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December 19, 2014

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Strip Scribbles: Master Chefs, First Friday, Yard House, Brooklyn Bowl, ‘Teen Swingers’

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Denise Truscello / WireImage / DeniseTruscello.net

Kerry Simon and Elizabeth Blau attend the Simon Says Fight MSA benefit at Keep Memory Alive event center Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, in downtown Las Vegas.

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Elizabeth Blau, center, with her Woman of the Year award.

First Friday: March 7, 2014

Cruz Gibson of Las Vegas wears an illuminated mask during First Friday activities about the W. Colorado Ave. and S. Casino Center Blvd. area on Friday, March 07, 2014. Launch slideshow »

Congratulations to five of our French resident chefs in Las Vegas who were inducted into the Global Conference of the Maitres Cuisiniers de France during its 59th annual celebrations at the Venetian for the first time in the U.S.

Our restaurateur Elizabeth Blau (Honey Salt, Simon, Buddy V’s, Stewart +Ogden) was honored and named Dame de L’annee (Woman of the Year) for her nearly three decades of commitment and contribution to the betterment of the culinary experience here in Las Vegas and across the U.S.

Additionally, Joel Robuchon, who has two restaurants at MGM Grand and often is hailed as Chef of the Century, was presented with a lifetime-achievement gold medal award.

FIRST FRIDAY EXPANDS: As of May 2, the downtown arts and cultural food festival First Friday will expand to include a new monthly event at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. “Extra” host Mario Lopez will serve as host, with DJ Avicii providing the music.

Top vegan chef Tal Ronnen will preside over a vegetable feast, with sweets by Raku and chocolates from JinJu. The $200 donation goes to the charity Keep Memory Alive. Larry Ruvo’s Southern Wines & Spirits is underwriting the new involvement with First Friday.

“We want to show we are very much a part of the downtown community, and we hope this expanded effort at KMA will also broaden First Friday’s appeal,” he said.

BIG-GAME HUNTERS: It’s one thing to go out, hunt and shoot big game; it’s another thing to prepare it, cook it and freeze the leftovers. It’s not just a throw it in the crock-pot recipe! Our Nevada Department of Wildlife is coming to the rescue for hunters.

“When it comes to game care, meat processing and cooking, many hunters lack good information” said outdoor education coordinator John McKay. “Many hunters don’t seem to know the basic principles to get their game home in good shape and then do their harvest justice when preparing it. Being afraid to ask questions or listening to the old wives tales out there are not the proper techniques to learn.”

So NDOW has partnered with our Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts to conduct a series of game care and cooking workshops starting March 22 at Cordon Bleu’s Technique Restaurant.

Sushi Samba in London

Sushi Samba in London. Launch slideshow »

TOP OF THE HIGH SPOTS: Our Sushi Samba in Palazzo opened a sister venue in London almost on the roof of the 47-story Heron Tower in the financial district. Owners Matt Johnson, Shimon Bokovza and Danielle Billera opened a new English-influenced restaurant concept, Duck & Waffle, on top of the proven Sushi Samba Japanese, Peruvian and Brazilian fusion-food format.

Both have proved so successful that they have been voted the two best hotspots on that side of the Atlantic. So many diners have been celebrities and VIPs that paparazzi even dubbed it their “No. 1 heaven.”

Spotted in the past two weeks there: Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow, Keira Knightley, Nicole Scherzinger, Cheryl Cole, Hugh Grant, Samuel L. Jackson, Ashton Kutcher, Liam Gallagher and Will Smith. The tables are arranged to provide unobstructed 360-degree panoramas of the city with sunsets over Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf.

BEER PALACE: Yard House has opened at the Linq with 250 varieties of beer on draft, probably more on tap than any other venue, and it’s served with classic rock. This weekend, Brooklyn Bowl, with a bar, 32 lanes of bowling, a nightclub and a concert venue, opens with Elvis Costello and The Roots playing to 2,000 seated guests.

Other bands scheduled as the Linq opens in phases through the end of spring include Jane’s Addiction and Cake. The food at Brooklyn Bowl is from brother chefs Eric and Bruce Bromberg.

County safety officials have insisted on two months of midnight-to-6 a.m. test revolutions of the 550-foot High Roller observation wheel with its 28 40-passenger cabins now lit up nightly with 2,000 LEDs in changing colors and patterns.

JAZZ FESTIVAL: Fourteen of the biggest names in jazz and R&B have been set for our 22nd annual Las Vegas City of Lights festival with Grammy Award winners filling three days of concerts from April 25-27.

A new sound system has been installed at the Government Amphitheater downtown for this spring’s roster of artists: Boney James, Kirk Whalum, Norman Brown, Rick Braun, Everette Harp, Chaka Kahn, Leela James and Eric Roberson. “These artists are the finest collection of acts we have ever had at the 22-year-old festival, and we’ve grown to three days for the first time. ” said promoter Michael Schivo.

In all, there will be 22 hours of music and song. Michael is celebrating 48 years as Nevada’s premiere jazz producer, and he received the annual Nevada Arts Advocacy Award. Tickets are available at YourJazz.com.

2014 AVN/AEE: Phil Varone

Phil Varone of Saigon Kick and Skid Row. Launch slideshow »

PHIL’S SWINGERS: Former Skid Row drummer and VH1’s “Celebrity Sex Rehab” star Phil Varone has his new, uninhibited, everything-goes movie released Tuesday. The Vivid Entertainment DVD, “100% Real Teen Swingers: Atlanta” is an intimate tour of the Georgia city’s most active and engaging teen swingers.

Phil, who plays for Saigon Kick, told me: “They call themselves the Juniper Generation, and they are more unreserved and uninhibited than you would ever imagine. No wonder its dubbed Hotlanta. They were easy to find and join, and we discovered the best of them.””

‘Mondays Dark’ Benefits St. Therese Center/HIV Outreach

Anthony Cools and Mark Shunock perform during Shunock’s “Mondays Dark,” benefiting St. Therese Center/HIV Outreach, at Vinyl on Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, at Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

PLANNING AHEAD: “Rock of Ages” at the Venetian star Mark Shunock is so confident with the success of his monthly “Monday Dark” benefit at the Hard Rock Hotel that he’s going to continue with it through 2015.

He celebrates the first anniversary in the Joint in December for all 12 charities the Strip entertainers have raised money and simultaneously announce the next 12 charity beneficiaries.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Movie producer and director Ivan Reitman (“Animal House,” “Ghostbusters” ) will be given a Lifetime Achievement Award on closing night of CinemaCon on March 27 at the Colosseum in Caesars Palace.

Ivan, hailed as a comedy cinematic legend, has a new release set for April 11: “Draft Day,” which stars Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Sam Elliott, Sean Combs, Denis Leary, Frank Langella and Ellen Burstyn. Convention officials are expecting comedy stars to salute Ivan.

HAIR QUEEN: It’s not every day that you have a Mrs. America beauty queen cut one’s hair, but I landed with gorgeous 2014 Mrs. Nevada Lavetta Schneider at Michael Boychuck’s salon Color salon over the weekend. Lavetta will represent our Silver State at the national pageant this August in Tucson.

2014 Miss Nevada USA Nia Sanchez: Glamour Photos

2014 Miss Nevada USA Nia Sanchez. Launch slideshow »

In other pageant news, I’ve learned that the next Miss USA Nevada contest will move forward from its normal January pageant to an earlier November. Stunning Nia Sanchez, who has completed her glamour photo shoots with photographer Fadil Berisha, will lose a month and a half of her reign. If she wins the Miss USA Pageant in June, she would reign for a year, and her runner-up, 24-year-old Stephanie Cook, who was Miss Spring Valley, would take over for the final five months.

STAR SURVEILLANCE

Singer, actor, comedian and TV personality Nick Cannon met with fans for photos on the outdoor patio of Andrea’s in Encore before his DJ appearance at next-door Surrender.

Former New York Knicks player Metta World Peace dined with friends at N9NE Steakhouse in the Palms.

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Tia Carrere, second from right, and a friend at Blue Man Group on Thursday, March 6, 2014, at Monte Carlo.

Singer-actress Tia Carrere watched Blue Man Group at Monte Carlo.

Jermaine Jackson enjoyed lunch with his wife at America in New York-New York.

UFC fighter Miesha Tate, fighter pal Bryan Caraway and friends watched Jabbawockeez at the Luxor.

TONIGHT’S TIPS

The Mountain West Basketball Championships tip off at the Thomas & Mack Center with 20 games through Saturday for Nevada, UNLV, Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, New Mexico, San Diego State, San Jose State, Utah State and Wyoming.

The West Coast Conference Basketball Championships semifinals for men and women are at Orleans Arena. Go, Zags!

The 3rd Annual Spring Restaurant Week continues through Friday with more than 60 restaurants taking part in specially priced menus.

Smith & Wollensky holds its National Wine Week through Friday with 10 wines for $20, with proceeds going to Keep Memory Alive.

Tom Green continues his new comedy residency at Vinyl in the Hard Rock Hotel.

Tom Rhodes and Sam Fedele headline at Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club at MGM Grand.

TOMORROW’S TEASE

Days before the reimagined and re-engineered “Jubilee!” at Bally’s reopens, director and choreographer Frank Gatson Jr. lets us peek in on the new-look secrets, which he runs through for the first time tonight. Plus, the new Leonardo da Vinci exhibit opens at the Venetian.

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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