Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013 | 12:56 a.m.
It began with the eye-popping sight of a 300-pound bluefin tuna.
It continued with fine dining from such top chefs as Julian Serrano, Masa Takayama and Shawn McClain. And it concluded with a treasure hunt for the world’s best burger as celebrated chefs Joel Robuchon and Michael Mina voted on the winner.
Even if you ate nothing at the three-day Food & Wine All-Star Weekend hosted by MGM Resorts at Aria, Bellagio and MGM Grand, you would still have been fully satisfied just looking at the extraordinary taste treats.
The fourth-annual event captivated sell-out crowds for the eight multi-course events staged in celebrity chefs collaboration, and Asian chefs at Bellagio redefined the Las Vegas buffet as the ultimate topping.
The weekend began at MGM Grand’s Shibuya on Friday with executive chef Heather Zheng teaching “10 Ways to Sushi.” Heather and her sushi chefs educated guests about Japanese cuisine’s most popular fish — tuna — and served multiple courses in different fashions, such as tuna carpaccio and seared tuna tataki. MGM Grand Director of Wine and Master Sommelier Joe Phillips offered sake pairings throughout the tuna-tasting experience.
Shibuya/Christopher Rauschnot @24kMedia on Twitter
I joined Masa, Julian and Shawn for the ultimate kickoff cocktail reception at Aria’s View Bar on Friday night. The all-star chefs prepared appetizers from their respective Aria restaurants. Favorites included Bar Masa’s tuna toro caviar; Sage’s kushi oyster with aged tequila mignonette; and Julian Serrano’s coca vegetarian, a Spanish pizza made with aioli, tomato, onion and pisto.
View Bar/Christopher Rauschnot @24kMedia on Twitter
Award-winning chefs and sommeliers from MGM Grand and Bellagio also attended the red carpet affair, among them Marco Maccioni, Anthony Amaroso, Craig Schoettler, Kim Wood, Steve Benjamin, Claude Le-Tohic, Scott Irestone, Steve Barr, Vincenzo Scarmiglia, Heath Cicerelli, Anthony Schutz, Akira Back, Ricardo Murcia and Patrick Lee.
The good times and good tastes continued Saturday morning when Michael Mina welcomed guests to a four-course “All-Star Brunch” at his American Fish in Aria with culinary masterminds Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jean-Philippe Maury and legendary restaurateur Sirio Maccioni, from New York’s Le Cirque, Circo in Bellagio and Sirio on Aria, who flew out to host dinners at his restaurants.
Delectable dishes included Michael’s smoked salmon egg Benedict, Sirio’s veal agnolotti topped with mushroom ragout and black truffle, grilled filet mignon with buttery hot sauce from Jean-George’s Steakhouse and an illuminated hazelnut tart from Jean Philippe Patisserie. Aria Director of Wine Kim Wood and mixologist Craig Schoettler provided cocktail and wine pairings with each course to start the second day right.
Burger Bash/Christopher Rauschnot @24kMedia on Twitter
The weather was perfect for MGM Grand’s poolside “Burger Bash” as eight restaurants served endless sliders in a contest to become Las Vegas’ burger champion. Avenue 24, Pub 1842, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House, Fiamma Trattoria & Bar, Shibuya and Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill circled the pool serving hundreds of burger fans before battling for the celebrity judges. Joel, Michael and Hakkasan’s Ho Chee Boon, plus, new “Fantasy” star Jaime Lynch scored all of the burgers.
The final vote was razor thin, but it was Michael Mina’s Pub 1842 that took the title with the winning dish: a prime beef patty topped with smoked Gouda and melted American cheeses, Pub 1842’s secret sauce and piles of crispy bacon. Naturally, a proud chef Michael congratulated his team for their win.
Wine connoisseurs headed to Bellagio’s Jasmine for the lively “Syrah Wine Tasting” by Bellagio Director of Wine and Master Sommelier Jason Smith with iRed Car Wines owner Carroll Kemp and Amavi Cellars partner Travis Goff. Fine-dining fanatics gathered in Joel’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant at MGM Grand as the Chef of the Century prepared a “Six-Course Bliss” feast. The dishes included Le Homard, a Maine lobster simmered in Chateau Chalon, and Le Porc Iberique, a caramelized plume of Iberico pork served with creamy polenta and golden Belgian endives.
The highly anticipated white-truffle shavings started the meal, and chef Joel also prepared Le Champignon, indulgent veal ravioli and Paris mushrooms topped with shaved truffles. He left the kitchen to meet and thank guests and gave them all a signed copy of his newest cookbook as a gift.
Two leaders in the epicurean world joined forces for the four-course, wine-paired “Michael Mina & Far Niente Dinner” on Bellagio’s Grand Patio, overlooking the resort’s pool: chef Michael and Jason, the master sommelier.
The weekend wrapped with Bellagio’s acclaimed Asian chefs at Jasmine for the brunch “From Far East to Champagne.” Bellagio executive chef Edmund Wong, Noodles executive chef Patrick Lee and Jasmine executive chef Hiew Gun Khong joined forces to provide delectable dishes with flowing champagne and three specialty cocktails.
Guests who had flown in from as far away as New York and Miami for the Food & Wine weekend all gave their votes of approval and added: “We never stopped eating from start to finish. We’re going home very full, very contented and totally satisfied.”
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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MGM Grand, a AAA Four Diamond resort, offers 5,044 rooms and suites.
MGM Grand features KÀ by Cirque du Soleil; Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club; and world-class entertainment at the Grand Garden Arena and Hollywood Theatre.
The resort offers signature restaurants by celebrity chefs including Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House, Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill and Michelin three star and Forbes Five Star restaurant, Joël Robuchon.
As part of its ongoing “Grand Renovation,” MGM Grand has remodeled all rooms and suites in its main tower and is adding several new experiences to its lineup including Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant and Nightclub, a new upscale dining/nightlife concept (coming in April 2013).
MGM Grand also features a state-of-the-art, non-smoking conference center, the Grand Spa, Cristophe Salon, "CSI: The Experience" and an inviting pool complex featuring the tantalizing daylife of Wet Republic.
Upscale accommodations include The Mansion, an exclusive hotel within the hotel; the luxurious two-story SKYLOFTS at MGM Grand; and The Signature at MGM Grand, a luxury all-suite, non-gaming hotel located adjacent to the main resort.