Erik Kabik / Retna / ErikKabik.com
Monday, May 12, 2014 | 11:02 p.m.
2014 VUBBA Grand Tasting at Caesars
It’s not called America’s top culinary event of the year for no reason. It brings together many of the world’s best chefs in the best of circumstances: an incredible camaraderie without competition, a beautiful setting around Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis at Caesars Palace and the ultimate display of a staggering variety of their signature dishes.
With perfect evening desert temperatures Friday night, it was the ultimate topper of this year’s four-day Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit food-and-wine festival. About 2,500 guests brushed shoulders with more than 60 kitchen kings and queens cooking and serving delectable dishes and with more than 40 winemakers pouring their libations.
On the red carpet, the chefs gave cheers and applause to heroic Kerry Simon, who arrived on a motorized wheelchair battling Multiple System Atrophy. His Kerry’s Gourmet Burger from Harrah’s had a booth for his signature sample dishes at what has now become one of the largest Vegas Uncork’d events to date.
Glamorous Giada De Laurentiis made her debut at the five-acre swimming oasis with its eight pools and gardens and was joined by Border Grill star chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, who are opening a new branch in the Forum Shops of Caesars Palace this summer.
The list of star chefs was literally endless: Gordon Ramsay representing his three restaurants here on the Strip along with “Hell’s Kitchen” winner Christina Wilson, Buddy Valastro, Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud, Guy Savoy, Nobu Matsuhisa, Joel Robuchon, Claude Le-Tohic and Steve Benjamin, Michael Mina, Thomas Keller, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Sirio Maccioni, Julian Serrano, Shawn McClain, Hubert Keller, Alain Ducasse, Francois Payard, Pierre Gagnaire, Eric Klein and the Wolfgang Puck Spago team, Todd English, Frankie Pellegrino Jr., Greg and Marc Sherry from Old Homestead and many others from other Strip hotels, plus Lady Hakkasan in her red-and-gold designer gown.
“Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto, set to open at the Mirage early next year, in chef shorts had lines of fans for his Japanese fish tacos and in between serving them gave demos on how to cut and slice the fish he’d flown over from Asia. Radiant TV star Giada also had lines of fans for her taste treats. The same-day announced Mr. Chow taking over Empress Court at Caesars early next year also managed to have a quickly created booth.
Chefs and VIPs got to unwind after the three-hour food frenzy with an official afterparty of champagne cocktails at the new Fizz ultra lounge at Caesars that Sir Elton John and partner David Furnish decorated with their art collection.
Our thanks to Erik Kabik of Retna for his photo gallery and to Richard Corey for his video posted on YouTube.
I’m told that our Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has two years remaining on its contract with Bon Appetit as the title sponsor of Vegas Uncork’d.
Hotel and wine company executives, chefs and restaurateurs who pick up the majority of costs associated with the functions and travel expenses are hoping that the large income generated from ticket sales and advertising can be donated in the future to Las Vegas charities.
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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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.