Tuesday, May 7, 2013 | 8:05 p.m.
Never let it be said that Las Vegas isn’t the world’s capital of star chefs and super restaurant dining. It’s proven this weekend yet again as Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit gets under way with one of the largest gatherings of chefs, master sommeliers and food fans. More than 6,000 attendees are expected to attend the four days of eating and drinking.
The spectacular kicks off its seventh annual epicurean adventures Thursday afternoon with a ceremonial burst of prosecco sabered off outside Hakkasan Las Vegas in front of MGM Grand’s gold lion. Michael Mina, honored Monday night with his induction into the Who’s Who of Food at the James Beard Awards in New York, Guy Savoy and Francois Payard from Caesars Palace, Julian Serrano and Jean-Georges Vongerichten from Bellagio and Aria and Mary Sue Milliken from Mandalay Bay join Bon Appetit Editor Adam Rapoport and Cathy Tull of the Las Convention and Visitors Authority for the ceremony.
The Master Series dinners Thursday evening are a majestic masterpiece at Caesars: Award-winning Central chef Michel Richard promises a six-course affair; iconic Old Homestead offers timeless dishes for tasting; celebrity chefs Nobu Matsuhisa, Gordon Ramsay and Bobby Flay are on duty at their restaurants; and Guy Savoy, Francois Payard and the Pellegrino family at Rao’s return. The after-party is at the newly opened Hakkasan, and I’ll have my review of the dazzling Chinese restaurant in our Counter Intelligence column Wednesday.
Chef of the Century Joel Robuchon returns for his cooking-and-wine brunch at his MGM restaurant Friday, followed by chef Charlie Palmer’s afternoon tea party at Aureole in Mandalay Bay. Nearby, Border Grill chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken host a tequila pairing and interactive cooking demo if the south-of-the-border drinks aren’t too plentiful!
Additionally, Michael Mina gives foodies a sneak peek of his PUB 1842 at MGM before its summer opening. The Light Group chef Brian Massie splurges with vodka and caviar at Red Square in Mandalay Bay. More than 2,500 guests are expected for the Grand Tasting poolside at Caesars’ Garden of the Gods on Friday evening, with 50 award-winning chefs and more than 100 global wines.
On Saturday, “Top Chef” judge and contestant Hubert Keller, who flies in from Shanghai where he opened his first Asian Burger Bar last Sunday, joins with chef Laurent Pillard for a beer garden at Mandalay Bay. Nearby at Michael Mina’s Strip Steak is a three-course Japanese wagyu tasting with handcrafted Japanese whiskey pairings, while Charlie Palmer’s Aureole presents an Oyster Extravaganza. Francois Payard will reveal his pastry savvy secrets at his Caesars brasserie, and Michael Mina hosts a Block Party at Bellagio with chefs including Todd English, Akira Back, Julian Serrano and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Two aspiring culinary students from our Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute compete to win a $20,000 scholarship in a Live Grill off presented by the Chase Sapphire Preferred travel rewards card. They’ll be paired as sous chefs with Bellagio award winners Todd English (Olives ) and Akira Back (Yellowtail) for the ultimate live onstage barbecue challenge. The runner-up receives $5,000.
“I am thrilled to participate in the grill challenge to help fund a local culinary student’s schooling,” said Todd. “Vegas Uncork’d is the perfect stage for a live challenge that supports the next generation of Las Vegas culinary talent.” Andrew Knowlton, Bon Appetit restaurant and spirits editor, will serve as emcee and head judge, and a Chase Sapphire cardholder will judge the chefs’ culinary creations and select the winners.
I planned on being a judge but will be reporting from backstage at The Rolling Stones concert at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Chase Sapphire cardholders attending also have a chance to win a private Sunday brunch with Julian Serrano. Celebrated chef Alain Ducasse tops it off with a midnight party at his Mix atop The Hotel at Mandalay Bay.
If you’re full by the three days of feasting, fret not because the extravaganza continues Sunday: Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill hosts a traditional English Sunday roast with all the fixings at his Caesars winner, and nearby Frank Pellegrino Jr. hosts his Italian brunch at world-famous Rao’s.
Now it’s time to drastically diet for 48 hours, lay off the calories and get ready to eat and drink your way around the world — all in a 3-mile section of the Strip. For a complete schedule, go to VegasUncorked.com.
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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MGM Grand, a AAA Four Diamond resort, offers 5,044 rooms and suites.
MGM Grand features KÀ by Cirque du Soleil; Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club; and world-class entertainment at the Grand Garden Arena and Hollywood Theatre.
The resort offers signature restaurants by celebrity chefs including Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House, Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill and Michelin three star and Forbes Five Star restaurant, Joël Robuchon.
As part of its ongoing “Grand Renovation,” MGM Grand has remodeled all rooms and suites in its main tower and is adding several new experiences to its lineup including Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant and Nightclub, a new upscale dining/nightlife concept (coming in April 2013).
MGM Grand also features a state-of-the-art, non-smoking conference center, the Grand Spa, Cristophe Salon, "CSI: The Experience" and an inviting pool complex featuring the tantalizing daylife of Wet Republic.
Upscale accommodations include The Mansion, an exclusive hotel within the hotel; the luxurious two-story SKYLOFTS at MGM Grand; and The Signature at MGM Grand, a luxury all-suite, non-gaming hotel located adjacent to the main resort.
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.