Las Vegas Sun

December 18, 2014

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Guest Columnist:

Restaurateur Elizabeth Blau: Chefs have helped build and grow community of Las Vegas

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Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

2013 UNLVino’s Grand Tasting honoring Elizabeth Blau with the Dom Perignon Award of Excellence at Paris Las Vegas on Saturday, April 20, 2013.

2013 UNLVino: Grand Tasting at Paris

2013 UNLVino's Grand Tasting honoring Elizabeth Blau with the Dom Perignon Award of Excellence at Paris Las Vegas on Saturday, April 20, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Simon Says Fight MSA Benefit

Kerry Simon, second from left, and Bill Murray, right attend the Simon Says Fight MSA benefit at Keep Memory Alive event center Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, in downtown Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

Chefs to the Max at Rx Boiler Room

Chefs to the Max, a fundraising dinner for food critic Max Jacobson, at Rx Boiler Room on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, in Mandalay Place. Launch slideshow »

Robin Leach has finished his annual summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy, and many of our Strip personalities again stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. As Robin revs up for his Strip coverage again, we continue today with our popular guest columns: restaurateur Elizabeth Blau, actor-comedian Kevin Burke and the king of car commercials Josh “The Chop” Towbin. Here’s Elizabeth, who helped “Cake Boss” star Buddy Valastro open his Buddy V’s Ristorante at the Venetian-Palazzo, and, in addition to her Honey Salt restaurant in Summerlin with chef-husband Kim Canteenwalla, they’re about to open a casual bistro and pub in Tivoli Village.

I have lived in Las Vegas for 15 years now and have been lucky enough to have a front-row seat to the growth and development of this valley. I have been lucky to see most of it through the eyes of the restaurant community.

A lot has changed in that time, not just the skyline and the Strip, but our community, our neighborhoods. One of the most exciting developments of recent years is the continued and rapid growth and development of a restaurant scene beyond the borders of the Strip.

Now when I land at the airport, I’m greeted by Caesars Palace’s billboard featuring all of their celebrity chefs, right above the escalator. It’s one of the first things that people arriving into Las Vegas see, a picture of a bunch of chefs; that is amazing.

What has been most remarkable to me is the community that these chefs have helped build and grow and the contributions that the people behind those names have made to our city. Managers, cooks, servers, sommeliers, bartenders, all who have been working on the Strip, or drawn by the names and talent on the Strip, put their roots down and commit their talent to this valley. It makes it an incredible place.

For so long the focus has been on the Strip, but now we are deep into this moment where we are continuing to build our own identity, and more and more restaurants are moving off the Strip. This has been evermore visible the last couple of years as our dining scene has grown into the suburbs, Summerlin, Spring Mountain and Chinatown and downtown.

One of the many things that I have truly appreciated in this evolution of our dining scene is the increased sense of community and neighborhood these restaurants give our city. At Honey Salt, our restaurant, we have had an opportunity to connect with friends, neighbors and the community as a whole in an entirely new way.

In the past two years, we have learned more than we could ever have imagined about the passions, causes and heart of the valley. This summer we have tried to give back a little bit to this community with our Summer of Love, a weekly partnership with a different charity aimed at raising awareness and funds for their cause (HoneySalt.com/sol). We are proud of the enthusiasm of our team for these causes and touched by the support of the community.

The past year especially has been an incredible lesson in the heart and strength of the community that has grown here over the past decades. Throughout this winter, members of the culinary community and the valley as a whole came together to support cause after cause. In January, they rallied around our dear friend Max Jacobson; in February they came to the support of chef Kerry Simon; and then again for chef Ryen Idica.

As we continue deep into the heat of summer, I am constantly in awe and thankful for the love and support that have sprung up here in the desert. I am proud to be part of this community and have enjoyed watching it grow and develop.

It is exciting to think of where we go next, with more and more chefs and entrepreneurs staking their claims throughout the valley, strengthening the neighborhoods and communities one restaurant, boutique, business, bar, shop and store at a time.

Be sure to check out our other guest columnists today, “Defending the Caveman” at Harrah’s star Kevin Burke and TV commercial king Josh “The Chop” Towbin from Towbin Automotive. On Monday, we’ll meet up with N9NE Steakhouse at the Palms chef to the stars Barry S. Dakake and rocker Ben Carey from Lifehouse.

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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