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Everything You Missed at UNLVino, Including a Morimoto Serenade

Chef Masaharu Morimoto sings while Larry Ruvo and Michael Severino look on at UNLV Sake Fever.
Chef Masaharu Morimoto sings while Larry Ruvo and Michael Severino look on at UNLV Sake Fever.

[Photos: Tom Donoghue/Tom Donoghue Photography]

The event may have been called UNLVino, but it might as well have been dubbed Morimoto since the chef was the big talk of the weekend. Masaharu Morimoto was expected to announce his new restaurant opening at the Mirage while at the four-day beverage bacchanalia. He didn't. But that didn't stop the chef from providing the highlight of the weekend and making a surprise stop at the new mixology-focused BAR-b-q. Based on the bevy of Morimoto and MGM Resorts executives on hand, an announcement is imminent though. Here now, things you may have missed at UNLVino.

1. Let's just let Morimoto say this in his own words: "Thank you very much, Las Vegas is my dream city. I am very honored by this event — when I came to the United States in 1985, I would have never imagined a Sake Festival, and now here are thousands of people at Sake Fever!" Then he went on to surprise the audience by continuing with, "I have been in this country for 30-something years, and yes, I still I have a language problem — but I can sing!" Morimoto then belted out a traditional Japanese song. Divine.

2. Thomas Keller landed one of four Dom Pérignon Awards of Excellence during Bubble-Licious, the champagne-forward event at the Venetian. He even personally handed out samples of Pate de Campagne with pickled garden vegetables from Bouchon along with cookies from Bouchon Bakery.

3. The party kicked off with a 21 Cork Salute, where 21 sommeliers from UNLV and Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada simultaneously popped corks off 21 bottles of Dom Pérignon champagne.

4. Some of the highlights from Bubble-Licious included the carpaccio of scallops created by executive chef Olivier Dubreuil at the Venetian and Palazzo and Postrio Bar & Grill's Bavarian bratwurst.

5. Karabo Taiko drums played during Sake Fever on Friday, and Morimoto even tried to play the drums.

6. Perhaps the only thing that could out-wow Morimoto at Sake Fever was the 250-pound tuna Naked Fish brought to slice up sashimi. The lines here were amazingly long.

7. Sake Fever even featured a sake barrel ceremony to ward off bad spirits. Morimoto was among the people who helped smash open the traditionally decorated barrel of sake and pour it out to guests.

8. Honey Salt's Elizabeth Blau brought along her husband chef Kim Canteenwalla and parents Lynn and Jeffrey Blau when she received her Dom Pérignon Award of Excellence at the Grand Tasting.

9. Parking for the Grand Tasting at Paris Las Vegas was atrocious. Many guests ended up parking at the Bellagio and walking over to Paris.

10. Morimoto made a surprise stop at the newest UNLVino event, the mixology-focused BAR-b-q, wearing an orange running jacket.

11. Scott Conant of Scarpetta and D.O.C.G. Enoteca at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas says he's been spending a lot of time in Vegas lately, shooting a cover for Departures magazine and more.

12. Herb Wilson of SushiSamba at the Shoppes at the Palazzo says he's back to running after back problems sidelined him in December. Expect a "huge announcement" from him soon.
· All Coverage of UNLVino [~ELV~]


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