Photos: Fourth Vegas Uncork’d is best year yet; plans for fifth year get set
Location: Aureole, Las Vegas
Vegas Deluxe - by Robin Leach
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At every turn, the four-day epicurean extravaganza Fourth Annual Vegas Uncork'd was a record-breaking success, so much so that the world's greatest chefs have already marked their schedules for May 5-8 for next year's fifth anniversary of the fabulous food festival.
This year with 76 participating chefs, there were more of them than ever before. There were 30 key events jammed into the round-the-clock festival -- also more than ever before. Additionally, the six resort partners -- Bellagio, Caesars Palace, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Venetian/Palazzo and Wynn/Encore -- were more than any previous year.
Food fanatics traveled from as far away as Japan and Korea to see the greatest gathering of international chef superstars on Earth. The main event was the Grand Tasting at the Garden of the Gods in Caesars Palace last Friday with a huge jump in the record-breaking attendance of more than 2,300 revelers enjoying taste treats from 56 restaurants and more than 100 wineries pouring -- again all new records.
Barbara Fairchild, editor of Bon Appetit, the magazine that sponsored Vegas Uncork'd with our Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Bureau, told me that she's already planning and looking forward to next year.
"I was thrilled with the quality of the events -- and with the turnout. It was our biggest ever, and for me, it's always such a pleasure to talk to the attendees," she said. "I'm excited about our fifth anniversary, and we're already planning how to make it even bigger and more exciting!"
Last year, 1,600 guests took part in the Grand Tasting, and this year it jumped to 2,300, more than double the first one four years ago. It was a who's who of the culinary world that included the fabulous French foursome of Joel Robuchon, Guy Savoy, Pierre Gagnaire and Alain Ducasse, all of whom have restaurants here. Matt Goss, Rick Faugno, Chazz Palminteri, Laura Prepon, Rita Rudner, Miss USA Kristen Dalton, Nathan Burton, George Maloof and Johnny Weir also attended. Other chefs included Bradley Ogden, Bobby Flay, Charlie Palmer, Hubert Keller, Francois Payard, Julian Serrano, Steve Martorano, Akira Back, Luciano Pellegrini, Carla Pellegrino, Rick Moonen, Alex Stratta, Jet Tila, Rene Lenger, Kim Canteenwalla and many more.
Bon Appetit's executive chef Cat Cora gave me the chef's definition of culinary porn! She explained that when a restaurant chef serves up dinner for a couple in love, they can always tell by the way the food is eaten and the mood at the table that it's a successful meal because l'amour is guaranteed to follow.
Chef Joseph Elevado, who worked for eight years with chef Nobu Matsuhisa, told me that he will be opening Social House in late June. Social House left T.I. and is now set for Crystals in MGM's CityCenter. Executive pastry chef Megan Romano of Charlie Palmer's Aureole in Mandalay May autographed the first copy of her new dessert cookbook It's a Sweet Life. Her perfection with incredible creations that finish a fine meal is platinum and practical.
I shot more than a dozen TV interviews with chefs for the syndicated TV show Daytime, and we got in the kitchen with everybody from Wolfgang Puck, Bobby and Paul Bartolotta to Rick and Susan Feniger, and the two Top Chef Masters competitors even did their demos for All the Kitchen's a Stage on a raised platform in Rick's RM Seafood in Mandalay Bay, where Susan was presented with a birthday cake.
Other highlights included the chef's blackjack tournament, which Paul won for the third consecutive year. "Pure luck," he told me. "They wouldn't even allow me to use my little crib card on how to play the game. Now they're sending out my photo to have me barred from playing blackjack anywhere," he laughed. Paul served up a superb fresh Mediterranean seafood luncheon with fellow Wynn and Encore chefs David Walzog, Frederic Robert, Jet and Alex at their all-star luncheon, and I even got a kiss from a really fresh snapper! Chefs Alain Ducasse and Charlie Palmer teamed for a gourmet barbecue at Mandalay Bay Beach, and Charlie threw a follow-up brunch to meet the cast of The Lion King on Sunday.
Read the full story here.