Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 | 10:06 p.m.
TV star chef Bobby Flay and “Top Chef” NOLA cheftestant Shirley Chung have joined the incredible lineup of celebrity kitchen kings and queens for food critic Max Jacobson’s gourmet fundraiser on Sunday, Jan. 19.
Max, author of three editions of “Eating Las Vegas: The 50 Essential Restaurants” with Al Mancini and John Curtas, remains in critical condition with mounting hospital bills at Sunrise Hospital after being struck in a crosswalk by a texting motorist who ran a red light a few days before Christmas.
Shirley, formerly with Guy Savoy and Jose Andres restaurants here, has reached the finals of the current Season 11 of the Bravo hit show with Emeril Lagasse and Tom Colicchio as judges.
She will present unique hors d’oeuvres at a meat station during the cocktail hour preceding the magnificent seven-course menu. Emeril and Tom also are supporting the benefit dinner at Rick Moonen’s Rx Boiler Room above his restaurant RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay.
It’s a throwdown seafood challenge between Bobby and Rick, as they will do different versions of Kona Kampachi. Bobby will prepare his with Korean red pepper-tangerine glaze, pickled Brussels sprout relish and quail egg, and Rick’s will be chili seared with avocado, ruby red grapefruit and Yuzu butter sauce.
In another gastronomic surprise, James Beard Award-winning chef Saipin Chutima of Lotus of Siam, one of Max’s favorite restaurants, will prepare the poultry course with master chef Thomas Keller. Other top names involved: Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken, Megan Romano, Megan Bringas, Hubert Keller, Bradley Ogden, Bruce Bromberg, Grant McPherson, Barry Dakake, Luciano Pellegrini, David Walzog, Kim Canteenwalla and Joey Romano.
As of this posting today, 30 tickets have been sold toward the 100 available, bringing in $30,000. I encourage you to support the star-studded event by purchasing the $1,000 tickets so that Max’s family can use the $100,000 to defray the ever-mounting hospital bills. I’ve purchased two so that the good doctor leading Max’s medical team can attend.
I will be flying back from an out-of-the-country trip. I hope to land in time to race directly there from McCarran to handle the live auction and sell some extraordinary packages that include an at-your-home dinner party with chef Michael Mina and yours truly revealing rich and famous secrets over bubbly.
Here’s the rundown of the fabulous feast:
Four stations will be set up in the restaurant to display live and silent auction items for welcome cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, with Shirley Chung preparing foie gras-stuffed grapes with duck prosciutto; Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger vegetarian cusco corn and potato tacos; David Walzog Kauai sweet prawns; and Johnny Church bacon-wrapped Bacon ’N’ Eggs.
The seven-course dinner and wine pairing will start with an amuse of rock shrimp hand rolls by Vincent Pouessel. The first course will be soup with Bradley Ogden pouring a tableside butternut squash and apple soup and Joseph Romano’s trio of duck pot au feu with black truffles.
N9NE Steakhouse chef Barry Dakake and Honey Salt and Buddy V’s Kim Canteenwalla will serve scallops, Kim’s from Nantucket Bay and Barry’s from New Bedford, with foie gras and white truffles. The third course becomes the seafood throwdown challenge between Bobby and Rick.
The fourth course will be Thomas Keller’s roast chicken poulet roti grand mere and Saipin Chutima’s brilliant Thai spice-roasted squab winner. (These two alone are worth the $1,000 ticket price!)
For the fifth pasta course, Bruce Bromberg plans Max’s favorite oxtail and bone marrow fried rice, and Luciano Pellegrini will prepare ravioli stuffed with Cassoeula Milanese.
Hubert Keller will cook slowly braised Wagyu beef cheeks, another Max favorite, served with foie gras and black truffle sauce for the sixth and meat course teamed with chef Grant McPherson’s ginseng-braised beef oxtail.
Before dessert, there will be Limoncello gelato by Luciano. Megan Romano will create a dark chocolate salted caramel bombe and Megan Bringas a yuzu and match green tea torte for the seventh dessert course.
Each menu item will be paired with wines donated by Larry Ruvo of Southern Wine and Spirits. After the dinner, I’ll MC the live auction, which includes chef Michael Mina cooking a dinner in your home for friends, with yours truly popping the champagne corks and whispering secrets of the rich and famous.
We hope to add more funds for Max’s hospital bills from the silent and live auction items. Before guests leave, they will enjoy dark and milk chocolate bonbons with their coffee prepared by Vincent Pilon, who has just moved to the Cosmopolitan.
“This marvelous menu and the meals are now set,” said Rick this afternoon. “The kitchen is ready. The logistics of almost 20 celebrity chefs, their support teams and their own restaurant crockery and cutlery moving in and out of Mandalay Bay are organized. The chef pairings are winding up their prep for cooking and service.
“This will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime dinner and make for a memorable night to help the needy cause of one of our own neighbors. All we have left to do now is sell 25 tickets a day for the next three days to wrap it up.”
All proceeds benefit Max’s hospital fund. Call (702) 632-9305 to purchase tickets or email [email protected] Credit cards will be required to guarantee seating. Please be generous in your support.
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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