Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012 | 1:01 p.m.
If culinary genius chef Jean-Louis Palladin was still alive, he would’ve been mighty proud of the spectacular 10 courses of gourmet wonders that 18 of Las Vegas’ top chefs served at the 11th annual dinner honoring him. It was a remarkable feast fit for kings and queens all masterminded by Jean-Louis’ friend chef Andre Rochat at his elegant restaurant Alize atop the Palms on Sunday.
Jean-Louis was only 28 in France when he won two Michelin stars -- the youngest chef with the distinction at the time. In 1979, he opened at the Watergate in Washington, D.C., and was respected by chefs nationwide as the master of his craft. He moved to Las Vegas in 1998 to open Napa at the Rio.
He battled lung cancer and wasn’t able to attend the first Palladin dinner and tragically died a month later in November 2001. The chefs he befriended here and taught them about fresh herbs, organic vegetables, poultry and meat have joined forces for the annual fundraiser to help students become our future chefs through the James Beard Foundation.
I helped MC the 11th dinner and auction and am pleased to report that we had a record turnout of foodies and enjoyed our best ever $100,000 fundraiser. The brotherhood of chefs that Jean-Louis created to raise the levels of cuisine in America was on show in the kitchen at Alize. Our thanks to contributing photographer Tom Donoghue, who captured the magnificent meal and the chef’s kitchen gymnastics to serve the VIP tables.
Nine wines were served to accompany the masterpiece menu: Jean-Philippe Dufoin prepared the two hors d’oeuvres; Rick Moonen of RM Seafood and Laurent Pillard of Fleur both at Mandalay Bay handled the two first alternating course; and Gregory Pugin from Le Cirque at the Bellagio and Stephane Chevet of Japonais at the Mirage prepared the second alternating course.
Joung Sohn from Eiffel Tower at the Paris and Mark Purdy from Alize at the Palms created the third alternating course; Arnaud Masset and Vincent Pouessel of Aureole at Mandalay Bay served the fourth alternating course; and Luciano Pellegrini of Valentino at the Venetian and Royden Ellamar from Sensi at the Bellagio dealt the fifth alternating course.
Barry Dakake from N9NE Steakhouse and Geno Bernardo of Nove Italiano at the Palms presented the sixth alternating course; and Ryuki Kawasake of Twist by Pierre Gagnaire at Mandarin Oriental and Palms executive chef Dewayne Rose teamed for the seventh alternating course.
Megan Romano, owner of Chocolate & Spice Bakery, and Todd Harrington from Michel Richard’s Central at Caesars Palace, ran the alternating dessert course; chocolatier Jean-Marie Auboine whipped up the amazing chocolate truffle confections; and Alize pastry chef Tammy Alana treated with petit tours to go with coffee and tea service.
We all posed on the patio of Ghostbar for the official photograph. Andre and I presented each chef with an engraved bottle of rare 25-year-old scotch in appreciation of his or her generosity.
Isabela Wojcik from the James Beard Foundation told the audience that the meaning of Jean-Louis’ memories and the annual event play an important role in funding the education of future chefs. Our silent and live auctions brought on spirited bidding, with the chefs generously giving away more taste treats at their restaurants. It was the most extraordinary and exceptional meal ever eaten at one time in Las Vegas.
The most talented crew of chefs ever assembled in one kitchen in Las Vegas wanted to make it a very special tribute to the passion, techniques and commitment of Jean-Louis, and they succeeded beyond all expectations. Don't miss out on next year’s gala because we’ve all decided that we’re going to make it even more memorable.
RAO’S VIDEO SERIES: The second installment of Rao’s video series filmed at Caesars Palace has been released, this time with a behind-the-scenes cooking demonstration by chef de cuisine Nicole Grimes.
It’s a rarely seen glimpse behind the coveted family traditions and a signature dish -- seafood salad packed with calamari, shrimp, lobster and crabmeat and bright-tasting citronette dressing. The recipe also is in chef and owner Frank Pellegrino Jr.’s cookbook Rao’s on the Grill.
Frank Pellegrino Jr.
Today, the original Rao’s from 1896 with just 10 tables is still one of the toughest reservations in New York City. Rao’s opened here in 2006.
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.
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