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The Chefs, The Food, The Gossip from Vegas Uncork'd

Wolfgang Puck kicks off Vegas Uncork'd with a saber off. Photo by Chelsea McManus
Wolfgang Puck kicks off Vegas Uncork'd with a saber off. Photo by Chelsea McManus
[Photos: Chelsea McManus and as noted]

Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit kicked off with a Vegas legend and introduced one of the newest chefs to enter the market at the city’s biggest culinary event.

Wolfgang Puck kicked off the event with a celebration of his 20 years in Vegas, when he ushered in an era of celebrity chefs bringing their culinary chops to Sin City. He hosted a luncheon at Spago at the Forum Shops at Caesars, where he joked about his doubts of Spago’s success in Las Vegas.

Then the event officially kicked off with chefs from Bellagio, Caesars Palace, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and Mandalay Bay took part in the saber off, a tradition at Uncork’d where Puck sabered off a bottle of Mionetto Prosecco. Sparkling wine gushed out when Puck accidentally dropped the bottle, and Susan Feniger of Border Grill shared a laugh with Scott Conant of Scarpetta when they were caught in the spray of wine.

Caesars Palace ushered in the first day of events with dinners with heavyweights Guy Savoy, Bobby Flay, François Payard, the Pellegrino family behind the Rao’s brand and Michel Richard serving up the Master Series.

Over to Bellagio, where a new event, Follow That Food Truck, gave guests a chance to nosh on dishes from the food trucks of Vegas. Sin City Wings, Fatt Daddy’s Ice Cream and Bens BBQ food trucks were among the food trucks who rubbed elbows with Julian Serrano, Michael Mina, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Todd English.

Day two brought in José Andrés dishing out tips on how to prepare paella on a wood-fired paella grill, the only one in the United States. The charming Spaniard advised guests to go small with their paella pan to start as he joked around with guests. Over at Mandalay Bay, Border Grill’s Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger and executive chef Michael Minor let the Too Hot Tamales shine, confirming that they are looking for a second location in Vegas.

But Friday night was considered the crowing evening for the event with the Grand Tasting, bringing in a sold-out crowd of 2,600 to the Garden of Gods at Caesars Palace. Gordon Ramsay showcased his beef Wellington and sticky toffee pudding in a replica of the Gordon Ramsay Steak Chunnel at Paris Las Vegas. Raku and Lotus of Siam even made a showing at the event that featured Todd English, Francois Payard, Nobu Matsuhisa, David Myers, Bradley Ogden, Charlie Palmer, Rick Moonen, José Andrés, Guy Savoy and Scott Conant. More than 50 award-winning chefs in all dished out their culinary delights.

Then guests headed over to Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, where instead of a blackjack tournament from years’ past, a poker tournament on the Cosmo’s Boulevard Pool deck. Yes, there was free-flowing Belve and Blue Ribbon fried chicken, but it was the chefs who were in rare form. Even before the night started, José Andrés was already changing the tournament rules to allow for rebuys. The charismatic ambassador of Spanish cuisine also let on that in addition for plans for a food truck at sbe’s forthcoming SLS hotel this summer he hinted, “A food truck for Los Angeles has been discussed with [sbe founder] Sam [Nazarian]? Sam is definitely looking at food truck options in LA.”

Though he did well, Andrés didn’t win the title win the event. That honor went to Scarpetta GM Mario Disi. Notable commendations are in order for restaurant and drinks editor Andrew Knowlton, who was the runner up, a svelte-looking Paul Bartolotta (who has lost 50 pounds by juicing and also won the blackjack tourney in years past), Mary Sue Milliken and Scott Conant who all did well.

The festivities continued at Marquee Nightclub where Bon Appetit commandeered a Grand Cabana on the pool deck for “specially invited guests” to take in Cedric Gervais’ set, but the even more special people headed up to Jose Andrés' suite thereafter for “lots of cava and room service.”

Day three ushered in an afternoon with Jean-Georges Vongerichten and his wife Marja of Kimchi Chronicles hosted a Korean luncheon at JG’s Prime at the Bellagio. When asked if Marja was nervous the first time she cooked for Jean-Georges she replied that she told him, "If you don't like it, I don't want to hear it."

Apparently, herbed mung bean pancakes “are liked latkas” according to Marja (and JG pairs them with smoked salmon and caviar).

Marja makes her own kimchi and “the longer it ferments the better, like a funky cheese! But, it takes too long to make the rest of the Panchan.” “Korean food is the next big food craze,” Jean-Georges said.

Former GQ man and current Editor in Chief at Bon Appetit Adam Rapoport get his kick-ass graphic tees at No Mas NYC and then the conversation turned to Gossip Girl.

At Estiatorio Milos, chef Costas Spiliadis dished out secrets behind selecting the best fish at the local supermarket, while Francois Payard showed off skills and techniques to make any guest feel like a professional pastry maker. Payard told guests, “The best way to test chocolate is with the lips." When everyone laughed he responded, "I'm serious! Because the lips are the most sensitive to temperature." Sure.

Alain Ducasse helmed the Nature of a Good Party at miX at Mandalay Bay. When asked if he planned to serve gummy bears with his dishes, he chuckled at the photo Daniel Boulud tweeted of him noshing on the sugary bites.

What was the highlight at Saturday’s Clambake you ask? Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger’s roasted corn, Charlie Palmer’s grilled octopus or Rick Moonen’s lobster? No, it was OPI’s make shift mani-pedi station on the Mandalay Beach — redic, but kinda amazing. Next up at Afterhours at miX Lounge Hubert Keller played DJ and was surprisingly pretty good and into house.

Yes, there was awesome food, but the best bites were sound and included some new details on Lagos, the former Caesar’s Buffet. The space, which is expected to open later this summer, is being designed by Super Potato, who is responsible for Beijing Noodle No. 9. Expect, lots of wood and marbles and about 200 more seats than what was offered previously (so, 400-plus). The cost is $17 million so they are definitely not messing around.

As far as food goes think small individualized plates and portions from chefs who specialize in that particular cuisine. As far as the event itself, Guy Savoy himself was on hand to greet guests and was dolling out his signature Black Truffle Soup. When asked how he felt about his son Franck working with L’Atelier at the Four Seasons in New York, he laughed and said, “He is not working at L’ Atelier, he is at the Four Seasons.”
David Morris, Kat Odell and Amanda Kludt contributed to this article.
· All Coverage of Vegas Uncork'd [~ELV~]


5030 Spring Mountain Road, , NV 89146 (702) 367-3511 Visit Website

Lotus of Siam

620 East Flamingo Road, , NV 89119 (702) 735-3033 Visit Website

Michael Mina

3600 South Las Vegas Boulevard, , NV 89109 (702) 693-7223 Visit Website

Border Grill

3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV 89119 702-632-7403 Visit Website

Julian Serrano Tapas

3730 South Las Vegas Boulevard, , NV 89109 (702) 590-8520 Visit Website


3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South, , NV 89109 (702) 698-7960 Visit Website


3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV 89109 702-693-8181 Visit Website


3940 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV 89119 702-632-7777 Visit Website

Gordon Ramsay Steak

3655 South Las Vegas Boulevard, , NV 89109 (702) 946-4663 Visit Website