Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau
Wednesday, May 9, 2018 | 2 a.m.
Masaharu Morimoto is a world-famous chef and restaurateur best-known as a dominant force on the incredibly intense cooking competition show “Iron Chef.” To say he’s accustomed to the spotlight would be a bit of an understatement.
“I’m never very nervous, if it’s a live show or interview on TV or even singing,” he said last week from inside his Japanese restaurant at the MGM Grand. “I’ve done a demonstration of butchering a big tuna in front of 3,000 people. But this time, for Vegas Uncork’d, I’m doing the saber off and I’m not good. I’ve been practicing. There’s going to be a lot of media plus a lot of famous chefs behind me,” he said with a laugh and a sarcastic faux-scream of anxiousness.
The 12th Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit event weekend is back on the Strip this week and the traditional kickoff has one of many celebrity chefs sabering the top off a bottle of Champagne. Morimoto, who opened his first Las Vegas restaurant in 2016, does the honors this year when one of Las Vegas’ biggest culinary events gets started May 10 at 1 p.m. at The Park, located between Las Vegas Boulevard and T-Mobile Arena.
Attending chefs and special guests at the event, open to the public, include Guy Savoy, Michael Mina, Bryan Voltaggio, Graham Elliot, Julian Serrano, Shawn McClain, Timon Balloo, members of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces with President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Bill Laimbeer, Bon Appétit editor Adam Rapoport, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits General Manager Michael Severino and The Park’s Executive Director Anthony Olheiser.
Morimoto will pop open a magnum of Prosecco courtesy of Southern Glazer’s and while chefs sometimes take a few tries to get it right, there’s a good chance his first cut will get the job done. “A lot of people watch my knife skills and I have a special technique,” he said with a smile.
Vegas Uncork’d runs May 10-13 with dinners, demonstrations, chef meet-and-greets and other events scattered across several Strip resorts with one sold-out event at the Mob Museum. The saber off site will also host Picnic at the Park on May 12, an outdoor feast with live music and special dishes created by an assortment of MGM Resorts chefs, including Morimoto.
The biggest Uncork’d event, of course, is the annual Grand Tasting, set for May 11 at the Garden of the Gods pool at Caesars Palace, where 2,500 guests will sample small plates from more than 50 different chefs and restaurants.
Tickets to many events are still available at vegasuncorked.com.