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September 18, 2014

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Photos: Vegas Uncork’d Grand Tasting — America’s top culinary event of the year

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Erik Kabik / Retna / ErikKabik.com

Gordon Ramsay, Nobu Matsuhisa, Guy Savoy, Susan Feniger, Giada De Laurentiis and Mary Sue Milliken arrive at the Grand Tasting of 2014 Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit on Friday, May 9, 2014, at Garden of the Gods in Caesars Palace.

2014 VUBBA: Grand Tasting at Caesars

The Grand Tasting of 2014 Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit on Friday, May 9, 2014, at Garden of the Gods in Caesars Palace. Launch slideshow »

2014 VUBBA Grand Tasting at Caesars

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Guy Savoy, Giada De Laurentiis and Francois Payard attend the Grand Tasting of 2014 Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit on Friday, May 9, 2014, at Garden of the Gods in Caesars Palace.

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Kerry Simon, center, arrives at the Grand Tasting of 2014 Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit on Friday, May 9, 2014, at Garden of the Gods in Caesars Palace.

It’s not called America’s top culinary event of the year for no reason. It brings together many of the world’s best chefs in the best of circumstances: an incredible camaraderie without competition, a beautiful setting around Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis at Caesars Palace and the ultimate display of a staggering variety of their signature dishes.

With perfect evening desert temperatures Friday night, it was the ultimate topper of this year’s four-day Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit food-and-wine festival. About 2,500 guests brushed shoulders with more than 60 kitchen kings and queens cooking and serving delectable dishes and with more than 40 winemakers pouring their libations.

On the red carpet, the chefs gave cheers and applause to heroic Kerry Simon, who arrived on a motorized wheelchair battling Multiple System Atrophy. His Kerry’s Gourmet Burger from Harrah’s had a booth for his signature sample dishes at what has now become one of the largest Vegas Uncork’d events to date.

Glamorous Giada De Laurentiis made her debut at the five-acre swimming oasis with its eight pools and gardens and was joined by Border Grill star chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, who are opening a new branch in the Forum Shops of Caesars Palace this summer.

The list of star chefs was literally endless: Gordon Ramsay representing his three restaurants here on the Strip along with “Hell’s Kitchen” winner Christina Wilson, Buddy Valastro, Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud, Guy Savoy, Nobu Matsuhisa, Joel Robuchon, Claude Le-Tohic and Steve Benjamin, Michael Mina, Thomas Keller, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Sirio Maccioni, Julian Serrano, Shawn McClain, Hubert Keller, Alain Ducasse, Francois Payard, Pierre Gagnaire, Eric Klein and the Wolfgang Puck Spago team, Todd English, Frankie Pellegrino Jr., Greg and Marc Sherry from Old Homestead and many others from other Strip hotels, plus Lady Hakkasan in her red-and-gold designer gown.

“Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto, set to open at the Mirage early next year, in chef shorts had lines of fans for his Japanese fish tacos and in between serving them gave demos on how to cut and slice the fish he’d flown over from Asia. Radiant TV star Giada also had lines of fans for her taste treats. The same-day announced Mr. Chow taking over Empress Court at Caesars early next year also managed to have a quickly created booth.

Chefs and VIPs got to unwind after the three-hour food frenzy with an official afterparty of champagne cocktails at the new Fizz ultra lounge at Caesars that Sir Elton John and partner David Furnish decorated with their art collection.

Our thanks to Erik Kabik of Retna for his photo gallery and to Richard Corey for his video posted on YouTube.

I’m told that our Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has two years remaining on its contract with Bon Appetit as the title sponsor of Vegas Uncork’d.

Hotel and wine company executives, chefs and restaurateurs who pick up the majority of costs associated with the functions and travel expenses are hoping that the large income generated from ticket sales and advertising can be donated in the future to Las Vegas charities.

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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