Glenn Pinkerton/Las Vegas News Bureau
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 | 3:19 a.m.
The outrageous 2013 Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit feast continued for the final two days Saturday and Sunday. Just when you thought, after Days 1 and 2, that you couldn’t munch another morsel, cram another calorie and devour another delectable delicacy, along came outrageous oysters, luscious lobsters, a royal roast and killer caviar.
OYSTERS AT AUREOLE
It all began for oyster lovers Saturday at the swan court patio of Charlie Palmer’s Aureole at Mandalay Bay. Chef Charlie and his executive chef Vincent Pouessel presented Oysters Extravaganza, a dazzling array of half shells including chilled East and West Coast oysters, fried Wellfleet oysters and oyster and sangria shooters served in carved-out cucumbers and tomatoes. Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Mike Minor of nearby Border Grill popped in for the shucking good time.
FARM FRESH WITH JEAN-GEORGES
Over at Bellagio, star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten set up one long table on the Grand Patio overlooking the pool for 100 guests. The theme was “Farm Fresh to Tempting Table,” with kale caesar, caramelized scallops and grilled beef tenderloin.
ZINFANDEL DIARIES AT JASMINE
Nearby at Jasmine, Master Sommelier Jason Smith hosted the Zinfandel Diaries with a variety of Zinfandel wines including Rafanelli, Ridge Geyserville, Robin James Dusi Paso Robles and Cupcake Red Velvet Lodi. Believe it or not, we learned that the correct way to taste wine is by noisily slurping the wine to achieve oxidization. Same thing with tea, according to Charlie.
WAGYU WITH MICHAEL MINA
The culinary aficionados marched to Mandalay Bay for an exquisite three-course Japanese Wagyu tasting hand-crafted by star chef Michael Mina. From his world travels, he served exquisite Japanese cuisine and whiskey pairings, matching grilled Wagyu beef with charred miso. To ensure that nobody missed a drop, there was a Japanese whiskey ceremony featuring 12-year Yamasaki whiskey.
MASTER MIXOLOGIST TONY ABOU-GANIM
There were even more drinks on hand steps away with chef Rick Moonen and Master Mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim at RM Seafood’s Hand-Crafted Collaboration at Mandalay Bay. At this interactive flavor-and-texture demonstration, guests were served a highlight of Thai green papaya salad with seared diver scallop paired with The Wizard, an invigorating American Harvest vodka, Bianco vermouth, yellow chartreuse and orange bitters cocktail.
Mandalay Bay chefs Hubert Keller and Laurent Pillard and Nevada’s only female certified cicerone, Sarah Johnson, set up a beer garden in the casino resort’s Mizuya Lounge, with an Alsatian brasserie menu strangely paired with live Irish music.
DESSERT WITH FRANCOIS PAYARD
The fun festivities and good company continued at Payard Patisserie & Bistro at Caesars Palace. Chef François Payard gave guests tips on the skills and techniques that go into creating his heavenly sugary concoctions. He revealed that 12,000 macaroons are whipped up daily.
JOEL ROBUCHON AT MANSION
I stopped in before The Rolling Stones concert at MGM Grand Garden Arena to check on the extravagant and extraordinary six-course meal that Chef of the Century Joel Robuchon prepared at his restaurant Mansion at MGM Grand. The table settings were as elegant as any White House state dinner or Buckingham Palace royal welcome.
Joel’s stunning selection included salmon tartar with shiso sprouts and caviar, heavenly cheese souffle flan served with fresh morels fricassee, spiny lobster roasted in a shellfish jus with bell peppers, lemongrass emulsion, roasted farm chicken with chateau chalon cooked in cocotte morel fricassee and mascarpone mousse and lemon zest cake, strawberry foam and fresh lemon sorbet.
Don’t even bother to attempt that at home. Go to Mansion and revel like royalty.
Bellagio Block Party
Bellagio Block Party
BELLAGIO BLOCK PARTY
The night was just warming up. The Bellagio Block Party featured a grill challenge between chef Todd English (Bellagio and CityCenter) and chef Akira Back (The Mirage) and two students from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School. The winning Cordon Bleu student snagged a $20,0000 scholarship and the runner-up a $5,000 scholarship from Chase Sapphire Preferred. Our thanks to Christopher Rauschnot @24kMedia on Twitter for posting his two videos on YouTube.
During the party in a block in between Bellagio and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Michael hosted the one-of-kind dining and entertainment experience with music, craft beers, sake, wine and cocktails. The all-star lineup included Jean-Georges, Akira, Todd English, Julian Serrano, Edmund Wong, Jason Johnston, Royden Ellamar, Jean-Paul Labadie, Shawn McClain and Ben Jenkins. Other standouts: Chada Thai, Herbs & Rye and Patron-infused popsicles.
ALAIN DUCASSE’S MIX PARTY
Award-winning French chef Alain Ducasse hosted a midnight party at his Mix at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay, where the cuisines of his French Riviera, from St. Tropez to Monte Carlo, met the late-night vibe of Las Vegas.
MOTHER’S DAY BRUNCH AT MIX
Sunday was no day of rest. Plus, it was time to celebrate Mother’s Day in style. The midnight mayhem became a brilliant brunch at Mix with Alain and his executive chef Bruno Riou. Sparkling wine and classic cocktails were served with a menu of lobster and coconut gazpacho, foie gras and haricot vert salad, boneless rib eye and herb butter roasted chicken. And the toasts were to moms around the world.
RAO’S BRUNCH ON THE PATIO
The afternoon of Mom festivities under the sun continued with the Pellegrino Family on the porch of their restaurant Rao’s at Caesars. It was a backyard-style BBQ served with an Italian twist with never-ending Italian cocktails and an endless array of dishes such as tomato red onion salad with buffalo mozzarella, linguine with tuna sauce and grilled pork chops with cherry peppers.
SUNDAY ROAST WITH GORDON RAMSAY
It was the Strip’s newest celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay, who wound down the final hours of this seventh-annual, stuff-your-stomachs Vegas Uncork’d feast. Talk about a finish with a royal flourish! He ordered up a bona fide traditional English Sunday Roast at his popular Pub & Grill at Caesars. Talk about me going home for Sunday dinner: roasted fingerling potatoes, seared Scottish salmon, minted English peas and a selection of beer including Carlsberg Lager, John Smith Pale Ale and Strong Bow Cider. Cheers!
Congratulations to all our chefs, kitchen staffs and the dozens of people who made it all such a phenomenal four-day success. We are so fortunate to have such top of the world talents here. No wonder Bon Appetit comes to Las Vegas rather than any other city on Earth, recognizing our culinary kingdom.
Let’s hope that next year one of our wonderful local charities can benefit from it all. That seems to be the only ingredient on the magnificent menu that’s missing.
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 Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
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Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
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.