Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 | 2:35 p.m.
It’s time to “kick it up a notch” when chef Emeril Lagasse presents his Culinary Clash Master Chef Competition at the Venetian this Friday and Saturday.
It’s part of the Winter in Venice holiday celebration for the second year in a row. Emeril, a James Beard Award-winning chef, returns as a celebrity judge as 16 chefs from Venetian and Palazzo restaurants are pitted against one another inside mobile food truck kitchens.
I’ll MC in the outdoor Doges Palace plaza for the revised, all-in-one-weekend format and try to keep order among the rival chefs and their good-natured trash talking in this culinary smackdown. The chefs will be challenged to create recipes under in 30 minutes using ingredients provided in a mystery basket.
Last year, chef Herb Wilson of Sushi Samba won the title of Culinary Master, and Mario Batali’s chef Nicole Brisson of Carnevino was runner-up. This year’s final is set for 10 p.m. Saturday.
Additionally, a new element will be added this year, Masters of Mixology, a spirited competition among resort bartenders hosted by master mixologist Dale DeGroff. During the competition, celebrity mixologists Tony Abou-Ganim and Francesco Lafranconi will each lead a team of four bartenders.
All chefs and mixologists from the nearly 40 restaurants, food outlets and lounges inside the Venetian and Palazzo have been invited to compete. The winning chef and mixology team receive a trip to Italy.
The culinary wars will be projected on giant screens visible along the Strip, and admission is free. There will be VIPs and celebrities attending and on the prestigious judging panel, but we’re keeping the names confidential to avoid any underhanded ploys by the competing chefs.
Ahead of the competitions, Emeril will be honored along with restaurateur Sirio Macchioni and “Iron Chef” winner Kerry Simon at the Silver State Awards at the Venetian Showroom on Friday evening. More than 130,000 votes have been cast for Nevada’s best restaurants and lounges in 18 categories, and more than 300 industry leaders will be on hand.
Emeril also hosts the sixth-annual Carnival of Cuisine poolside at the Palazzo deck on Saturday afternoon with three hours of tastings from more than 20 of the sister hotels’ restaurants to benefit our Three Square food bank.
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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With top accommodations, first-rate entertainment, high-end shopping and a slew of acclaimed chefs, the Palazzo has positioned itself as one of the most luxurious resorts on the Strip.
More than 3,000 all-suite rooms start at 740 square feet and are decorated in a modern, yet classic, Italian style. Each room features a sleeping area, with a king or two queens, and a sunken living room area with floor to ceiling windows.
A cathedral ceiling tops the Palazzo casino, while a second 80-foot dome brings natural light to the property's lobby. The 105,000 square foot casino features more than 2,000 slots and 80 table games but lacks the stale smell of cigarettes, as the property is LEED certified with smoking off limits in most of the Palazzo — including 50 percent of the casino floor.
Dining at the Palazzo is among the best of the Strip, starting with Wolfgang Puck's CUT. Chef Simon To serves up authentic Chinese cuisine at Zine, while Sushisamba combines Brazilian and Peruvian flavors with Japanese techniques. At LAVO, club-goers can dine on Mediterranean dishes before heading upstairs to the bath house-inspired nightclub.
In the spirit of Venice, The Venetian is a little piece of romantic Italy right here in Las Vegas. The Venetian is an "all-suite" hotel, with rooms accented with plush linens and Italian marble. The 4,027 suites are divided into two towers: The 36-story Venetian Tower that offers guests a taste of luxurious Las Vegas and the Venezia suites, which guarantee 12 floors of high-end elegance. The top five floors are the hotel's highest level of luxury with its private access, concierge lounge, upgraded features and even a dedicated staff.
The flagship of Venetian nightlife is TAO, an ultra-hip nightclub located inside of TAO Asian Bistro. V Bar is The Venetian's super smooth ultra lounge, made by the owners of New York City's club Lotus and Los Angeles' super swank Sunset Room.
The Venetian features 19 restaurants including Thomas Keller's award-winning French restaurant Bouchon, Mario Batali's B&B Ristorante, Aquaknox for fresh seafood and the 42,000 square foot TAO Asian Bistro. There's also the food court inside the Canal Shoppes for those looking for a quick bite.
Guests can float along The Grand Canal Shops in an authentic Italian gondola ride and pass stores like Burberry and Kenneth Cole along the way. And if you haven't caught a real celeb, on the street in Vegas, you can head over to Madame Tussauds to check out a wax version.