Monday, May 13, 2013 | 3:33 a.m.
The first two days of the four-day 2013 Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit were jam-packed and kicked off with a Mionetto Prosecco saber off led by chef Michael Mina alongside some 40 chefs outside Hakkasan Las Vegas at MGM Grand on Thursday afternoon. Thanks to Erik Kabik of Retna for his photo gallery of the festivities.
The saber off — with chefs from Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand — signaled great things to come, including Master Series Dinners, an opening-night party at Angel Management Group’s Hakkasan, a poolside party with Mina, an interactive dinner with chef Joel Robuchon and the Friday night Grand Tasting at Garden of the Gods at Caesars.
Thank to Isaac Brekken of WireImage for his photo galleries and to Christopher Rauschnot @24kMedia on Twitter for his video posted on YouTube. Here are the highlights and recaps, with Days 3 and 4 and more culinary news to come later today:
MASTER SERIES DINNERS AT CAESARS
Later on Thursday, Caesars hosted Master Series Dinners where Guy Savoy, Bobby Flay, Francois Payard, the Pellegrino Family, Gordon Ramsay, Thomas Buckley and Michel Richard served signature dishes at the same time to guests and their respective restaurants.
Chef and restaurateur Savoy welcomed guests to his restaurant for a multi-course meal at Dinnertime Decadence with Guy Savoy. In less than a year after opening, Savoy’s first restaurant received a Michelin Star. Guests enjoyed lobster, jumbo lump crab and beets in cold steam, artichoke and black truffle soup and roasted duck, pea puree, morels and canon of carrot.
At Mesa Grill, Flay served signature Southwestern cooking at Spice Market With Bobby Flay. His goal was to bring an “explosion of flavor” — your “taste buds will not be asleep!” The dishes: blue crab and green chile tamale with roasted corn sauce, crispy squash blossoms, BBQ duck and American bison short ribs, peanut-smoked chile mole, asparagus, fava beans and cotija.
Monsieur Payard feature French fare, of course, at his Vive La France With Francois Payard. Payard’s menu: chilled seafood cocktail, Atlantic diver scallops, a kitchen sink salad and chocolate cake.
Prosecco was served upon arrival at Central as guests awaited a six-course meal at Richard’s It Takes Two. The menu included yellowtail carpaccio, red snapper and roasted veal chop.
At Nobu, executive chef Thomas Buckley offered Crossing Continents. The chef and his team served yellowtail jalapeno, black cod miso, new style sashimi salad and assorted sushi.
Ramsay’s self-titled Master Series Dinner featured chilled fennel soup, chilled shrimp, pan-seared diver scallops, braised artichokes and grilled rack of lamb with olive-crusted potatoes and baby zucchini at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill. Dessert? Sticky toffee pudding paired with Melville Fruit Beer.
The Pellegrino Family hosted a multi-course Italian feast at Rao’s. Frank Pellegrino Sr. said, “Vegas Uncork’d is an incredible event. It has been a distinct honor to be a part of it for the last seven years.” Son Frank Pellegrino Jr. walked from table to table as guests enjoyed insalata caprese, roasted bone marrow, seared halibut and espresso-spiced venison loin.
OPENING PARTY AT HAKKASAN
After the Master Series Dinners, chefs and guests made their way to newly opened Hakkasan’s Vegas Uncork’d kickoff party. Michelin-starred chef Ho Chee Boon and his team served the F&B. Guests included Border Grill’s chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Mike Minor, Flay, Ramsay, Masaharu Morimoto, Rick Moonen, Jason Smith, Robuchon, Payard and Bon Appetit execs.
Robuchon commenced Friday’s lineup at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon at MGM Grand with his Cooking & Wine Demo. Guests enjoyed chilled light sweet pea cream over a gelee, soft boiled egg and comte cheese atop green asparagus and beef cheeks braised with red miso and ginger with spring vegetables.
THREE MARGARITA LUNCH
At Mandalay Bay, the day continued to heat up with Milliken and Minor at Three Margarita Lunch. The duo mixed up cucumber cilantro margaritas, tamarind chinchon margaritas and pineapple vanilla margaritas, complementing zesty corn arepa, pepita, flax seed and sesame-crusted spring lamb chop and la bomba rice pudding.
Later Friday, Mina hosted 1842 Poolside at MGM Grand, and guests received a glimpse and taste of the menu of his new restaurant Pub 1842. The menu included lobster corn dogs, spring rolls, deviled eggs and mini crab cakes. Mina talked with guests as they perused the burger slider stations, including turkey, salmon, peanut and classic steak burgers.
SENSI HAPPY HOUR
Bellagio chefs Roy Ellamar and Ricardo Murcia hosted Happy Hour at Sensi featuring farm-fresh cuisine and cocktails. Ingredients were shaken, mixed and muddled from four Sensi quadrants: herbs, bitters, sake and citrus. Guests voted their favorite duo as the Green Sapphire cocktail with cucumber, hand-squeezed lime juice, simple syrup and cucumber sparkling water and avocado beignets with black sesame puree, bacon jam and sorrel.
TEA TIME AT AUREOLE
At Tea Time at Aureole’s Swan Court at Mandalay Bay, guests enjoyed bite-size desserts from Mandalay Bay pastry chefs, snacks from the Aureole team and freshly brewed gourmet teas. Chef Charlie Palmer instructed guests to take a spoon of tea from their cups and slurp to get the maximum flavor. The menu: lemon almond madeleine and organic pomegranate gojiberry green Tea; walnut butter prosciutto crostini with organic citrus rooibos tea; and heirloom tomato basil pesto panini with organic chai spiced black tea.
SOMMELIERS VS. CHEFS
At Bellagio, it was a face off at Sommeliers vs. Chefs: Go Cork to Knife at Tuscany Kitchen. David Lynch, Bon Appetit wine editor, introduced each chef, and Master Sommelier Jason Smith helped emcee. Mina Group’s Wine Director Raj Parr and Mina had twenty 20 to create courses and wine pairings for guests with “secret” ingredients including lobster and mushrooms.
2013 Vegas Uncork’d Grand Tasting red carpet
During the evening, the pool oasis Garden of the Gods at Caesars once again played host to the Grand Tasting. Chefs on the red carpet included Robuchon, Alain Ducasse, Todd English, Flay, Ramsay, Payard, Palmer, Moonen, Milliken, Savoy, Boon, Christina Wilson and Mina.
Chefs and guests dined, drank, mixed and mingled at the more than 50 food stations with some 100 wines. Among the newbies this year at the Grand Tasting: Bacchanal Buffet with chef Scott Green; Andrea’s with chef Joseph Elevado; and a preview of The Linq properties, including Fame and Brooklyn Bowl.
VODKA AND CAVIAR
As if the Grand Tasting wasn’t enough, the night ended with the Vodka and Caviar Social at Red Square at Mandalay Bay hosted by chef Brian Massie. Wilson and Payard were among the guests who enjoyed smoked salmon deviled eggs with American caviar and dungeness crab deviled eggs with salmon roe. Red Square offered cocktails included Deviled in St. Petersburg with Russian Standard Vodka, fresh lemon, basil peppercorn syrup and bitters and — dangerous! — a build your own martini station.
And that was just the first two days. Check back for Days 3 and 4 — and more culinary news.
Don Chareunsy is editor of Vegas DeLuxe and senior editor for arts and entertainment of the Las Vegas Sun.
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.
Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
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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.