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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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The Venetian in Las Vegas Adds Aresenal of Pocketcasino Games

More than offering just pocketcasino sports wagering, which Cantor Gaming launched at The Venetian last September, Cantor Gaming, an affiliate of the global financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald, has announced yesterday that their pocketcasino (only available on the Las Vegas Strip at The Venetian and The Palazzo), is now offering casino style games in addition to in-running sports wagering incuding traditional casino games such as blackjack, video poker and slots.  

Included in the new choice of casino games are innovative games including XtraOdds Blackjack and XtraOdds Baccarat. These games offer extra propositional bets that dynamically calculate odds based on the cards dealt, giving an extra opportunity to press or hedge your bets.  

Pocketcasino gaming promises a dramatic increase to business revenues while allowing casino patrons to multi-task and gamble like never before, including allowing patrons the ability to play casino style games while roaming throughout the high limit slot salon, Grazie gold lounge, race & sports book, and designated public areas currently including  bars, lounges and restaurants at The Venetian and The Palazzo in Las Vegas.

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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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Las Vegas Freeze Approaches– 16-Foot Polar Bear Appears!

The Palazzo in Las Vegas is uniquely celebrating the holiday season with artic décor complete with a larger-than-life 16-foot polar bear poinsettia sculpture that raises awareness about conservation of polar bears and Arctic habitat. 

While guests of The Palazzo Las Vegas will enjoy the usual sunny weather for the holiday season, from December 9 through the New Year they’ll also encounter the winter décor display anchored by a special Arctic visitor: a 16-foot tall polar bear mother and 6-foot tall polar bear baby, made entirely of a specially-developed white poinsettia named “Polar Bear.”

The “Polar Bear” Poinsettia is developed exclusively by Ecke Ranch, the largest grower in the world of poinsettias.  The strong white coloration of the “Polar Bear” Poinsettia with its bracts of deep green veining is the perfect topiary fur for the polar bear display. The custom, hand-sculpted and hand-painted heads and paws, constructed by Design Solutions, bring the bears to life.  The mother and baby bear, consisting of approximately 10,000 poinsettias planted in sphagnum moss and weighs in at approximately 5,000 lbs. The bears snuggle on a custom-sculpted ‘arctic ice float’ that hovers over a water feature located at The Palazzo Atrium. 

In addition to the larger-than-life polar bears, The Palazzo embraces the holiday season with Arctic inspired décor elements that combine to create the breathtaking winter wonderland display. The gardens are filled with a variety of unique poinsettias and 25-foot silver tip pine trees; an 80-foot whimsical vine transitions to holiday with oversized pine cones, holiday berries, poinsettias and twinkling holiday lights; over 225,000 cranberries donated by Ocean Spray float above a water feature creating a sea of cranberries and snow will elegantly fall from above the décor adding to the Arctic theme. 

The white “Polar Bear” Poinsettias have an important message to promote awareness of polar bears and the loss of their Arctic habitat due to climate change. Ecke Ranch is donating a portion of the proceeds from each poinsettia cutting sold to Polar Bears International (PBI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of polar bears through research and education.  This event will serve as the official launching pad for Ecke’s “Pay-it-Forward for Polar Bears” campaign which benefits PBI.   

“In a part of the world that never sees snow, it can be challenging to explain why the most important initiative that we can undertake at this time is saving polar bear habitat in the Arctic. Polar bears need sea ice for their survival, and so does the rest of the planet. The Arctic is a key regulator of the global climate system, and loss of Arctic sea ice will impact people and wildlife around the world. So when we save the polar bears, we save so many other species from butterflies to frogs,” said Robert Buchanan, president of Polar Bears International. 

“Currently the world’s CO2 level is at 385 parts per million (ppm) and growing at an average of two ppm per year. Scientists believe that the tipping point in the Arctic is around 400 ppm. Once this level is reached, the domino effect may not allow the summer ice to return for tens of thousands of years. This of course will not only affect wildlife but the ocean currents and humans in the end. This is not an irreversible situation. Individuals can and must make a difference. It can be as easy as packing a reusable bag when you shop, buy carbon off sets for your flights and purchasing products with limited and/or recycled packaging,” continued Buchanan. 

On December 9, The Palazzo will host the unveiling of the Arctic-inspired winter décor display to kick-off the holiday season and raise awareness about conservation of polar bears. The event will take place at 5 p.m. in The Palazzo Waterfall Atrium and the general public is welcome to join in the celebration.

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New Fusion Bar at The Palazzo in Las Vegas Offers Guests Out of this World Latin-Inspired Cocktails

There is a whole new vibrant energy on the casino floor at The Palazzo in Las Vegas.  Their new Fusion bar has recently opened and it features a Latin-inspired mixology bar with beautifully handcrafted cocktails focusing on the Latin American beverage culture. 

Designed by hand-picked, award-winning bartenders and mixologists, Fusion’s cocktail menu focuses on Brazilian, Peruvian, and Mexican regions of the world. Flavorful music and video from Latin America play throughout the day and night as guests enjoy delicious fusions custom made by a skillfully trained mixology team. 

The mixology team at Fusion creates their select cocktails through muddling– a technique that uses the concept of mixing fresh fruit with a stainless steel rod, by hand, to create a refreshing, all-natural concoction. Examples include the Peruvian-fused Pisco Tango, with mango infused Barsol Pisco Quebranta, fresh lime juice, rock candy syrup, and funkin mango puree; Brazilian-infused Pineapple Batida with Agua Luca Cachaca, fresh pineapple juice, and sweetened condensed milk; or the Mexican-fused Paloma with pink grapefruit, tequila, rock candy syrup, fresh pink grapefruit juice and 7 Up. 

“Fusion brings the regional beverage culture of Latin America to The Palazzo,” said Sebastien Silvestri, executive director of food and beverage for The Palazzo and The Venetian. “With fine spirits such as rum, pisco, cachaca, and tequila coupled with fresh fruit, the cocktail experience at Fusion will allow guests to enjoy a premium beverage in a high energy environment.” 

Along with offering the finest cocktails, gaming machines consisting of blackjack, keno, poker, and slots are conveniently located at the bar. Happy Hour Specials occur daily from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. – Midnight. Fusion is located on The Palazzo casino floor and is open 24 hours a day. For more information please call 702-607-7777 or visit www.palazzolasvegas.com.

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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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Tori Spelling & Dean McDermott Fall in Love with Las Vegas

Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott spent Labor Day weekend at The Palazzo in Las Vegas with their children, Liam and Stella.  The family of four left Los Angeles on Friday afternoon, piling into their luxurious Volkswagen Routan for a holiday weekend road trip to Las Vegas. ToriSpelling

Tori and Dean were excited to arrive in Las Vegas and felt so at home with all of their favorite people surrounding them, including their handsome son Liam, their beautiful daughter Stella, and the Guncles— Scout Masterson and Bill Horn who were recently married.  The newlyweds were sporting bracelets with the word “GUNCLES” beaded on.  

After they arrived, Tori and Dean relaxed in their suite for a while and then went straight off to Canyon Ranch Spa Club for a hot rocks couple’s massage.  

Afterwards, they went back to their luxurious suite at The Palazzo to get ready to see Joan Rivers.  Tori and Dean were excited to see her perform and went backstage after the show to hang out with Joan. 

Dean, Tori and The Guncles were hungry after the show so they went to Wolfgang Puck’s CUT restaurant for dinner.  Fans stopped Tori in the casino to say how much they loved her.  Tori looked stunning in her long green dress, while Dean was sporting a seersucker Juicy Couture blazer.  The couple went to bed early so that they could get ready for their big day hosting the pool event at AZURE at The Palazzo Las Vegas for ABSOLUT Saturdays.  

On Saturday afternoon, Tori and Dean headed down with the Guncles to ABSOLUT Saturday at AZURE pool at The Palazzo Las Vegas.  Tori was decked out in a Point bathing suite, Costume National shoes and a pink romper by Ra Mona La Rue.  Hubby Dean was decked head to toe in his favorite brand– Affliction board shorts and an Affliction t-shirt. 

Tori and Dean walked down the infamous blue carpet together and then Tori did another walk with the Guncles, Scout and Bill. Regina King from NBC’s Southland and Melissa Rivers also walked the carpet.  Fans gathered as Tori signed copies of her book, “Mommywood,” and was very receptive to all the Palazzo guests.  Dean stood by Tori’s side the entire time, affectionately calling her “T” and made sure that she was drinking enough water.  

The couple lounged in the Las Vegas sun at AZURE in a cabana, spritzing each other down with Evian water and feeding each other cold, frozen grapes. Dean ate Wolfgang Puck’s signature Margarita pizza (Tori had 2 slices!) while Tori sipped champagne.  To top off the afternoon, Tori and Dean relaxed with a Champagne on the Rocks couples massage provided by The Palazzo’s Canyon Ranch Spa Club in their private cabana. 

Tori was so excited to learn that Barneys New York was located inside the hotel at The Shoppes at The Palazzo. The Guncles commented that Tori had been working so hard lately (she is designing her own children’s clothing line) and that this weekend was just what she needed.

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