Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015 | 6:32 p.m.
Culinary personality and Food Network star chef Ben Vaughn is joining forces with Kent and Lance Johns of the historic Atomic Liquors & Bar on Fremont Street to open a downtown Las Vegas restaurant late spring or early summer. Ben’s Southern Kitchen will be located next to Atomic Liquors.
Ben tells me that his restaurant will serve Southern-inspired recipes infusing his Southern heritage into each dish. The menu will feature a variety of farm-to-table options that reflect the rich culture and tastes of authentic Southern cuisine.
“The food at Southern Kitchen will be a direct result of quality ingredients made possible by farmers, artisans and growers who provide products that are sustainably sourced whenever possible,” said Ben. “I want to create a restaurant that not only features amazing tastes, but is also affordable and accessible to everyone.
“It’s important that the experience feel authentic and Southern to the diner. I want them to feel like they’re part of the family.”
Southern Kitchen’s menu will be styled after the traditional “meat and three” restaurants that are roadside staples throughout the South. Ben, chef/owner of several critically acclaimed restaurants in Memphis and Atlanta, hosts the Food Network’s “Health Inspectors.”
Similar to the theme of Southern Kitchen, he is currently writing the book series “Southern Routes,” which explores his Southern roots with an edible journey highlighting 100 of the best-kept food secrets and destination venues in the South. The book by HarperCollins will be released this summer. His next guest column for Vegas DeLuxe will appear this week.
CELEBRITY CAUSE: Canon USA as part of the annual Consumer Electronics Show always sponsors the fundraiser benefiting the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. The 15th annual event is set again this year in the large ballroom of Bellagio.
Among those expected to attend Wednesday night: Alice Cooper, Jill Whelan, John O’Hurley, Roger Clemens, Patrick Warburton and Michael Pena. They also will play golf Thursday at Tournament Players Club for additional fundraising.
25 YEARS: Congratulations to the Rio celebrating its silver anniversary with events throughout January, gift giveaways and yearlong specials. It opened its doors on Jan. 15, 1990. A 25th anniversary Rio Rita bobble head locals giveaway will be distributed Friday, Jan. 15, followed by a $25,000 slot tournament Jan. 17.
Locals receive 25 percent off at casino restaurants and bars for the year with a Total Rewards card. Participating restaurants include Carnival World Buffet, Village Seafood Buffet, Martorano’s, Buzio’s and more, but not Hash House a Go Go. Eighty employees who have been there since opening day will be honored Jan. 14 with an anniversary party, champagne and cake at VooDoo. Rio magician headliners Penn & Teller will host with fellow headliner hunks the Chippendales and a newly crowned Rio Rita.
YEAR OF THE GOAT: A massive 950-pound Chinese dragon made of 300,000 red and amber LED lights measuring 22 feet long and 12 feet high was built at the entrance to the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace this morning to celebrate Chinese New Year and welcome the Year of the Goat.
A legendary creature in Chinese mythology and folklore, the dragon is a traditional symbol of power, strength and good luck. Once fully assembled, the dragon was the center of a dazzling display seated on a lush red carpet and surrounded by hand-painted wood pillars, gold fencing and red velvet ropes. Chinese New Year begins Feb. 19.
MURRAY MAGIC: Turns out for magician Murray Sawchuck, it’s not making his wife, “Fantasy” at the Luxor dancer Chloe Crawford, vanish in a close-up box in his new show at Planet Hollywood’s Sin City Theater that’s grabbing all the attention.
Instead, it’s when Murray goes into the audience at every show, blows up a balloon and manages to get somebody’s smartphone inside it without it bursting. Everybody is scratching heads trying to figure out how he does that one!
Retired NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal and Academy Award-winning actor Adrien Brody attended the Jabbawockeez in the Luxor with gal pals Laticia Rolle and Lara Lieto celebrating her birthday. The group posed for photos and chatted with Jabbawockeez performers backstage after the show. While in town, Adrien dined at N9NE Steakhouse in the Palms.
Comedy king Jerry Seinfeld was at the Improv in Harrah’s working out new material for his April 17 and 18 return to the Colosseum in Caesars Palace.
Canadian electro-pop artist Kiesza dined at Katsuya in SLS Las Vegas before hitting the nearby nightclub Foxtail. She danced at midnight to the sounds of DJ Five and later went onstage to perform her songs “Hideaway” and “Giant in My Heart.” Afterward, she partied at a VIP table with friends until the pre-dawn hours.
Sexy model, actress and TV personality Carmen Electra was at Crazy Horse III Gentlemen’s Club. The former “Baywatch” star Playboy cover girl partied into the early hours. VH1’s “Mob Wives” reality-TV star Renee Graziano partied at CHIII on Sunday night.
Dave Amato, Kevin Krohn, Bruce Hall and Neal Doughty of REO Speedwagon attended “Raiding the Rock Vault” at Tropicana. Dave joined the band onstage for “Jukebox Hero,” “ Highway to Hell” and “Jump.”
MMA hunk Donald Cerrone went behind the wheel of a Ferrari 430 GT speedster at Dream Racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He hit top speeds and then switched seats with an instructor.
DJ Lil Jon spun the wheels of steel for his wife, Nicole Smith, and her gal pals Nicole Murphy (Eddie Murphy’s ex) and Liz Bonds (Barry Bonds’ ex) at Surrender in Steve Wynn’s Encore.
ESPN sportscaster and former Detroit Pistons coach Dick Vitale fueled up at the new Martorano’s Italian in the Paris with eggplant stacks and meatballs before attending nearby “Jersey Boys.”
“Dancing With the Stars” pro-dancer champion Mark Ballas enjoyed meatballs, margarita pizza and pasta with pork ragout at Giada in The Cromwell.
“Cheers” star George Wendt debuts “Re-Animator: The Musical” at the Smith Center through Jan. 18.
Nick Cannon is guest DJ at 1 OAK in the Mirage for the Monster NCredible headphones CES party.
Former NASA rocket scientist turned comedienne Shayla Rivera, Don McMillan and David Gee headline at the Improv in Harrah’s through Sunday.
Our Q+A with the adorable Jackie Evancho, the now-teen singing sensation, as she gets ready for her solo starring show at the Smith Center this month, plus the Las Vegas magician building a magical adventure park in Utah.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.
Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
Inspired by the beautiful villages of Europe, the AAA Five Diamond Bellagio overlooks a Mediterranean-blue, 8 ½-acre lake, where fountains perform a magnificent aquatic ballet choreographed to music and lights.
Within Bellagio are award-winning dining experiences including two AAA Five Diamond restaurants, Julian Serrano's Picasso and Le Cirque from the renowned Maccioni family.
Bellagio is home to an impressive collection of luxury retailers including Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Tiffany & Co., Breguet, Prada, Fred Leighton, Chanel, Dior, Fendi, Bottega Veneta, Hermès and OMEGA.
A world-class art gallery, the exquisite Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, the stunning “O” by Cirque du Soleil, a luxurious spa and salon, dynamic nightlife at The Bank, Hyde Bellagio and Lily Bar & Lounge and an elegant casino all add to the extraordinary Bellagio experience.
Carnival lasts all year at the Rio. With a float occasionally passing overhead and dropping beads while feathered dancers fire up the gamblers below, the Rio tries to keep its 120,000-square foot casino jumping with excitement. Special Brazilian mixed-drinks are also served throughout the casino. The hotel suites tend to be larger than similar priced rooms on the Strip and many offer excellent views with floor to ceiling windows.
The Rio offers some quality shows like "Penn & Teller" and "Chippendales." Many come to the Rio for the nightlife at the VooDoo Lounge, located on the 51st floor, or McFadden's Irish Pub on the casino level.
Others come for a bit relaxation at the Rio Spa or pool area and still others come to shop at the hotel's 60,000 square feet of shops. In each of these endeavors, the Rio attempts to make the experience a bit more fun and spontaneous.
The Rio also offers guests a variety of dining choices from all-American food at the All-American Bar & Grille to Gaylord India Restaurant for something a little spicier and even Carnival World Buffet for the indecisive.