Thursday, May 8, 2014 | 2 a.m.
With the 2014 Vegas Uncork’d food-and-wine festival about to unleash four days of culinary firepower, this year’s eight-annual event adds more celebrity chefs, events, participating hotels and guests from across the globe.
In all, 70 of the world’s best chefs, 20 of the most talented master sommeliers and 50 culinary temptations and delights start today and continue through Sunday. “My idea of a perfect weekend,” said Adam Rapoport, editor in chief of Bon Appetit, sponsor of one of America’s leading culinary festivals.
How often does an opportunity arise to take part in a joint Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay dining experience? Will Pope of the Palate and Chef of the Century Joel Robuchon ever give a cooking demonstration again?
Can you believe standing shoulder-to-shoulder with “Cake Boss” star Buddy Valastro to get his baking tips and secrets? Imagine Mario Batali inviting you to play gastronomic golf and then tackle a beef tasting at his Carnevino in Palazzo.
And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg (lettuce)! There’s a luncheon with Thomas Keller; dinners with Nobu Matsuhisa, Gordon Ramsay and Francois Payard; a pig roast with Michael Mina; and Masters Dinners with Frank Pellegrino’s family at Rao’s in Caesars Palace and Pierre Gagnaire at Twist in Mandarin Oriental. Guy Savoy’s masterpiece at his restaurant in Caesars Palace is only for six of the most exclusive guests at his Krug Chef’s Table.
All the heavyweight action is focused at the Venetian and Palazzo today with the culinary extravaganza kickoff led by French restaurant royal Daniel Boulud tied into the official grand opening of his DB Brasserie at the Venetian. Venetian and Palazzo colleagues Buddy, Thomas, Justin Quek, Tetsuya Wakuda, Olivier Dubreuil and Kim Canteenwalla join him to saber Mionetto prosecco.
Cheering them on will be Aria culinary kingpins Sirio Maccioni, Julian Serrano and Shawn McClain, Bellagio food stars Edmund Wong and Royden Ellamar, MGM’s Claude Le Tohic and Steve Benjamin and Hakkasan’s Ho Chee Boon.
Then later at night in a cross-cultural culinary exchange, a team of acclaimed chefs from Japan, China, Singapore and Australia join with the Venetian and Palazzo luminaries Mario Batali, Daniel, Thomas and Buddy to create the East Meets West Night Market, an Asian-inspired outdoor F&B party.
Two of Singapore’s culinary superstars, Justin Quek of Sky On 57 and Tetsuya Wakuda of Waku Ghin, both of Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, and Luke Mangan, one of Australia’s leading chefs and restaurateurs, present the three-hour event. They promise an exquisite menu including dim sum, Peking duck, sea urchin and wok-fried Maine lobster.
“This is going to be the finest event of the year and the biggest international celebration for Vegas Uncork’d,” said Sebastien Silvestri, vice president of food and beverage at the Venetian at Palazzo. Additionally, guests will be entertained by the stars of “Panda!,” the first resident production from China on the Strip, with scenes from their show at Palazzo.
The evening also features Mario and Buddy as the headlining mentors to two students from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in the Chase Sapphire Preferred Grill Challenge as they vie for $20,000 in scholarships during the Night Market. This extravaganza doesn’t end the festivities for the first night: Mario will host a Burgers and Beers afterparty at his restaurant B&B at the Venetian.
Highlights on Friday’s second day include Nobu’s sake tasting and sushi roll lessons and the Grand Tasting with more than 2,500 guests expected at the Garden of the Gods Pool at Caesars. Dozens of restaurants and vineyard booths will be set up to serve delicious delicacies.
Heroic chef Kerry Simon, who is battling MSA, is determined to make a wheelchair appearance on the red carpet alongside Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger and other food world stars. The afterparty for that gala is set for Sir Elton John and David Furnish’s Fizz champagne ultra lounge at Caesars.
On Saturday, Mario welcomes guests to his debut golf classic at the Cascata course. Even if you don’t know a 9-iron from a putting green, there will be walk-around taste treats and drinks served from his Las Vegas restaurants, along with wine pairings and a silent auction.
Back on the Strip, other highlights include a guys vs. gals sommelier feud, an all-star chefs feast at Aria’s buffet, a cocktail extravaganza at Bellagio, a multicourse dinner at Hakkasan and Joel Robuchon’s cooking demo and 16-course dinner.
On Sunday, the Pellegrino family will host a Mother’s Day brunch at Rao’s. I’ve only begun to hint at the highlights. For the full listing of hour-by-hour, day-by-day events, please go to VegasUncorked.com.
It’s the weekend that Las Vegas proves to the world that we are not just the Entertainment Capital of the World but also the globe’s ultimate food and fine dining destination.
Cathy Tull of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority summed it up best: “Our city continues to redefine the essence of epicurean excellence with the most comprehensive collection of distinguished chefs’ celebrated restaurants and master sommeliers in the world.
“This year we are thrilled to welcome additional resorts, chefs and one-of-a-kind experiences to Vegas Uncork’d providing our guests with unparalleled access to legendary chefs and sommeliers in truly intimate settings while showcasing Las Vegas as the culinary mecca it has become.”
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.
Transport yourself to the opulent and excessive Roman Empire at Caesars Palace. But the ever-changing Caesars Palace is far from ancient. The hotel and casino is constantly raising the bar for what visitors can expect in a Vegas resort experience.
Caesars Palace features 3,348 rooms and suites in five towers, including the new luxury boutique Nobu Hotel and Restaurant, which opened Feb. 4, 2013, in the totally remodeled Centurian Tower. Caesars features 129,000 square feet of gaming space, including the Strip’s largest poker room and a 250-seat sports book. Other amenities include about two dozen restaurants, a four-level shopping mall, four pools, a spa, Pure and Poetry nightclubs and Pussycat Dolls.
Dining options include restaurants from world-renown chefs Guy Savoy, Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay and, on Feb. 4, 2013, Nobu Matsuhisa.
You never know what characters you’ll run into at Caesars with regular performers like Jerry Seinfeld, Bette Midler, Elton John and maybe even the emperor himself.
In the spirit of Venice, The Venetian is a little piece of romantic Italy right here in Las Vegas. The Venetian is an "all-suite" hotel, with rooms accented with plush linens and Italian marble. The 4,027 suites are divided into two towers: The 36-story Venetian Tower that offers guests a taste of luxurious Las Vegas and the Venezia suites, which guarantee 12 floors of high-end elegance. The top five floors are the hotel's highest level of luxury with its private access, concierge lounge, upgraded features and even a dedicated staff.
The flagship of Venetian nightlife is TAO, an ultra-hip nightclub located inside of TAO Asian Bistro. V Bar is The Venetian's super smooth ultra lounge, made by the owners of New York City's club Lotus and Los Angeles' super swank Sunset Room.
The Venetian features 19 restaurants including Thomas Keller's award-winning French restaurant Bouchon, Mario Batali's B&B Ristorante, Aquaknox for fresh seafood and the 42,000 square foot TAO Asian Bistro. There's also the food court inside the Canal Shoppes for those looking for a quick bite.
Guests can float along The Grand Canal Shops in an authentic Italian gondola ride and pass stores like Burberry and Kenneth Cole along the way. And if you haven't caught a real celeb, on the street in Vegas, you can head over to Madame Tussauds to check out a wax version.