Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 | 1:38 p.m.
Aloha! When our Las Vegas cheftestant Shirley Chung won last week’s episode of Bravo’s “Top Chef” in New Orleans, she knew that she’d be heading to Hawaii for the finals with rivals Nina Compton and crotchety, cantankerous and confrontational Nicholas Elmi.
Shirley has cooked on the Strip at the Venetian, Caesars Palace and the Cosmopolitan for a decade under Thomas Keller, Guy Savoy and Jose Andres. She didn’t know, though, that Carlos Gaytan, who was kicked off last week, would make a surprise return with the earlier eliminated Louis Maldonado in a “Last Chance Kitchen” clash on Maui.
The winner of that joins the final three as a foursome to determine the $125,000 winner of “Top Chef.” But then another stunning surprise faces them: Two of the chefs will be eliminated tonight, and just two will slug it out next Wednesday on the final broadcast!
I’ve put a mild bet down that it will wind up with Shirley and Nina in the final battle, and the judges will get into their own feud with a tie that has to be resolved. Talk about edge-of-the-seat fiery drama at the kitchen counter and grill.
First, Shirley has to cope with a Quickfire Challenge of working with the Hawaiian staple of that unattractive food I was fed as a kid: Spam. (Remember Monty Python’s assault on the canned creation?)
Then follows the shocking Double Elimination. My pals Hawaiian chef restaurateurs Sam Choy and Peter Merriman will judge them as two canoes overflowing with island harvests are rowed onto shore.
The chefs have to create the best Hawaiian dish from the produce, and only two will move forward for next week’s ultimate and last showdown.
All of us at Vegas DeLuxe wish Shirley good luck for tonight’s episode, and we’ll have the result on Twitter @robin_leach at 11 tonight, plus, the full recap with photos Thursday morning.
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.
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.
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.