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March 20, 2018

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Kerry Simon, Giada and Buddy Valastro win Silver State Awards


Steve Marcus

Celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis waves from the red carpet as she arrives during the VIP grand opening of Giada, the first Giada De Laurentiis restaurant, on Monday, June 2, 2014, in the Cromwell.

Simon Says Fight MSA Benefit

Kerry Simon, second from left, and Bill Murray, right attend the Simon Says Fight MSA benefit at Keep Memory Alive event center Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, in downtown Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

Giada VIP Grand Opening at Cromwell

Celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis waves from the red carpet as she arrives during the VIP grand opening of Giada, the first Giada De Laurentiis restaurant, on Monday, June 2, 2014, in the Cromwell. Launch slideshow »

Carlo’s Bakery Opens at Venetian/Palazzo

Carlo's Bakery by celebrity chef Buddy Valastro opens in the Grand Canal Shoppes on Monday, March 31, 2014, in the Venetian/Palazzo in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

Hot off the grill!

Wheelchair-bound “Iron Chef” winner Kerry Simon received a little respite in his brutal and debilitating battle against the brain disorder Multiple System Atrophy when he won Best Chef at the fourth Silver State Culinary Awards on Tuesday night.

With more than 13,000 of his culinary colleagues voting, Kerry won in the category that included Nobu Matsuhisa, Julian Serrano, Rick Moonen and Pierre Gagnaire.

Kerry was unable to attend the Epicurean Charitable Foundation fundraiser at Springs Preserve honoring excellence and superior achievements.

Facing increasing difficulty speaking and swallowing, Kerry managed a “thank you” on video, and I accepted the award on his behalf urging his colleagues to keep him in their thoughts and prayers in the horrifying fight for life he’s facing.

I joined with Las Vegas journalists Nina Radetich and Dayna Roselli to announce the winners, with two stunning new “Jubilee” showgirl dancers making the presentations.

The evening’s other winners: Giada de Laurentiis for her Cromwell restaurant Giada for Best New Fine Dining; Wolfgang Puck’s Spago at the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace for Best Casual Dining Restaurant; Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico Steakhouse at the Venetian for Best Restaurant Wines & Spirits; and Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro for his Buddy V’s Ristorante at the Palazzo for Best Sunday Brunch.

Also: Guy Fieri for his Vegas Kitchen & Bar at the Quad for Best New Restaurant Casual Dining; Hakkasan at MGM Grand for Best Interior Design Restaurant; Le Cirque at Bellagio for Best Service; Vic & Anthony’s at the Golden Nugget for Best Steakhouse; Pizza Rock for Best Pizza; and Picasso at Bellagio for Best Restaurant Fine Dining.

Restaurateur of the Year was won by Tom Kaplan of Wolfgang Puck’s Fine Dining Group, beating out Emeril Lagasse, Michael Mina, Guy Savoy and Thomas Keller.

Restaurateur Elizabeth Blau won Best Neighborhood Restaurant for Honey Salt and also was honored with a Humanitarian Award for her work with Kerry Simon’s Fight MSA Charity and spearheading the fundraisers for severely brain-injured food critic Max Jacobson. I accepted on her behalf as she flew to New York for this week’s opening — after three-plus years of work — of her new-look Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center.

Sebastien Silvestri, VP of food and beverage at the Venetian/Palazzo, received the Leadership Award. I was humbled to be honored with a Humanitarian Award for my contributions to Keep Memory Alive and Opportunity Village.

The next Silver State Awards are for dayclubs and nightclubs on Nov. 25 with proceeds benefiting the American Red Cross.

CHEFS TO THE MAX: Despite Kerry’s own atrocious illness, he’s still supporting others with medical challenges. This Sunday, he’s OK’d a mini dine-around at his new restaurant Carson Kitchen downtown overseen by executive chef Matt Andrews for a collaboration of neighborhood off-Strip chefs.

All the proceeds will go toward the medical and care bills for Max’s recovery from critical injuries he sustained last December when a driver running a red light mowed him down in a crosswalk.

Chefs involved include Luciano Pellegrini and Jose Aleman from Marche Bacchus, Vic Vegas of Vic’s Cafe, Ming See Woo of Fu at the Hard Rock Hotel, Paloma Cuellar of La Comida, Dalton Wilson from DW Bistro and Chris Palmieri of Naked City Pizza.

COOKIES, DINNER & DESSERT: It’s a case of Dessert Before Dinner when Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada have their annual dinner at Caesars Palace on Saturday. Mirage headliner Terry Fator is the featured entertainment as seven female leaders are honored for their work in the Las Vegas community.

I’ll handle the live-auction MC duties. The auction includes a luncheon date with celebrated chef Giada at her Cromwell restaurant, so expect the bidding to be fast and furious.

Nine female dessert chefs from various hotels and restaurants will compete before dinner with a Girl Scout cookie challenge. They are Jeanette Droegmoeller (Bellagio), Allessandra Madeira (Bratalian), Marisela Espinosa (Caesars Palace), Vivian Chang (Downtown Grand), Marie Young (Giada), Tamira White (Hard Rock Hotel), Kimberly Vitou (MGM Grand), Cynthia Werth (Stratosphere) and Brittany Givero (Three Square).

Terry and I will be the judges as the ladies compete to create a unique and delicious dessert from Girl Scout shortbread. The kitchen queens have had two months to incorporate shortbread into their dessert, so I’m expecting masterpiece creations even though it’s not Thin Mint. I just hope that I don’t fill up before the dinner!

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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