Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 | 4 p.m.
Las Vegas chef Shirley Chung is still doing well on Bravo’s “Top Chef” in New Orleans, and last week she was key to the winning team competing at Kermit Ruffins’ famed jazz speakeasy Vaughan’s in a rice-and-beans potluck challenge.
Tonight on Episode 8, it gets to be a really tough battle as the cheftestants team up to butcher and cook a 300-pound hog.
Shirley, who was born in Beijing and worked with culinary superstars Thomas Keller, Guy Savoy and Mario Batali in Las Vegas and also as executive chef for Jose Andres’ China Poblano at the Cosmopolitan, where it was nominated for a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant of 2011.
Tonight, Shirley has to create her own hot sauce for legendary musician Dr. John in the Quickfire Challenge before joining her rivals to take on the whole pig — and nothing but the pig.
NEW HEROES: A multimillion-dollar renovation that began quietly in 2011 was unveiled today at Madame Tussauds at the Venetian and includes the first fully immersive Marvel 4D theater featuring the largest lineup of Caped Crusaders, including Iron Man, Nick Fury, Thor and Captain America. Legendary comic-book creator Stan Lee officiated at the rope-cutting ceremony.
In addition, the 4D theater has a new 10-minute movie where the superheroes save Las Vegas from destruction. The interactive film will have guests not only in shaking seats but also getting splashed with water. New figures, including Sandra Bullock, Sofia Vergara, Jamie Foxx and Gwen Stefani, also were unveiled.
LATIN GRAMMYS: Thursday is the biggest night of the year for Latin music stars and friends. Expect to see Enrique Iglesias, Natalie Cole, Yandel, Wisin, Gian Marco and our hometown hero Carlos Santana among the stars at Mandalay Bay for the Univision telecast of the 14th annual Latin Grammy Awards. Miguel Bose has been named 2013 Person of the Year.
New Miss Universe Gabriela Isler from Venezuela, who was crowned at Donald Trump’s Moscow pageant a week ago, will make her first U.S. appearance, and celebrity hair guru Michael Boychuck, who is launching his online Hair Academy, will work his magic on her tresses at his salon Color in Caesars Palace. Our local RPM Makeup Academy will make her even more beautiful than she already is.
NASCAR CHAMPIONS: All 12 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers will be onstage at Pearl at the Palms on Dec. 5 as part of Champions Week here Downtown and on the Strip. Jimmie Johnson, who nailed his sixth consecutive championship Sunday, will be center stage at the After the Lap fan-favorite show. Impromptu questions and unexpected requests have delivered memorable moments: Denny Hamlin performed the “Dougie” onstage, and the drivers grouping for a “Gangnam Style” workout set the crowd abuzz.
“NASCAR After the Lap in Las Vegas is an event unlike any other in sports that gives our fans the chance to see the drivers with their helmets off and their guard down,” Norris Scott, NASCAR vice president of partnership marketing, told Vegas DeLuxe. “Celebrating its fifth-consecutive season, After the Lap has evolved into one of the most talked about events of Champions Week.” Earlier that day, I’ll be the MC for driver introductions on the Strip before they roar in their racecars.
INDIA TRAVELS: Las Vegas star chef Akira Back (Yellowtail, Kumi) has opened his own self-named restaurant this week in New Delhi, India. He emailed me to say his contemporary restaurant at JW Marriott Hotel in Aerocity is spread across two levels with an upper-level inner courtyard. His 25-foot-tall sake wall pans across both levels, and his central open-glass kitchen houses the longest grill in India.
He’s put Sakura patterned tattoos in the washed concrete walls to create an understated sense of drama. Recently named Best Chef by our colleagues at Las Vegas Weekly, Akira says he’s taken many of his favorite Las Vegas favorite dishes to India, with a seasonal tasting menu to go with cold and hot small plates of innovative Japanese dishes with Korean accents.
ROCK LOVES: Motley Crue rocker Vince Neil and his Las Vegas makeup artist girlfriend Rain Hannah have made their love match official with their first-ever joint TV appearance while on tour in Seattle this week. Here together for Thanksgiving next week, Vince next headlines at the Rock & Roll Academy show in Orleans Arena on Dec. 5.
The Las Vegas premiere of “Homefront” with Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone, Kate Bosworth, James Franco and Winona Ryder is at Planet Hollywood.
Human Nature, Celtic Woman and “Panda” officially open Winter in Venice at the Venetian.
Pianist and singer Bill Fayne leads his pals including Clint Holmes, Zowie Bowie, Lorraine Hunt and Jazzin’ Jeannie Brel in a salute to Sinatra at the Copa Room of Bootlegger Bistro.
The Suicide Girls host their own Miss Olivia Black’s birthday celebration at Chateau in Paris Las Vegas.
DJ A-Trak spins at Light in Mandalay Bay.
DJ Mike Attack is at Lavo in Palazzo.
DJ Snake and Dillon Francis are at Surrender in Steve Wynn’s Encore.
We’ll preview the Latin Grammys and have reports and photos from “Homefront” and Winter in Venice. Plus, the new Beaujolais arrives, and star chef Thomas Keller toasts the vintage.
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 Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
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.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas dares to be different. From the hotel’s red reservations desks to fine art found throughout the resort, The Cosmopolitan’s signature style is helping to pave its own path on the Las Vegas Strip.
Upon entering the resort, you’re greeted by pillars of video boards playing video art by Digital Kitchen and David Rockwell Studio exclusively produced for The Cosmopolitan. Just beyond that, you’ll find all your favorite casino games on the resort’s 100,000-square-foot casino floor.
The Cosmopolitan’s rooms standout as the resort’s most unique feature. About 2,220 of The Cosmopolitan’s 2,995 rooms have 6-foot deep terraces that span the length of the room, a first at a modern Strip hotel. Other in-room amenities include soaking tubs, kitchenettes and quirky accessories like artsy coffee table books.
The dining experience at The Cosmopolitan isn’t something you’ll find at other Strip resorts, either. All of The Cosmopolitan’s 13 restaurateurs are new to the Las Vegas market. You’ll find American steakhouse fare in a modern setting at STK, top-notch sushi at Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill and the freshest fish flown in from the Mediterranean daily at Estiatorio Milos.
Whether the sun is up or down, Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub is the place to find the party at The Cosmopolitan. The venue is a dayclub/nightclub, complete with a pool and cabanas outside and three different rooms with three different vibes inside.
If nightclubs aren’t your thing, you can grab a drink at one of The Cosmopolitan’s five other bars, like The Chandelier, which is encased in 2 million dripping crystals.