Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 | 8:52 p.m.
It was a highly emotional moment, and many of our Las Vegas star chefs who can normally take the heat and pressures of the kitchen were wiping tears from their eyes.
More than 20 chefs marched onstage at the Venetian Showroom for the Silver State Awards as I introduced “Iron Chef” winner Kerry Simon to accept his Visionary Award from TV star chef Emeril Lagasse.
The Visionary Award was presented to recognize Kerry’s achievements, ideas and vision that provided direction, leadership and voice to the food and beverage industry.
Kerry has Simon at Palms Place, KGB at Harrah’s, Pork & Beans at the Container Park, the Grill at Sapphire and his Simon venues in L.A., Atlantic City, Chicago and the Dominican Republic.
As I said: “His creativity, sense of adventure and passion for his craft set the foundation for all of his restaurants uniting food and fun.”
Kerry is struggling with Multiple System Atrophy, a rare condition that causes symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease but is far more aggressive. My interview with him about the diagnosis was posted last Thursday.
Some uplifting news today: Kerry will begin preparatory tests Wednesday for a stem cell clinical trial. Our prayers go with him on his journey.
It was Kerry’s first time in a new 8 mph wheelchair, as he had been progressively losing his balance and coordination while using a cane and then a walker. The chefs surrounded him as he wheeled up a ramp and onto a center-stage position.
“It was our way of showing support, giving him recognition and saying we’d be there for him,” Mandalay Bay star chef Rick Moonen (RM Seafood, Rx Boiler Room), who mentored Kerry in his early days, told me. “It was a spontaneous reaction from the chefs who were just so moved by him.”
The outpouring and his award overwhelmed Kerry. He told me later: “I never expected any of this. I’m almost speechless, but I can’t say thank you enough to all my kitchen colleagues for supporting me. It’s a big help as I fight this.”
The two other grand Silver State Awards were presented to legendary Le Cirque restaurateur Sirio Maccioni, who received the Pioneer Award, and Emeril, who was honored with the Leadership Award for his “culinary and service excellence and superior achievements in the hospitality industry.”
More than 13,000 votes were cast statewide for the nominees and winners of the Silver State Awards produced by Paolo Sadri, president and founder of TMG Entertainment. More than 300 Nevadans, including restaurant, nightlife and industry leaders, joined the event that I hosted with Las Vegas TV journalists Dayna Roselli and Nina Radetich.
Keep Memory Alive founder Larry Ruvo and Kerry’s restaurant partner Elizabeth Blau will join me and chefs Rick and N9NE Group’s Barry Dakake to lead the first fundraising dinner for Kerry’s care and the hoped-for stem cell treatments. We plan to organize that next month at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
Here are the 2013 Silver State Award winners:
Best New Restaurant, Fine Dining: Honey Salt, Summerlin
Best New Restaurant, Casual Dining: Five 50, Aria
Best Restaurant, Fine Dining: Cut, Palazzo
Best Restaurant, Casual Dining: Eat, downtown
Best Neighborhood Restaurant: Vintner Grill, Summerlin
Rising Star Chef: Bank Atcharawan, Lotus of Siam
Best Chef: Julian Serrano, Picasso, Bellagio
Best Bar/Tavern: Commonwealth, downtown
Best Restaurant, Wine/Spirits Selection: Aureole, Mandalay Bay
Best Buffet: Wynn
Best Sunday Brunch: Wynn Country Club
Best Happy Hour: Blue Martini, Town Square
Best Interior Design, Restaurant: Andrea’s, Encore
Best Interior Design, Bar, Lounge, Nightclub: Hakkasan, MGM Grand
Best Nightclub: XS, Encore
Best Service, Restaurant: Picasso
Restaurateur of the Year: Elizabeth Blau
Congratulations to Kerry, Emeril, Sirio and all the other winners.
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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