Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 | 6 p.m.
Las Vegas will trade foie gras and tartare for ground beef and beans next month as the World Food Championships bring state fair food to the Strip.
The cookoff will bring together 400 competitors, who've won culinary titles across the country, for a weekend throwdown Nov. 1 to 4 at Bally's Las Vegas. The cooks will fire up smokers, grills and portable cook tops in a series of competitions that will offer free tastings and demonstrations to the public.
"Do we really want another foie gras, veal cheek, hamachi crudo kind of event with us meandering about a luxurious pool?" asked Jeffrey Frederick, vice president of food and beverage for Bally's, Paris and Planet Hollywood. "This will be more approachable and accessible, and I think the every day man and woman are really going to get enthusiastic and excited about this event."
The World Food Championships will have four VIP parties, including an opening night benefit for the Ruvo Center and another for UNLV's hospitality program. Tickets cost from $125 to $300 for a single event and $550 to $750 for a weekend pass.
Adam Richman, of the Travel Channel's "Man vs. Food" TV show, will host. He's no stranger to food competitions.
"There is – I kid you not – a petroleum and roadkill festival and a moon pie festival," Richman said. "Then you start getting into the major leagues, where you have the real big barbecue competitions, the build-a-better burger competitions, the barbecue competitions, the recipe competitions."
"This is for people who take their craft seriously, but don't take themselves seriously," he added.
The weekend culminates with seven winners from different food categories meeting for a "Final Table" to crown an ultimate champion.
Organizers hope to expand the championships to include up to 30 categories over a 10-day span in coming years. Plans already are underway for Kraft, a co-sponsor of the event, to market winning recipes to restaurants across the country.
"It is possible...that you could be sitting in a restaurant in Buffalo, N.Y., eating a burger that someone created here for this competition in Las Vegas," said Mike McCloud, of organizer Trybe Targeting. "We really want to make this the PBR or the SEMA for food."