Tag Archives: chefs

Project Dinner Table Launches in Las Vegas

There is no shortage of delicious, multi-course meals or acclaimed chefs to prepare them in Las Vegas, yet now a new dinner series is bringing something different to the table.

Project Dinner Table debuts April 24 and aims to showcase Las Vegas produced ingredients in a unique setting.  The inaugural meal invites discerning, community-minded diners to take one of about 150 seats at the table—yes, the table; there is only one but it’s very long—and enjoy a six-course meal at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Orchard in North Las Vegas.

The menu is prepared by Sensi chef de cuisine Roy Ellamar and includes a salad using Overton-based Quail Hollow Farms greens, grass-fed beef (from Bar 10 in northern Arizona) served with vegetables grown at the Las Vegas Gilcrease Orchard.

Part of the proceeds from the $150-a-plate meal will support Junior Achievement of Southern Nevada, and the venue and chef will change with every monthly installment of the series.

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Recipe Bandido Steals Away in Las Vegas

Rodd Wilbur isn’t your ordinary chef.  In fact, he’s not a chef at all.  But what he “relishes” – he prefers “cloning” – the secret recipes for popular dishes made by restuarant chains like McDonald’s, Applebee’s and KFC.  Then, to make some scratch, he writes books to show how you too can make the yummy stuff. 

Wilbur started with the Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookie theft, coming up with a recipe that was a variation on the Nestlé Tollhouse classic and tasted remarkably close to Debbie Fields’ moneymaker. Then he moved on to more savory exploits. For his second recipe, he reverse-engineered the Big Mac. That special sauce? It’s basically Thousand Island dressing! 

A former TV news reporter, Wilbur, a Summerlin, Nevada resident, now works full-time cloning recipes for his cookbooks, which are for sale on QVC and have been featured on Oprah and Live with Regis and Kelly. He’s really not a chef or an innovator; he’s a casual-dining cloner, and success means tasting just like the real thing. 

“I want it to be exact,” Wilbur says as he gets to work on recreating a batch of cous cous salad from the Houston’s chain of restaurants. “I don’t want to make it better; I don’t want to make it worse. I don’t want to make it less fat. I don’t want to do anything to it except exactly duplicate it.” 

So far, Wilbur has exactly duplicated enough recipes for nine cookbooks. His 10th, 17 recipes shy of completion, should be out in September. The book will be called Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3. “Alternate title: The Greatest Cookbook Ever Written,” Wilbur jokes. 

Since publishing his first cookbook in 1993, Wilbur has sold close to 5 million copies of his cookbooks, all of which tackle well-known recipes from fast food or casual dining chains and break them down for cooks to re-create at home. 

His 1,000th recipe — the one most requested by visitors to his website — was Olive Garden’s chicken and gnocchi soup, or as Wilbur describes it, “really good shit.” 

Flipping through the pages of his books is like looking at a greatest-hits menu from chain restaurants: Buffalo Wild Wings’ Caribbean jerk sauce, the Cheesecake Factory’s Bang-Bang Chicken and Shrimp, Chili’s lettuce wraps, KFC’s biscuits. 

And Wilbur has all kinds of tricks for figuring out what goes into the dishes that people crave. Sometimes he asks for a seat at the bar or near the kitchen, so he can watch how desserts or dishes are assembled. Other times he claims to be a strict vegetarian or vegan, so he can find out if a dish contains chicken broth or animal fat. When Oprah Winfrey challenged him to create the Jack Daniel’s grill glaze from TGIFriday’s before appearing on her show, Wilbur faked an allergy so the restaurant would give him a list of the ingredients. 

Wilbur just loves his role of playing recipe investigator, hunting for clues and then putting the recipe pieces together until he’s completed a culinary puzzle that tastes fresh off the line.

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Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas Announces New Restaurants, Celebrity Chefs

If Las Vegas isn’t already home to the finest restaurants and chefs in the world, now there’s more of ‘em! 

The restaurant lineup at the sleek new $3.9 billon Cosmopolitan hotel-casino of Las Vegas has been announced.  Four of the five have strong New York ties; the other will be operated by acclaimed Los Angeles chef David Myers of the restaurant Comme Ca. The others: Bruce and Eric Bromberg’s Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill,  Costas Spiliadis’ Estiatorio Milos, Scott Conant’s Scarpetta (Conant was previously attached to Fountainbleau), and Steakhouse STK.

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Las Vegas Chefs Battle for Best Chef of the Year honors at James Beard Awards

Three Las Vegas chefs are battling for the coveted title of Best Chef of the Year Southwest in the 2010 James Beard Awards, and several other Strip chefs are represented in the Oscars of the food industry, as well. 

The finalists were announced last week in New Orleans, and the winners will be announced May 3 at New York’s Lincoln Center. 

The three Best Chefs of the Southwest finalists are the off-Strip Saipan Chutima from Lotus of Siam, Claude Le Tohic from Joël Robuchon at MGM and Rick Moonen from RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay. 

Michael Mina from MGM, Mandalay Bay, Bellagio and Aria is recognized twice in the prestigious awards: His RN74 in San Francisco is nominated for Best New Restaurant, and his self-named restaurant, also in the City by the Bay, is nominated for Outstanding Service, competing against Robuchon’s restaurant at MGM Grand.

Robuchon’s MGM pastry chef Kamel Guechuda is up for the Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year. 

Chef Tom Colicchio, well known to foodies here for his Craft at MGM and as host of Bravo’s Top Chef, is nominated as Outstanding Chef of the Year for his original Craft in Manhattan. 

Two other New York chefs with outposts in Las Vegas will also battle in the Outstanding Restaurant Award category: Mario Batali, who has restaurants at The Venetian and Palazzo, has been nominated for his Babbo in New York City and Daniel Boulud from the Wynn for his Daniel in Manhattan. 

Timothy Hollingsworth, former Venetian chef for Thomas Keller Brasserie and now at Thomas’ French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., has been nominated for Rising Star Chef of the Year. 

In other Las Vegas chef news, Todd English from Bellagio and Aria was nominated for Best TV Special for Food Trip With Todd English, as was The Venetian and Palazzo’s Emeril Lagasse who will go head-to-head with English in the TV category for Emeril’s Culinary Adventures: Napa

And architect and designer David Rockwell, who has masterminded numerous Las Vegas restaurants, Crystals at MGM’s CityCenter and the show Peepshow at Planet Hollywood, will be inducted into the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America.

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Las Vegas Loses Celebrity Chef Restaurant Charlie

Las Vegas is once again losing one of its celebrity chef restaurants. Charlie Trotter has closed his two-year-old Restaurant Charlie in the Palazzo in Las Vegas. 

Trotter, who is a Chicago institution, won his first Michelin star at his seafood-centered Las Vegas restaurant. The sushi bar inside the restaurant, Bar Charlie, was selected as one of the nation’s best sushi spots by Bon Appetit last year. 

Alas, the finances just weren’t working out for the Las Vegas restaurant that gave a valiant performance.

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Go Ahead, Splurge on a $750 Cupcake in Las Vegas

Forget about having a dinner fit for king- how about just ‘settling’ on a $750 cupcake in Las Vegas? 

The Sweet Surrender cupcake and candy store opened today in The Palazzo in Las Vegas.  It brings together remarkable pastry chefs and the finest ingredients to create irresistibly indulgent treats. Cupcakes, cookies, lollipops, toffee, licorice, hard candies and dipped treats, are just some of their many indulgent treats to satisfy any discerning sweet-tooth. 

The shop’s variety is wide and sweet-tooth satisfaction endless with the crème de la crème of Sweet Surrenders offerings being only for the most passionate cupcake lover: the $750 Decadence D’Or.  It’s a sumptuous cupcake, handcrafted from the most exclusive, rich, and enterprising ingredients around the globe.  One luscious ingredient is the Palmira Single Estate Chocolate derived from the rare and fragile Porcelana Criollo bean and cultivated to its fullest state of richness exclusively at the Valrhona plantation in Venezuela.  Complementary to the Palmira Single Estate Chocolate is Tahitian Gold Vanilla Caviar- the world’s most labor-intensive agricultural crop.  This fruit, after it is ripened for nine months, then hand-harvested, cured, sweat, dried, and hand-split, is obtained only by tedious manual extraction; it is truly a delicacy, both in taste and exclusivity. Topping the Decadence D’Or is the masterfully smooth Louis XIII de Remy Martin Cognac, 100 years in the making, and edible, metallic gold flakes, each painstakingly hand-placed.  Finally, once baked to perfection, this grand dessert is encased in a stately, hand blown sugar Fleur-de-Lis and presented on a handmade exclusive elegant crackled-gold glass curved plate and bowl. Your palette never had such a royal treatment! 

Chef Long Nguyen, executive pastry chef of The Venetian and The Palazzo is the visionary genius behind all the exotic cupcake flavors and Chef Johann Springfield, head baker makes the cupcakes a reality.  In addition to the exclusive specialty cupcake Decadence D’Or Sweet Surrender carries: Red Velvet, Lemon Strawberry, Chocolate Ganache, Carrot, Black Forest, Strawberry, Coconut and Chocolate Fudge cupcakes. 

Sweet Surrender, located on The Palazzo casino floor next to guest elevators, is open Sunday through Thursday 10 a.m. through 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. through Midnight.  Special orders can be placed directly by calling 702-607-0753.

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The Venetian & The Palazzo Welcomes the Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s 5th annual Carnivale du Vin Saturday night in Las Vegas

The Venetian and The Palazzo in Las Vegas welcome the Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s 5th annual Carnivale du Vin charity event this Saturday evening, Nov. 14. 

Ranked by Wine Spectator as a “Top Ten U.S. Charity Wine Auction,” the Carnivale du Vin celebration brings together the best in celebrity chefs and winemakers who serve a once-in-a-lifetime dinner to esteemed sponsors and guests. This group showcases its passion through unique culinary pairings with the season’s finest offerings. 

Held at the Venetian, the festive night will feature a live auction with rare wines and unique travel and lifestyle experiences as well as musical entertainment by the Neville Brothers. 

Ticket prices are $1,000 each and may be purchased online at www.venetian.com or by calling The Venetian Box Office at 702-414-7470. 

Celebrities expected to attend the event include: Emeril Lagasse, Wolfgang Puck, Mario Batali, Charlie Trotter, Daniel Boulud, Michael Mina, Bradley Ogden, Kerry Simon, Charlie Palmer, Joe Bastianich, Karina Smirnoff, Rob Goldstein, Sammy Hagar, and the Neville Brothers. 

If you would like a pro article on this event, interview coverage and/or pro photography, please leave us a note responding to this announcement and someone from Las Vegas Backstage Access will be back to you promptly.

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