Las Vegas Sun

March 20, 2019

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Strip Scribbles: Miss America controversy; ‘Absinthe’; and Food University

Miss America 2009


Miss Americas pose together in front of Neiman Marcus. Top row, from left: Heather French Henry, Ericka Dunlap, Jennifer Berry Gooden and Lauren Nelson. Bottom row, from left: Bebe Shopp, Lee Meriwether, Maria Beale Fletcher, Vonda Van Dyke and Shawntel Smith Wuerich.

2013 Miss America Pageant: The Big Night

The 2013 Miss America Pageant at PH Live in Planet Hollywood on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. Launch slideshow »

2012 Miss USA Pageant: Alyssa Campanella at Gordon Ramsay Steak

2011 Miss USA Alyssa Campanella cooks at Gordon Ramsay Steak in Paris Las Vegas on Friday, May 25, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Human Nature's Final Show at Imperial Palace

Human Nature's final show at Imperial Palace on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Jennifer Lopez at Mandalay Bay Events Center

Jennifer Lopez performs at Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012. Launch slideshow »

2012 AVN Awards: Red Carpet at Hard Rock Hotel

The 2012 AVN Awards red carpet at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Wicked Whispers and Racy Rumors! A controversy over seating at the 2013 Miss America Pageant has reportedly erupted between producers and 2004 Miss America Ericka Dunlap. Ericka told TMZ that she was ordered to exit her seat at the first commercial break to accommodate parents of a contestant who made the Top 15.

Ericka reportedly refused and then said two producers forcibly moved her to another seat. Ericka is demanding an apology and says it would never have happened if she wasn’t black. The organization says it was not their responsibility and that the production crew moved rapidly for program resumption and offered her a better seat, which she refused.

Is an expansion in the works for Henderson Airport to turn it into America’s best showcase for private jet sales?

The webcast currently being filmed by The Gazillionaire of “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace might be used as a sizzle reel for its own reality TV show if the Internet broadcast gets winning reactions from viewers.


The Food Network culinary star Duff Goldman, known as the “Ace of Cakes,” joins with Gordon Ramsay’s Season 10 “Hell’s Kitchen” winner for the three-day Food University courses at Caesars starting March 27. Also on the faculty: Rao’s restaurateur Frank Pellegrino Jr., French pastry prince Francois Payard and the “Godfather of Italian American Cooking” Steve Martorano from The Rio.

Students get nine hands-on cooking classes, three seminars on wine, chocolate and farm food, two field trips to go behind-the-scenes of our Strip’s top restaurants and a mixology seminar. Proceeds from “admissions” benefit our beloved charity Keep Memory Alive. More details:

Chef Mike Minor from Border Grill at Mandalay Bay has been honored as one of the country’s top culinary talents in the debut edition of Best Chefs America, a first-ever, peer-review guide of U.S. kitchen stars. The exquisite 386-page, $75 coffee-table book will be released March 1.

I’ve accepted an invitation to join the judging panel of the upcoming 101 Best Restaurants in America for 2013 from We’ll develop a preliminary list of 303 nominations and narrow that to 202 and then vote the best 101. I will ensure that Las Vegas gets its fair shake in the third-annual directory!

OPENING WEEKEND: Congratulations and best wishes to the four lads from Down Under who make up Human Nature as they premiere at The Venetian with their new residency run. They tell me the show has been transformed from top to bottom, and their mentor Smokey Robinson, who has helped guide their U.S. career, is planning a celebration next month at their showroom.


Jennifer Lopez and Jason Statham will be at their Planet Hollywood movie premiere of “Parker” next Thursday.

Robert De Niro, who is filming the boxing film “Grudge Match” in New Orleans with Sylvester Stallone, jets here in early February for the Nobu Hotel opening at Caesars.

“iCarly” star Jennette McCurdy dined at STK in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas with Cirque du Soleil executives.

Radio talk show host and chef Jamie Gwen is on a research trip of new Strip restaurants while staying at the Cosmopolitan.


Manhattan Transfer and New York Voices are at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

The Wonderground International Magic Festival led by Jeff McBride presents three shows at Olive Mediterranean in Henderson with acts from as far afield as Singapore, Brazil and Great Britain.

DJ Chuckie spins the wheels of steel at Tao’s Worship Party in The Venetian.

Royal jeweler Harry Winston unveils the first official Hope Collection Bracelet at its boutique in Crystals with 100 percent of sales donated to KMA.

Hyde Bellagio launches Vino Thursdays with music from “American Idol finalist Mahi.

Of Mice and Men, Volumes, Texas in July, Woe Is Me and Capture the Crown are at Hard Rock Cafe on The Strip.

Sin City Sinners with Dizzy Reed from Guns N’ Roses performs at the Paradise Visuals AVN party hosted by XXX legend Ron Jeremy at Hard Rock Cafe beside the Hard Rock Hotel.

And Marche Bacchus features a five-course tasting menu by chef David Middleton paired with Silver Oak and Twomey cellars wines. One guest will receive a signed 2007 Magnum of Silver Oaks Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.


Our jam-packed weekly Weekend Celebrity Preview highlights the 2013 AVN Awards at The Joint in the Hard Rock and a first-time solo visit by Kourtney Kardashian to Kardashian Khaos at The Mirage.

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.

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