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October 17, 2017

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Strip Scribbles: ‘Top Chef Duels,’ ‘Ink Master,’ ‘Dating Naked’ and plans for Pure at Caesars


Leila Navidi

Chef Shirley Chung.

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Las Vegas chef Shirley Chung, left, with Nina Compton and Nicholas Elmi, has made the finals of Season 11 of “Top Chef” in New Orleans. The last challenges are on Maui.

Chef Shirley Chung in South Korea

Chef Shirley Chung made a trip to South Korea after competing on Season 11 of “Top Chef” in New Orleans. Launch slideshow »

It’s a TV battle of another kind when the kitchen heat gets turned up on Bravo’s new culinary competition series “Top Chef Duels” premiering tonight with Las Vegas star chefs Wolfgang Puck and Daniel Boulud and pop princess Pink as judges and former Cosmopolitan chef Shirley Chung as a contestant. Bravo is bringing back the best culinary talent ever seen on “Top Chef” and “Top Chef Masters” for a gastronomic battle royale of epic proportions.

Celebrity chef Curtis Stone is host as 18 of the biggest, boldest and most-talked-about cooking personalities from past seasons are pitted against one another in high-stakes kitchen challenges designed to test their passion and imagination. Curtis also anchors the judges table with Gail Simmons, Hugh Acheson, Wolf and guests including Pink.

Shirley will go up against Brooke Williamson, who was “Top Chef” Seattle Season 10 runner-up. They debut Aug. 13 with Pink as one of their celebrity judges. In each episode, two chefs face off in three rounds of head-to-head battles testing their skills, creativity and speed. Rivalries will be intensified as “Top Chef Duels” allows competing chefs to each pick one mini-duel based on the other’s perceived weaknesses in the kitchen. The third and final challenge of each episode will decide who moves on to compete in the season finale, where 10 chefs will be confronted with split-second decisions.

In the end, one chef will earn bragging rights and win the $100,000 grand prize and a culinary adventure that will be featured in Food and Wine Magazine.

In a continuation of the competition, Bravo will produce a companion digital video series with “The Knockout,” which gives eliminated chefs a chance to claim a spot in the “Top Chef Duels” finale on-air. Hosted by Wolf, each week the most recently eliminated chef from the series will compete against the incumbent “Knockout” champion.

Shirley, who narrowly lost out on the final Hawaii location segment of the most recent “Top Chef,” is set to open her first restaurant this month in Orange County, which she’s named Twenty Eight. Shirley has worked for Jose Andres, Thomas Keller, Guy Savoy and Mario Batali.

Season 4 of ‘Ink Master’

Walter “Sausage” Frank of Las Vegas competes on Season 4 of “Ink Master” on Spike. Launch slideshow »

MORE TV: Another Las Vegas tattoo artist — our third — has signed on for the new Season 5 of Spike TV’s “Ink Master.” Clean Rock One is the owner artist with 19 years of experience at his Chrome Gypsy Tattoo parlor here.

He’s one of 18 contestants in the new season that premieres Sept. 2 with Dave Navarro as host and judge with artists Chris Nunez and Oliver Peck. The show pits Clean Rock One against his archrival Tim Lees, now in San Diego, who says that he was booted from the Las Vegas shop after helping build and open it.

EVEN MORE TV: VH1’s controversial reality-TV series “Dating Naked” — yes, the guys and gals shed all their clothes — features Las Vegas cocktail server Camille Straughan on Thursday’s episode. Camille, who models with the Suicide Girls website, signed on to the push-the-envelope dating show because her own intense relationship had just ended.

The one-hour weekly series says the nudity pairings on a remote island adventure have brought about a 60 percent success rate of romances, with one couple even deciding on the Aug. 21 episode to get married in a Sept. 18 nude ceremony. Love is obviously easier when there’s nothing to hide!


2014 AVN/AEE: Jesse Jane Hosts at Pure

Jesse Jane hosts the 2014 AVN Awards after-party Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, at Pure in Caesars Palace. Launch slideshow »

It’s now definite that the makeover of the shuttered Pure at Caesars Palace will result in a larger playground when it reopens this fall. Insiders whisper that it will expand into the now-closed Munchbar and eventually into the adjoining poker palace. Apparently the Pure name also will be dropped in favor of a new one to reflect the total change from the “good ol’ days.”

Spanish kitchen king Ferran Adria, who was head chef at the acclaimed El Bulli on Costa Brava, is headed to Las Vegas. He was ranked one of the world’s best chefs with his revolutionary deconstruction creations. Ferran has been booked for a private charity dinner party here in September, but details are wrapped in secrecy — so far.

Las Vegas boxer and MMA athlete Ana Julaton, who held her media day gym workouts today, has been told that when she fights Malaysia’s Ann Osman at the Aug. 29 One FC battle in Dubai, she will have to cover her arms and legs inside the Octagon out of respect to her challenger’s Muslim faith.

Sad to hear that “Pawn Shop Live! at the Riviera closes Aug. 21.

Melody Sweets’ Video Release at ‘Absinthe’

Rope-trick artist Chris McDaniel performs in Melody Sweets’ video-release party for the music video Launch slideshow »

JOKESTER WANTED: So you think you’ve got jokes? Now through Aug. 14, the outlandish producer of “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace challenges fans to put their comedy to the test in celebration of National Tell a Joke Day on Saturday, Aug. 16.

Fans are invited to enter the So You Think You’re Funnier Than the Gazillionaire social media contest where one winner will receive tickets to attend “Absinthe” and a pre-show meet-and-greet with The Gazillionaire and Penny Pibbets and enjoy the selected joke incorporated into the performances. Fan’s PG-13 submissions must be shared by posting to “Absinthe’s” official Facebook wall or by tweeting @AbsintheVegas.

HALLOWEEN ALREADY? We are celebrating summer, but horror kingpin Jason Egan has plans underway for six new haunted houses and scare zones at his Fright Dome this October, and he’s hiring 400 people for positions in the horrifying business. Auditions begin Aug. 16 at Circus Circus.


Comedian Chris Tucker and MMA cut man Stitch attended Russell Peters’ comedy show at Pearl at the Palms.

Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. was in a VIP suite at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel for the Legends of Hip Hop with DMX, Naughty by Nature and Big Daddy Kane.

Composers Showcase at Cabaret Jazz

Keith Thompson, musical director for Launch slideshow »


Keith Thompson, conductor of “Jersey Boys” at Paris Las Vegas, hosts the Composers Showcase at Cabaret Jazz in the Smith Center.

Disclosure plays Brooklyn Bowl at the Linq Promenade.

Hip-hop producer DJ Mustard spins at Surrender in Steve Wynn’s Encore.


Our guests columnists are downtown D Las Vegas owner Derek Stevens and headliner variety entertainer Frankie Scinta. Plus, Spike TV’s new series “Hungry Investors” with Jon Taffer, Tiffany Derry and John Besh at two Las Vegas diners to see which one is a diamond in the rough worth bankrolling to help end their struggles.

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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