Guitars & Grills photos: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic; all others: Amelinda B Lee]
It lasted three days, featured 70,000 square feet of grassy space, and took 25,600 man hours to build out Life Is Beautiful, the food and music festival that took over 15 city blocks in Downtown Las Vegas over the weekend. Festival attendees and staff walked between 30 and 35 miles during the event, and one couple was brave enough to propose and accept during The Flaming Lips' performance of "Do You Realize?" With 3,701 rubber ducks floating in the pool of the City Motel and 550 pounds of confetti showered on the crowd, the festival wrapped up with 90,000 guests attending. Here, a look at some of the best memories from the event.
1. José Andrés served up 1,350 tacos from three different types of grills in his solar kitchen. Andres spoke about bringing solar kitchens to developing countries like Haiti, opening a restaurant called Pwason Beni in Port-a-Prince and his desire to bring natural gas to every household around the world.
2. Jet Tila of Kuma Snow Cream says his Stir Market, a California take on the classic European food hall, opens in about two weeks in Los Angeles.
3. While he’s been on Cutthroat Culinary and Kitchen Inferno lately, Tila says he has a new show to announce in November He’s keeping mum on the concept.
4. Echo & Rig chef Sam Marvin roasted a whole lamb at Guitars & Grills, the kickoff event last Thursday for the festival.
5. BBD’s says they are choosing among three stand-alone and off-Strip locations for their first venture in Vegas. The pickle fries and steamed burgers from Ralph Perrazzo were pretty amazing.
6. Iron Chef Marc Forgione, who set up his booth next to brother Bryan Forgione’s Buddy V’s Ristorante at Grills & Guitars, would not confirm a rumor that he’s opening shop at the Grand Bazaar Shops in front of Bally’s Las Vegas. "To say I’m not looking would be a lie," is all he would confirm.
7. Forgione then promptly chatted with PR reps from Caesars Entertainment and it seemed as if he already knew them. Hmm.
8. Shawn McClain of Sage was disappointed that he had to leave Vegas for a wedding and miss the Foo Fighters on Sunday night. His octopus was one of the best dishes at Grills & Guitars.
9. Duff Goldman of Baltimore’s Charm City Cakes and Ace of Cakes wanted a huge fire for his banana Foster demo during Chefs on Stage, so he added Grand Marnier, Vegas rum and Everclear. His Creme Anglaise Ice Cream was made with liquid nitrogen.
10. Blue Ribbon sushi chef Toshi Ueki sliced and diced a 130-pound tuna during the festival. Insiders say chefs Bruce and Eric Bromberg, Jonathan Waxman, Marc Forgione and José Andrés, fed each other bits of tuna.
11. During his Chefs on Stage demonstration, Tila recorded a special message on his phone with his audience for his Cutthroat Kitchen co-star: "Hi, Alton Brown, we love you. From, Life is Beautiful."
12. Rx Boiler Room and RM Seafood chef Rick Moonen prepped a True North Salmon with pickled cucumbers and horseradish crème fraiche with a little help from singer Kimbra.
13. Scott Conant says that Wolfgang Puck and Daniel Boulud have been his culinary inspirations over the years.
14. And Infiniti. Kidding.
15. Conant served up a spice-crusted ribeye.
16. Cat Cora returned to Life Is Beautiful to make Basque-rubbed grilled lamb chops with a feta chimichurri on stage.
17. Perhaps one of the biggest complaints of the weekend was that guests couldn’t take drinks in or out of the Container Park, even though it was within the festival footprint.
18. Guests also couldn’t go out on the east side of the event to Atomic Liquors without getting a wristband from the Bunkhouse Saloon.
19. There were nine people at the Bunkhouse Saloon on Friday night at 6:30 p.m.
20. Atomic Liquors wanted to build a viewing platform so guests could at least see the Ambassador Stage. The city quashed that plan. Last year, Atomic was inside the festival footprint.
21. Nobu had one of the nicest food stands of the festival, serving sashimi, rock shrimp tempura, black code butter lettuce and pork belly as well as banana black sesame parfait and green tea parfait, both with a dulce de leche cremoso layer and rice crackers on top.
22. Hubert Keller of Fleur and Burger Bar made paella with ASTR.
23. Tila got on stage with UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson and made two types of pad Thai. One was vegetarian since Johnson's wife doesn't eat meat.