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November 20, 2017

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Vegas Uncork’d at MGM Resorts: All-Star Feast at Aria, Michael Mina, Joel Robuchon and Hakkasan


Glenn Pinkerton / Las Vegas News Bureau

Michael Mina hosts an outdoor barbecue with whole pig and dishes from his restaurant Pub 1842 poolside Friday, May 9, 2014, at MGM Grand.

2014 VUBBA: MGM Resorts Events

Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand on Saturday, May 10, 2014. Launch slideshow »
Click to enlarge photo

Masa Takahama at the All-Star Feast on Saturday, May 10, 2014, in the Buffet at Aria.

All-Star Feast at Aria

Las Vegas is known for its buffets. We probably have the best in the world here on the Strip. It’s been a trademark success story since Day 1 of our desert kingdom downtown.

But there’s never been one like the All-Star Feast the 2014 Vegas Uncork’d chefs produced at Aria on Saturday night. The chef’s counters turned into a gastronomic gala, and the dessert selection was a mind-blowing psychedelic explosion of creative colors from tiny cupcakes to giant wedding cakes.

It made you want to get married on the spot! The rotating wheel of gelatos and sorbets was definitely the icing on those cakes.

Legendary restaurateur Sirio Maccioni was there (literally seated at his buffet station) alongside Michael Mina, Shawn McClain, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Julian Serrano, Masa Takayama, plus chefs from Jean Philippe Maury’s Patisserie, Lemongrass and Blossom.

Michael’s tuna tacos and lobster pot pie and Masa’s toro caviar made this a buffet for the rich and famous. Jean-Georges carved up a platinum card-sized serving of beef tenderloin and pork loin, while Sirio blew the budget on lasagna Bolognese. This was extravagance extreme.

It was such an incredible buffet that shouted the wares of Aria’s top chefs, I told hotel execs that they should do it as a monthly marketing promotion surprise to overwhelm guests. Extraordinary!

Shawn, Jean-Georges, Masa and Jean-Philippe also teamed up for a chic Mother’s Day weekend brunch party. Not only did they prepare the shrimp-and-scallop luncheon, but they also sat down to enjoy it with guests. Sirio watched over his executive chef Paul Lee at Le Cirque in Bellagio prepare a four-course lunch that included mushroom risotto.

In Bellagio’s pool garden, Vegas Uncork’d guests enjoyed a flame-grilled feast under the watchful eye of Sensi chef Roy Ellamar, who used ancient meaty cooking methods of fire, ash and smoke. The tastings included beef and game charred by white oak embers, lamb roasted over pecan logs and farmers market vegetables cooked in ashes of a smoldering fire pit.

Michael told me about his pig roast in a beer garden he’d set up over at MGM Grand pool near his Pub 1842. The 95-pound pig was steeped in brine for 48 hours before being roasted in a buried wooden box, then barbecued and served to Vegas Uncork’d guests with ice cold beer. Michael says he’s excited about his new Free Flow wines on tap that he’s pouring from stainless steel kegs at Pub 1842, and customers are loving the addition and selections.

Also at MGM Grand, Chef of the Century Joel Robuchon hosted not one but three Vegas Uncork’d events. How often could that possibly occur? Another only-in-Las-Vegas moment. First an incredible lunch and then a never-before, once-in-a-lifetime cooking demonstration. That evening, he served a six-course menu of exquisite French dishes including imperial caviar.

At Hakkasan in MGM Grand, Michelin star chef Ho Chee Boon presented a progressive modern Cantonese dinner showing how to properly cook Peking duck. Guests partied afterward in a VIP nightclub skybox. Our thanks to Brian Jones and Glenn Pinkerton of Las Vegas News Bureau and Isaac Brekken of Getty Image for their photo galleries and to Christopher Rauschnot @24kMedia on Twitter for his video posted on YouTube.

Today, we’ll continue our Vegas Uncork’d coverage with star chefs Mario Batali from “The Chew” and “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro at Palazzo, plus my interview with Daniel Boulud during the opening of his DB Brasserie at the Venetian.

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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