Steve Spatafore / Las Vegas News Bureau
Friday, May 9, 2014 | 5 p.m.
The world’s best chefs kicked off the first day of the eighth-annual Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit food-and-wine festival with a nonstop parade of culinary genius at the Venetian all to coincide with the opening of kitchen king Daniel Boulud’s new DB Brasserie there.
It began before noon, as we reported Thursday, with Daniel using his own saber to chop off the cork of the Mionetto prosecco. It continued with Daniel’s official restaurant opening at the cocktail hour and a cross-cultural The Night Market: East Meets West and ended with TV star chef Mario Batali’s Beer & Burgers afterparty.
Yes, 12 hours of incredible wines and taste treats — fabulous food, fun and entertainment. Vegas Uncork’d chefs from other hotels arrived in their own open-air, double-decker party bus.
We’ll have full coverage early next week of the Master Chef dinners at Caesars Palace and Aria with Nobu Matsuhisa, Gordon Ramsay, Guy Savoy, Greg Sherry’s Old Homestead, Giada De Laurentiis teamed with Bobby Flay and Pierre Gagnaire teamed with Shawn McClain.
Several Wicked Whispers & Racy Rumors arose from my quick meets Thursday:
* Giada told me that she has set a firm June 3 opening date for her restaurant Giada at the Cromwell now that construction issues have been resolved, and reservations start at 7:30 p.m. that night. She joked: “Time for me to jump in this all-male pool of chefs on the Strip. I need to give Bobby a run for his money after 10 years.”
* Gordon told me that he will announce this weekend that his fourth Las Vegas dining venture will be a London fish-and-chips outlet. He was mum about our British fish being wrapped in the scandalous Sunday sex tabloids.
* Nobu told me that he’s opening a hotel and restaurants in Kula Lumpur and Manila before year’s end and is taking over part of the Eden Roc hotel in Miami to transform it into another Nobu.
* Mario told me that he’s set a target of 15 Eataly food stores in America and Latin America, with the next to open in Brazil and Mexico City. He says when those 15 are up-and-running, he wants to do one here.
Next week, our interviews with Daniel and Nobu to round out our VUBBA coverage.
Our thanks to contributing photographer Tom Donoghue for his gallery of the Asian Night Market and the Chase Sapphire Grill Challenge with two Cordon Bleu College students vying for a $20,000 scholarship under the mentorship of “Cake Boss” hero Buddy and “The Chew’s” Mario. Also to Bryan Steffy of WireImage and Steve Spatafore for their photo galleries and Richard Corey for his YouTube video of all the chefs, the cast of “Panda!” at Palazzo and Mario’s fun surprise interview with Daniel.
The Night Market: East Meets Wests at Venetian
“It’s the biggest international celebration for Vegas Uncork’d,” Sebastian Silvestri, Venetian-Palazzo VP of food and beverage told me. “Nobody has ever attempted this on the Strip or in Las Vegas ever before. We have the culinary superstars from Asia going head-to-head against their American counterparts. That’s truly international superstar firepower.”
Chefs Justin Quek and Tetsuya Wakuda from Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and Luke Mangan, Australia’s leading chef and restaurateur, battled Mario, Daniel, Buddy and Thomas Keller in creating the outdoor market. Food fans marveled at the exquisite menus, spectacular dishes and entertainment by “Panda!” Tetsuya’s creamy sea urchin topped with caviar could be the best taste treat of the four-day, 50-plus Bon Appetit events!
I dined with Tetsuya at his restaurant in Sydney, Australia, when he broke into the world’s Top 10. I asked him since he had opened a spinoff at the Venetian’s sister Sands hotel in Singapore if he’d thought about expanding here. “We have talked,” he admitted. “We continue to talk.”
But it was Brooke Worley who stole the show with her looks, cooking skills and $20,000 Las Vegas Cordon Bleu win under Mario’s tutelage. “She’s destined for future television stardom,” predicted Mario when I talked with him afterward. “She’s got it all.”
This is the first you’ve heard of Brooke, but you will be hearing a lot more in the future. Meet America’s next culinary star. Buddy added: “The standard of cooking from both students was so high it was literally a tie, but Brooke aced it with her presentation and kitchen personality.”
Daniel not only celebrated the opening of his DB Brasserie at the Venetian, but also the birth of his son Julien born Sunday at midnight in New York. Southern Wines head honcho Larry Ruvo presented the proud poppa with a special bottle of fine “Chateau Julien” wine from France and a Jeroboam of champagne to pour for his 200-plus guests.
Venetian-Palazzo chief Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, helped Daniel with the ribbon cutting, and Buddy waltzed in with a specially made cake complete with Las Vegas showgirls as security escorts.
Among the chefs who attended to congratulate Daniel: Chef of the Century Joel Robuchon, Nobu, “Chow Masters” star Sam DeMarco, Thomas, Jean-Georges Vongerichten en route to open a noodle venture in Shanghai next week and the Sands Marina Bay team from Singapore.
“I am so happy to be back in Las Vegas,” Daniel told me. “What an incredible week. My new son is born, and my new restaurant is opened. I couldn’t bring him here four days later, but I’ll keep his bottle of wine until he’s ready for it when he’s older.”
Our VUBBA coverage, including the full interview with Daniel, continues Sunday and next week.
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.
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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.