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September 30, 2014

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Strip Scribbles: Carla Pellegrino departs for Miami; Hannah Fraser fights to save the whales

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Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

Carla Pellegrino attends the 2013 Keep Memory Alive “Power of Love” Gala celebrating the joint 80th birthdays of Sir Michael Caine and Quincy Jones at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, April 13, 2013.

Bratalian's First Anniversary With Chef Carla Pellegrino

Bratalian's first anniversary with chef Carla Pellegrino in Henderson on Monday, June 18, 2012. Launch slideshow »

“I miss you already,” sobbed “Top Chef” in Seattle beauty Carla Pellegrino at her “farewell party” Monday night at her restaurant Bratalian in Henderson. Chef Carla leaves Wednesday for Miami to open a brand new dining concept that will keep her in Florida for about 10 months before she starts commuting back and forth to Las Vegas for two weeks every month.

“It’s a new beginning with a new concept and for me a return to fine dining. I’m excited and nervous because it’s a large 240-seat restaurant undertaking and includes service in a rooftop nightclub.

“It’s new construction in a new building, so it’s starting right from the very beginning. Everything will be from scratch. We’re planning to have it open for Valentine’s Day, and then I’ll spend another six months ensuring that it’s running perfectly.”

Carla told me she has to develop two menus: a fine-dining Italian menu and a new American casual cuisine for the lounge-club space that will include a raw bar. “I’ve only ever spent a New Year’s Eve in Miami, so I’ve never really been there for more than the week it took to make this deal,” she laughed.

It’s been a highly frenetic weekend for the bombshell chef. She dazzled with her demonstrations and cooking classes at Life Is Beautiful weekend festivities, started packing for her extended Miami stay and prepared for Wednesday’s flight.

“I’m going crazy,” she admitted. “We’ll make it all work. My sister will continue to run Bratalian, and then we’re going to get ready for another restaurant downtown. I’m going to be quite the commuter over the next year between Miami and Las Vegas!”

Mermaid Convention and Awards at the Silverton

The mermaid convention and awards at Silverton Casino Lodge in Las Vegas on Aug. 12 and 13, 2011. Launch slideshow »
Click to enlarge photo

Hannah Fraser swims with whales.

UNDERWATER HERO: “Living mermaid” and underwater swim model Hannah Fraser has completed an extraordinary documentary for Emmy-winning cinematographer and photographer Shawn Heinrichs. They joined forces to focus on the theme of “Betrayal” and how humans have badly treated whales around the world.

One-time Silverton Casino Lodge aquatic tank swimmer and star of the debut Cirque du Soleil “One Drop” benefit show at Bellagio, Hannah created stunning imagery with endangered whale sharks and manta rays. Their film “Manta’s Last Dance” contributed to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species securing their protected status.

Now Hannah, who stars in the mermaid convention here, has filmed her experiences with a humpback whale calf and is hoping the film will protect them. There’s a shocking twist at the end, a sad indictment of the human race.

“It’s a strong wakeup call to humanity to recognize the beauty, vulnerability and worth of this giant sentient being,” Hannah told me. “Well over 2 million whales were killed by commercial whalers in the 20th century, driving most great-whale species to the brink of extinction. Finally in 1986, the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling, giving whales a reprieve from the mass slaughter and offering these species a last chance at survival.

“However, Japan, Norway and Iceland have continued whaling, killing over 30,000 more great whales. Japan has continued to hunt whales under the guise of ‘research’ in the Southern Ocean, while Norway has increased its hunt of fin whales in the North Atlantic. Iceland recently restarted their hunt for minke whales, and the Faroe Islands has continued their barbaric slaughter of many hundreds of pilot whales in a bloody event call the Grind.

“Some of these nations are now aggressively campaigning to overthrow the ban on commercial whaling. We must, must uphold and strengthen the global moratorium on whaling. Many great-whale species produce only one baby every three years, and every time we kill one whale, we are threatening their very survival.”

FUTURE SUPERSTAR? Henderson teen Malia Civetz, a 2012 Las Vegas Academy graduate, is well on her way to stardom. A sophomore at USC’s Thornton School of Music, Malia performed at the Dream Foundation Gala in Santa Barbara, Calif., honoring Barry Manilow with its Humanitarian Award. Malia joined Olivia Newton-John, Darren Criss, Richie Sambora, Jane Lynch and Nigel Lythgoe, among many others, in the Celebration of Dreams gala hosted by Priscilla Presley.

Malia almost had no time to wait for the standing ovation and thunderous applause at then end. She rushed down to Staples Center in L.A. to belt out the Canadian and U.S. national anthems when the L.A. Kings took on the Edmonton Oilers. We remember Malia here on the Strip when she appeared onstage for Barry’s closing weekend at the Paris, when he selected her winner of his worldwide talent contest.

She is no stranger to high-profile performances; she sang the national anthem for President Obama when she was only 16. Malia’s early recognition includes as a Star of Tomorrow at age 13 at Apollo Theater in New York.

La Comida's Grand Opening Celebration

From left: Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, owner Michael Morton, Councilman Bob Coffin, owner Jenna Morton and Tony Hsieh raise their drinks to a toast at the La Comida restaurant's grand opening on Thursday, May 17, 2013. Launch slideshow »

CRUSH OPENS: Local restaurateurs Jenna and Peter Morton have set an early December date for the opening of their new eat, drink, love venue Crush at MGM Grand. Executive chef William DeMarco has been tapped for the 7,000-square-foot, two-room lunch and dinner restaurant complete with a greenhouse garden in the former Nob Hill space by Michael Mina. “It’s indulgent,” said Jenna. “This is our tribute to the ancient ritual of communal feasting where dinner out is more than just about the food; it is a party.”

MGM Grand President and COO Scott Sibella added: “It has given us the opportunity to create exclusive and fun experiences, and this high-energy venue looks to deliver on both.” The doorway at the back of the garden reveals the dining cellar, which is topped in its entirety by a barrel-vault ceiling composed of white brick. The cellar also features a private dining room for 40.

Crush offers a cosmopolitan shared-plate menu, with selections inspired by traditional favorites, as well as standouts from regions around the world. Chef William DeMarco promises “an over-the-top Las Vegas experience.” Peter says Crush is an entirely new concept to the couple’s properties that include La Cave Wine and Food Hideaway in Wynn and La Comida downtown.

TONIGHT’S TIPS

Who better than a year-round Halloween character to celebrate the spooky celebration at Hyde Bellagio? Marilyn Manson in his usual madcap makeup and wacky wardrobe will host the ghoulish gathering. The Fashion Mob led by stylist Valerie McClaskey of Boutikitou throws a “Monster Vogue” party at Hyde earlier to benefit two local charities: Shade Tree and Three Square food bank.

Rita Rudner brings the laughs at Venetian Showroom.

Kyle Dunnigan and Danielle Stewart headline at the Improv at Harrah’s through Sunday.

Juicy J brings Halloween horror to 1OAK in the Mirage.

TOMORROW’S TEASE

Criss Angel celebrates the fifth anniversary of his Cirque du Soleil show “Believe” at the Luxor and looks ahead at what’s to come as he is about to undergo shoulder surgery, plus, a five-day Royal Robin Rundown of Halloween happenings on and off the Strip.

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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