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October 31, 2014

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Reality TV, food and Las Vegas go hand-in-whisk-and-ladle

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Christopher DeVargas

Food Network Chef Guy Fieri talks to culinary students during his visit to UNLV’s Stan Fulton Bistro while filming for his show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. Fieri, a 1990 graduate of UNLV’s Harrah Hotel College, talked to students and Executive Chef and Professor John Gremo about his career accomplishments and how UNLV helped him get there.

Foodie reality TV shows have been a staple on Las Vegas’ culinary scene for many years. As Bravo’s Season 4 of “Top Chef Masters” premiered Wednesday night (the new season was headquartered at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas), we took a look at some of the shows to hit the tube with Las Vegas ties in recent years:

    • Chef Christina Olivarez, winner of the Food Network's "Chopped," celebrates with her parents at her restaurant Diego in MGM Grand on Tuesday, June 19, 2012.

      'Chopped'

      Las Vegas and Southern Nevada has had its fair share of representation on the Food Network’s “Chopped” that features four chefs vying against one another for a chance to win $10,000. During the series' last season, executive chef Christina Olivarez of Diego at MGM Grand walked away a winner with the cash prize. Other locals who have competed but were eliminated before the final round include Brian Howard, executive chef at Comme Ça in the Cosmopolitan; Vic "Vegas" Moea of St. Jude's Ranch for Children in Boulder City; baker Taryn Mumpower of Pick Your Poison Bake Shop; chef and restaurateur Mary Rusch of Hash House a Go Go; chef and executive pitmaster Steve Overlay of Memphis Championship Barbecue; and sous chef Brigeth Brookins, who works in the banquets department at the Cosmopolitan.

    • 'Diners, Drive-ins and Dives'

      The Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” takes host and UNLV alumnus Guy Fieri from city to city in search of the classic “greasy spoon” spot. Local venues featured on the show during its 15 seasons have included Forte European Tapas Bar & Bistro, Bachi Burger, John Mull’s Meats and Road Kill Grill, Four Kegs Sports Pub, Naked City Pizza and most recently Lola’s -- a Southern-style Louisiana Kitchen that is known for its signature roast beef debris po boy.

    • Big Daddy Roll at Rice & Co.

      'Heat Seekers'

      The Food Network’s "Heat Seekers" follows chefs Roger Mooking and Aaron Sanchez across the U.S. looking for the spiciest mouth-burning dishes. During their stop in Las Vegas, the pair faced off at Luxor’s Rice and Company in a hot sushi roll eating contest, they visited Lindo Michoacan to sample the chicken specialty dish "Cry Today, Cry Tomorrow," and they dined at LBS Burger Joint at Red Rock Resort for a sample of jalapeno-drenched potato twisters.

    • Adam Richman, host of the Travel Channel's <em>Man v. Food</em>.

      'Man vs. Food'

      In 2009, the Travel Channel’s "Man vs. Food" came to town to see Las Vegas’ bigger-than-life food offerings. Host Adam Richman sampled spicy seafood at Hot N Juicy Crawfish on Spring Mountain Road, a super-sized breakfast at Hash House a Go Go and, lastly, the six-pound burrito at the now-shuttered NASCAR Cafe at the Sahara.

    • 'Restaurant: Impossible'

      The Maple Tree Countryside Kitchen on Spring Mountain Road reopened its doors last month after “Restaurant: Impossible” rolled in to give it a $10,000 overhaul. The show's producers search for restaurants near financial failure and in need of renovations, then chef Robert Irvine and his crew set up shop for two days and revamp the menu, make aesthetic improvements and help the owners establish better business practices.

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