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April 20, 2014

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Counter Intelligence: New book ‘Inside the Food Network’; 24/7 Sammy’s opens; and ‘Taste America’

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Dan Steinberg/AP

Chef and TV personality Giada De Laurentiis will open her first restaurant at the Gansevoort Las Vegas in 2014.

TV Food Network promo

Hot off the grill!

When I helped launch the Food Network, back then the TV Food Network, in 1993, we had only two shows, and I hosted one of them, “Talking Food.” Star chef Emeril Lagasse and I looked a lot younger back then, as this very first promo clip shows.

I don’t mind you laughing because I chuckled remembering how we built it on chewing gum and mirrors well before it went on to its current success in 100 million homes and generating half a billion dollars in annual profit.

Over the years, it brought a galaxy of stars into the spotlight, including Paula Deen, Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, Jamie Oliver and Giada de Laurentiis. Naturally, every other network on television copied us with their own cooking shows and celebrity chefs.

Now former The New York Times journalist Allen Salkin has released a book written on the big drama, appetites and money in “From Scratch: Inside the Food Network” to be published Tuesday by G.P. Putnam’s Sons. He interviewed hundreds of us connected with the network, so you’ll read the internal scandals and feuds with the ever-shifting executives in this rich tale that no one expected to survive.

Allen shows that it really was a roller-coaster ride from chaos to conquest. Did a Wall Street banker really pay UNLV alumnus turned Food Network star chef Guy Fieri $100,000 to be his kitchen friend for a day? Did Rachael almost burn down Emeril’s studio?

You’ll find those juicy gossip answers, plus, numerous others about Martha Stewart, Anthony Bourdain and the Japanese “Iron Chefs” in the book that’s already getting rave reviews ahead of publication. There also is an update on the behind-the-scenes drama over Paula that ended her long run at the network.

Sammy’s Restaurant, Bar & Lounge

The Hot Rocks at Sammy's Restaurant Bar and Grill in Henderson on Friday, September 20, 2013. Launch slideshow »

TOP PIZZA IN NEVADA: The prestigious Zagat Guide on Wednesday announced its pick of the Top 50 pizza restaurants across America, naming one in each state. Our Nevada winner was Settebello in Henderson, but that was well before Wednesday night’s opening of Sammy’s Restaurant, Bar & Lounge in Henderson at Corporate Circle in Green Valley.

His new 24/7 restaurant, bar and gaming lounge won raves from opening-night guests tasting their way through his eclectic menu. My interview with Sami Ladeki was posted on Aug. 13. In addition to platters of perfect pizzas, he’s brought many of the winning menu items from his top-ranked Roppongi in La Jolla.

I wholeheartedly recommend the duck quesadilla, the signature crab stack and the calamari chunks all topped off by a knockout English toffee dessert. It’s a delicious dining experience and will give Strip restaurants a run for their money luring visitors out 15 minutes to the suburbs.

2013 UNLVino: Sake Fever at The Mirage

2013 UNLVino's Sake Fever honoring Masaharu Morimoto with the Dom Perignon Award of Excellence at The Mirage on Friday, April 19, 2013. Launch slideshow »

‘TASTE AMERICA’ AT MIRAGE: Las Vegas is one of the 10 cities playing host to the five weekend “Taste America” festivities for the James Beard Foundation. The national traveling food festival visits us this weekend co-hosted by “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto, who will be opening a restaurant at the Mirage next year.

Free culinary events take place from downtown to Summerlin, including today’s kickoff with Yellowtail and Kumi star chef Akira Back playing host to the chefs at Bellagio. Watch for the “Taste America” truck at farmers markets and grocery stores in town for the next 48 hours.

Chefs taking part in Saturday night’s spectacular poolside gala reception at the Mirage include James Beard Award winners and nominees Francois Payard, Paul Bartolotta, Saipin Chutima, Luciano Pellegrini, Eric Klein, Brian Massie, Julian Serrano, Laurent Tourondel and more.

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.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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