fleur and Burger Bar; and Vincent of Aureole.
By coincidence and without talking to one another, each chef had prepared whole animals to roast on spits or atop barbecue coals. The Border Grill pig weighed 80 pounds, and Hubert’s whole lamb topped 50 pounds. It was a gorgeous Las Vegas night under the stars set against a backdrop of light waves for Michael’s cured steaks and Rick’s create-your-own bouillabaisse with whole fish and scored scallops.
Somehow we’ll tuck in our tummies, sweat in the sauna to work it off and on Tuesday post the Day 3 final wrap with a spectacular brunch at Jasmine in the Bellagio and the nearby amazing farmhouse meal that proves fresh farm ingredients can grow in the desert. Gail told me that she’s eaten some spectacular meals around the world, but this weekend in Las Vegas topped the lot!
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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