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Feel No Pain: Get Uncork’d in Las Vegas

For the next four days you can attend the largest foodie event ever held in Las Vegas, if not the Western world: Vegas Uncorked, sponsored by Bon Appetit.

The event officially kicks off at 4 p.m. today when French superchef Alain Ducasse performs the champagne uncorking with a saber at his Mix restaurant and lounge atop The Hotel at Mandalay Bay.

The festival takes place May 6-9, with the signature event being a “Grand Tasting” ($175) on May 7 at the Garden of the Gods in Caesars Palace.  That event will feature chef Hubert Keller serving.

Not everyone has the chance—or wherewithal—to dine at the restaurants of chefs such as Joël Robuchon, Guy Savoy, Bobby Flay or François Payard, but they all will be there (along with about 60 other celebrated chefs) displaying and offering up their delicious wares.

Among the events on May 8 are the Ultimate All-Star Interactive Luncheon ($195) at Encore; Culinary Theater: All the Kitchen’s a Stage ($95) at RM Seafood; and the Wine Immersion Experience ($75) at Bellagio.

The lineup of celebrated chefs who have Las Vegas restaurants includes Bobby Flay, Wolfgang Puck, Paul Bartolotta, Julian Serrano, Todd English, Luciano Pellegrini and Charlie Palmer.

Tickets are going fast; please go to www.vegasuncorked.com for further information.

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Harrah’s Entertainment Expands Rewards Program to Nongamblers

Each day in Las Vegas tens of thousands people spend oodles of money on nongaming activities.   Knowing this, Harrah’s Entertainment has recently come up with a new revenue enhancing idea- expanding their rewards programs to nongamblers. 

Customers signed up on the programs can now earn a reward point for every dollar spent in stores and restaurants at Harrah’s casinos.  Although the largest chunk of overall casino revenue is generated by gambling, that amount is falling as other segments, including rooms and drinks, is growing at warp speed.

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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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Las Vegans Relish Vegan Restuarants

It’s not easy finding really good vegan food hotspots in Las Vegas.  So, here’s seven good ones for your discerning vegan palate:

Rainbow’s End  This market and café is full of natural foods and has a wonderful vegetarian/vegan café. The most popular dish—for more than 30 years—is the Green Goddess pita sandwich ($7.49), which features avocado, cucumber, tomato, grated carrots and beets, onions, Vegenaise and cheese. There are some wickedly tasty desserts, too, including a sinful organic peanut-butter chocolate pie. Café open for breakfast and lunch 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and noon to 5 p.m. Sat.; market open 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Fri, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sat. and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun.; 1100 E. Sahara Ave., 702-737-1338.

Go Raw Café  Considered by many the only truly vegan kitchen in Las Vegas,  this restaurant lives up to its name by serving cuisine made of raw ingredients, such as the Gimme the Beet “Cheese” Burger ($10.88, with fries), which consists of beets, carrots, sunflower seeds and parsley served on living bread with handmade ketchup, mustard, mayo, onion, tomato, lettuce, sprouts, avocado and almond cheese. 2910 Lake East Dr., 9 a.m-9 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun., 702-254-5382, and 2381 E. Windmill Lane, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun., 702-450-9007.

Red Velvet Café  This Las Vegas vegan hot spot is known for its amazing food, stylish décor and friendly atmosphere. The extensive menu, featuring dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs vegan-style ($10.99), will satisfy the pickiest eater. 7875 W. Sahara Ave., 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 702-360-1972.

Samosa Factory Indian Cuisine  Samosa claims to serve the best vegan and vegetarian food in Las Vegas, and it certainly offers affordable food with great taste. See for yourself, with dishes such the Baigan Bharta, charbroiled eggplant with onions and tomato, or the Veggie Kofta Curry, which includes opo squash, chickpea flour and garlic. All of these dishes are served with basmati rice and cost $11. Lunch 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon.-Fri., dinner 5-9 p.m. Mon.-Thurs. and 5-10 p.m. Fri., noon-10 p.m. Sat.; 4604 W. Sahara Ave., 702-804-0293.

Paymon’s Mediterranean Café & Lounge  This is a vegan-friendly place, but you might call ahead to make arrangements for your meal. Try the lentil soup ($2.95 cup, $6.25 bowl) and the rich hummus for lunch. 4147 S. Maryland Parkway, 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. (lounge open to 1 a.m.), 702-731-6030; and 8380 W. Sahara Ave., 11 a.m. 1 a.m., 702-731-6030.

Panevino Ristorante & Gourmet Deli  This alluring restaurant is very vegan-friendly. They make a delicious wholewheat penne with vegan sauce ($22), and it even has homemade vegan desserts.  The catch? You will need to call at least 24 hours ahead of time to make arrangements for a vegan meal. That may be a pain, but the great part is being able to dine your way while enjoying the company of your non-vegan friends. 5-10 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 246 Via Antonio Ave., 702-222-2400. 

Whole Foods Market.  Yes, it’s a supermarket chain, but true vegans know the value of its offerings and convenience. Whole Foods not only offers a vast array of organic produce, but its deli has great variety for vegan meals, including a salad bar—making this an ideal place to get a quick bite and pick up the groceries. Four locations: www.wholefoodsmarket.com

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$67 Million Memorial Day Weekend Party in Las Vegas

Lavish spending and, hopefully, getting a great return on the investment, is the whole idea behind the replacement of the porte cochere at Wynn’s Encore with Encore Beach Resort and Surrender nightclub in Las Vegas, including new outdoor seating for Switch restaurant as well. 

The changes, funded by Wynn Resorts Ltd., all kickoff starting on Memorial Day weekend.

The beach club features a 60,000-square-foot pool with 40-foot tall palm trees and three tiered pools.  Bungalows and cabanas are part of the chic design experience, along with a restaurant and poolside gaming tables.

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Cosmopolitan Hotel-Casino Plans December Opening in Las Vegas

The new $3.9 billion Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas hotel-casino will open mid-December with about one-third of its 2,995 total rooms delaying opening until July 2011. 

It’s likely to be the last major new hotel-casino to open on the struggling Las Vegas Strip for at least a few years. 

Cosmopolitan’s CEO John Unwin said the hotel’s amenities include 13 restaurants, a spa, nightclub, 150,000 square feet of meeting and convention space and retail stores.

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Company Kitchen & Pub Morphs into Las Vegas Lounge

Pure Management Group has announced its intention to convert Company Kitchen & Pub House at the Luxor in Las Vegas into Company Lounge, “a casual nightlife venue.” 

This is the second such change for the 11,000 square-foot venue, which opened in November 2007 as Company American Bistro. Originally helmed by Chef Adam Sobel (formerly of Restaurant Guy Savoy, currently executive chef of RM Seafood), the über-chic, ski lodge-inspired venue’s opening celebrity investor lineup included such Hollywood luminaries as Nick Lachey, Nicky Hilton and Wilmer Valderrama. Following Chef Sobel’s March 2008 departure—as well as that of Top Chef’s foam-of-famer Marcel Vigneron—Company briefly shut down to transform into the more approachable, American tapas iteration. 

A PMG representative reports that the Company Lounge schedule has cut back from the resto’s Wednesday through Sunday, 5 p.m.-late, to just “Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings.”

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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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New Daytime Partying Comes to Las Vegas

To many, partying into the wee hours of the morning in Las Vegas is just part of the seductive intrigue.  But, why not opt for a change to your modus operandi and try an opulent brand of new daytime partying? 

The 9 Group, renowned for superb dining, nightlife and lifestyle experiences, presents a provocative and innovative new dayclub affair known as High Society at Nove Italiano in the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, premiering 1 p.m. Sunday, April 11.   

Creating a posh atmosphere filled with life’s little luxuries in the middle of the afternoon, High Society offers partygoers a place to mix and mingle among Las Vegas’ nobility while indulging in high-end libations, decadent brunch and vivacious entertainment.   

Upon entering, Nove Italiano will envelope guests in a complete sensory experience – from sophisticated interior decor, to aromatic food and thirst-quenching beverages, to the incomparable energy created by resident DJs Zen Freeman and Mark Stylz spinning on the turntables.  Atop the Palm’s sky-scraping 51st floor, Nove Italiano’s guests will indulge in some of the city’s most spectacular views, and enjoy ever-changing exuberant entertainment, including roaming live musicians and a live painter offering complimentary tableside guest portraits. 

The brunch menu at High Society combines rich tastes and traditional favorites at various stations including the salad, fresh fruits and fish stations, as well as a build your own frittatas station. Fare also includes warm items on the griddle or hot plate such as Italian sausage and pepper hash, crispy pancetta and chicken apple sausage, a variety of poached eggs served with crab cake, spinach and bearnaise sauce, pancetta, ciabatta, drizzled with a Hollandaise sauce or long cooked greens mixed with a fontina cheese and fonduta. Other warm items include a variety of pizzas and Panini sandwiches. Guests can pair brunch with $99 bottles of champagne and half bottles of spirits. 

High Society will start at 1 p.m. every Sunday at Nove Italiano. The buffet brunch is $30 per person. Guests must be 21 years of age or older to attend. Admission is free and table reservations are strongly recommended. For more information, VIP tables and bottle reservations, visit www.novelasvegas.com  or call 702-942-6800. 

Nove Italiano is open for dinner Monday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.  For additional information, please visit www.novelasvegas.com or call 702-942-6800.

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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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Lots of Sagging Hooters Up for Sale

The popular hot wings (served, of course, with a side of scrumptious waitress eye-candy) restaurant and bar chain is having financial troubles galore and is aggressively looking for prospective buyers.

And that’s not the half of it:  In February, a Las Vegas man confessed to a kidnapping in the Hooters parking lot and later trying to burn the body, according to a Las Vegas Metro police report. The report said the victim, Prisma Contreras, had gotten off work early at the Mad Onion restaurant at the Hooters Hotel and Casino and was abducted from the parking lot in her jeep. 

Police said suspect Richard Freeman Jr. confessed to the murder and that he and suspect Gregory Lee Hover were trying to find a prostitute when they spotted Contreras and used a gun to kidnap her. The report said Hover sexually assaulted the victim and tried to strangle her with twine. But when that didn’t work, he stabbed her repeatedly and then cut her throat, police said. The pair then tried to burn the body and the jeep in the desert near Boulder City, but was unsuccessful. Both suspects have been charged with murder. 

Adding insult to the gorey death, their sales have continued to sag due to the recession and in the past usually NOTHING was sagging at good old Hooters.  Now, analysts say the huge chain is actively shopping around and trying to sell the conglomerate for at least $250 million. 

Likewise, the Hooters Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas isn’t doing at all well either, to which the Hooters restaurant chain receives a royalty fee for the use of the name.    In fact, the New York Post recently claimed the Hooters Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas is the primary culprit to blame for the company’s financial woes. According to the newspaper, the Las Vegas businesss was recently in default on $144.5 million in long-term debt. 

This isn’t the first time Hooters has faced financial troubles. Hooters Air, their passenger airline, was only flying high for about three years, from 2003 to mid 2006, before going belly up.  

Las Vegas Backstage Access has learned from inside sources the chain will shutter its doors by the end of March and very soon someone will snap up the Hooters chain before it further goes tits up — after all, it’s an American institution.

Hooters of America, Inc. is the Atlanta-based operator and franchiser of over 450 Hooters restaurant and bar locations in 43 states in the United States and more than two dozen countries. The restaurant chain, which trades on female sex appeal, owns 122 units.

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Eva Langoria Parker to be honored for Latin Chamber of Commerce Business Leadership Award in Las Vegas

Eva Longoria Parker, entrepreneur and owner of two new, successful CityCenter ventures, Beso steakhouse and Eve nightclub, will host the Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce 35th Installation Gala on Saturday, Feb. 20 at Eve in Crystals at CityCenter in Las Vegas.  Red carpet starts at 6 p.m. for media. 

Part of the official swearing-in ceremony of the 2010 Board of Directors. Luis Valera, Chairman of the Board, will share his vision for 2010 and present Longoria Parker with the first-ever “Premio de Oro – Distinguished Leadership” award. The award recognizes Longoria Parker for her success as the Las Vegas Strip’s sole Latina restaurant and nightclub owner and for her commitment to expand opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses. 

In addition, the City of Las Vegas and Clark Country will declare February 20 as “Eva Longoria Parker Day.” 

Following the proclamation ceremony starting at 6:45 p.m. and award presentation at 7:45 p.m. for media, Longoria Parker will host an after-party celebration at Eve nightclub. Eve event is open to the public.

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Michelin Three-Star Chef Masayoshi Takayama to Open First Las Vegas Restaurant

Michelin three-star chef Masayoshi Takayama — who opened Ginza Sushi-ko in Los Angeles in the ’80s, transplanted his temple of sushi from a mid-Wilshire Los Angeles strip mall to a second-floor aerie off Rodeo Drive (where Urasawa is now) in the ’90s and moved to New York to open Masa and Bar in 2004- is set to debut his first Vegas venture on Dec. 17: another Bar Masa and Shaboo, a shabu-shabu restaurant. 

He joins fellow three-star chef  Pierre Gagnaire of Paris (who opened Twist, his first restaurant in the U.S.) as well as Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Michael Mina, in the $8.5-billion CityCenter on the Vegas Strip.   

“It’s a new, gigantic building where I get to create my idea, my style,” Takayama says. “It’s more than the food. Very different from Ginza Sushi-ko style.” 

It’s also very different from Bar Masa in New York; the Las Vegas outpost — inside the Aria Resort & Casino — is about three times the size, decorated in high Strip style with 15-foot doors of teak and copper, curved red leather banquettes and arched ceilings. 

Takayama calls it coming full circle. On his first trip to Los Angeles from Tokyo, he got off the plane and drove directly to Las Vegas to see “flat land.”  

The menu for Bar Masa in Las Vegas will recall the one in New York, with Japanese small plates such as spicy cod roe pasta with purple shiso flowers; duck with foie gras; sizzling spicy octopus; or grilled eel with rice. (He says his fish will still be from the Tsukiji market in Tokyo.) 

The more-intimate 52-seat Shaboo is located inside Bar Masa, serving omakase (tasting menu) shabu-shabu at tables equipped with individual induction heating elements for cooking beef flown in from Chiba prefecture.

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Tommy Rocker Puts On His Rockin’ Shoes Again in Las Vegas

Tommy Rocker has been a Las Vegas club/restaurant owner and long time musician and entertainment fixture for decades- probably singing more Margaritaville ballads to locals and out-of-towners then Jimmy Buffet himself — and plucking more feelin’ good tunes from his guitar than his patrons drank Margaritas at his Cantina in Las Vegas. TommyRocker

So, it was no major surprise that about four years ago, during a talk after one of his trademark Saturday open-mic shows, Tommy Rocker (real name: Thomas Greenough) spun yet another euphoric and repetitive tale about how he was going to turn his Tommy Rocker’s Cantina into an adult club.  At which juncture, most patrons just so fit to call for another drink. 

Remarkably, he’d held a topless-club license for years but had never taken advantage of using it to ostensibly draw in the big bucks. Then, about a year and a half later, in the summer of 2007, Rocker converted mere bravado into action, turning the one-time Parrot Head emporium on 4275 Dean Martin Drive, just south of The Rio into a gentlemen’s club.  

But soon he found that even the lure of silicone boobies wasn’t enough to make him visit his business often, which was his usual modus operandi.  Inactions and neglect eventually translated into a suffering balance sheet, badly in need of life support and more than just mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, no matter how sexy the giver. The adult club was a good idea, in theory, but so not Tommy. 

So Rocker decided to give up on his “gentlemen’s club” and switch back to his old open-mic, live music beach-club format that was attended regularly by a standing-room clientele. 

“A couple of months ago, I found myself thinking, ‘I hate this bar. I hate coming here, and I own the place.’ I realized then it was time to change it back,” says Rocker. 

And not any too soon.  On Sept. 9 Tommy Rocker’s Cantina & Grill, received 19 demerits including violations for slimy and spoiled mushrooms. 

Under his new business name, Tommy Rocker’s Mojave Beach Bar & Grill, he’s not only vowed to clean up his food act but has scheduled a comedy night (Cozy’s Comedy Corner, the first Friday of every month, inadvertently giving First Friday more competition), his own sing-along show Saturdays at 9:30 p.m. and country night with Seth Turner at 8 p.m. Wednesdays, followed by open mic with Las Vegas singer/songwriter Joey Vitale. 

The grand reopening and 20th anniversary for Rocker’s business in Las Vegas is Oct. 3. 

This is a good thing. This is a very good thing. Tell your friends.  The conga line forms to the left.

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B.B. King Brings Thrilling Blues Club to Las Vegas

BBKingThe “Thrill is Gone” no longer as the King of Blues brings his popular restaurant, bar and nightlife venue, B.B. King’s Blues Club, to Las Vegas. The namesake that made Lucille famous is set to open winter 2009 at The Mirage.   With very few blues clubs in Las Vegas, this club will be a welcome addition.

From early morning to late night, B.B. King’s Blues Club will serve the best in Creole cuisine fused with that southern comfort touch. Palates of Las Vegas visitors and locals alike are sure to be awakened by signature items such as Fried Dill Pickles, Gumbo Ya Ya Straight from the Bayou, Lip Smacking Ribs, Southern Fried Catfish and Banana Bread Pudding.   

And it doesn’t stop with the food- the drink concoctions are just as tasty and full of soul – from the Boll Weevil that’s sure to pack a punch to the Wang Dang Doodle that the women will love. 

It is an all-in-one experience as B.B. King’s Blues Club offers music seven nights a week from funky and fast to soulful and smooth. Come for dinner and experience the tunes that emanate from the in-room stage. As the night progresses, so will the tunes as guests turn to the dance floor to dance the night away. The house bands at B.B. King’s Blues Club surpass the standard of what many know to be a house band, and friends of the King are likely to stop by at any time to join them and jam the night away. 

B.B. King’s Blues Club at The Mirage will be located across from The Beatles Revolution Lounge and next to Samba Brazilian Steakhouse. The 558-seat venue will feature four bars; one outside looking into the club and three inside, all with great views of the stage and entertainment. The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night dining; open until 2 a.m. on weekdays and 4 a.m. on weekends or until the last man (or woman) is left standing. The signature retail section of the famed blues club will be open all hours for patrons to take home some soul, including T-shirts, glassware, guitar picks and more. For more information: www.bbkingclubs.com

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Mandarin Oriental Annouces Pierre Gagnaire’s Twist Restaurant in Las Vegas’ CityCenter

Mandarin Oriental, prominently situated at the entrance of CityCenter in Las Vegas, will introduce the award-winning cuisine of three-star Michelin Chef Pierre Gagnaire at the luxury hotel’s signature restaurant, Twist by Pierre Gagnaire.

Opening in December 2009, Twist will be Gagnaire’s first restaurant in the United States. The innovative menu will infuse the simplicity of classic French cuisine with a modern spin, relying on a pairing of flavors and textures for which Gagnaire is known.

In a distinguished career that spans more than 35 years, Gagnaire has gained the highest acclaim for his restaurants in Paris, London, Tokyo, Seoul, Dubai and his namesake restaurant, “Pierre” at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. 

Gagnaire is well-known for being at the forefront of the fusion movement. Beginning his career in St. Etienne, Gaganaire won three Michelin Stars and tore at the conventions of classic French cooking by introducing radical juxtapositions of tastes and textures. His influence on cooking has been recognized worldwide. 

Las Vegas Backstage Access will provide you a spot or feature article and/or professional photography for this or any of the many new venues opening in CityCenter this December for your publication.  If interested, please provide comment to this article or newsletter/contact tab and we will get back to you.

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Las Vegas Says No to High-Flying Dining on the Strip

It looks like there will be no high flying dining on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. 

The Clark County commissioners last Wednesday denied a local entrepreneur’s request to move his Dinner in the Sky business there. Michael Hinden’s company hoists patrons 160 feet high so they can get a good look at Las Vegas while dining.

Hinden’s business is currently off west Sahara Avenue, as was previously written in an article by Las Vegas Backstage Access. But there he can only operate a crane on Fridays and Saturdays. He says he needs a place where he can offer sky dinners nightly.

After getting resistance to his proposed location at the former New Frontier hotel, Hinden withdrew his request.

For a chance to sky dine, people pay $200 to be strapped into a seat at a dinner table that’s on a platform lifted into the air by a crane.

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All the Skinny on “Top Chef: Las Vegas”

Bravo has revealed the identities of the 17 “chef’testants” who will be competing on Top Chef: Las Vegas and announced the sixth edition of Top Chef will premiere Wednesday, August 26 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. TopChefVegas

Top Chef: Las Vegas’ contestants will be competing for a grand-prize package that will include prizes similar to the reality culinary competition’s previous seasons.  Thanks to show sponsor Glad, the winner will receive $100,000 in seed money to help open a restaurant; a feature in Food & Wine magazine; a showcase at the Annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen; and the title of “Top Chef.”  However Top Chef’s sixth season will also feature an additional prize: $100,000 of merchandise provided by Macy’s. 

The popular program was filmed in and around Las Vegas earlier this year and soon became the talk of the town’s culinary circles – and the city’s worst kept TV secret. 

Bravo refused to confirm or comment about the long-awaited Vegas version “Top Chef” until last month, after production had wrapped on the seventh series of the popular show. Meanwhile, cameras and crew members were seen throughout the city, shooting segments at various locations including M Resort, which served as the production location during filming, Springs Preserve and World Market Center. 

The network said “some of the top names in food, movies and entertainment” will be featured throughout season six, including actress Natalie Portman, and Las Vegas Rio headliners Penn & Teller. 

Unfortunately, none of the “Top Chef: Las Vegas” so-called “chef’testants” are from Las Vegas. The closest to a local competitor the city has is the youngest of the brothers, 30-year-old Michael Voltaggio, who lives in Los Angeles, Calif. (The Voltaggios grew up an hour north of Washington, D.C., in Frederick, Md.)

Some of the biggest names in food will also take part, including Wolfgang Puck, Todd English, Daniel Boulud, Charlie Palmer, Paul Bartolotta, and Hubert Keller (who made his “Top Chef Masters” debut during the spin-off series’ debut last month), among others. 

Lately, there have been a couple of Bravo’s Top Chef sightings as the cheftestants, Tom Colicchio and the gang bounced around from hotel to hotel shooting Season Six.   They’ve been spotted at Mandalay Bay and The M Resort.

As a footnote, Tom C. has two restaurants in Las Vegas.  Craftsteak at MGM Grand, opened in 2002 and is one of the best steakhouses in Las Vegas- a favorite haunt of ex-President Bill Clinton and rocker Gene Simmons.  Colicchio’s other venue is Wichcraft, also at MGM Grand- the sandwiches are to die for.

The network had formally renewed Top Chef for a sixth season in April and the Sin City represents the sixth different location for the culinary competition, which now ranks as Bravo’s highest-rated series following Project Runway’s move to Lifetime.

 “Las Vegas has become a culinary destination — some of the world’s best chefs and restaurants are here — so it’s only fitting that our newest season was the best yet,” Top Chef lead judge Tom Colicchio said. “You’ll be surprised by the quality of chef’testants we discovered this season. They really raised the bar.”

In addition to Colicchio, Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi and judges Gail Simmons and Toby Young will also reprise their roles for the show’s sixth edition, which was filmed at The M Resort Spa & Casino in Las Vegas.

The season will also include guest appearances by  Wolfgang Puck, Todd English, Natalie Portman, Daniel Boulud, Penn & Teller, Hubert Keller, Laurent Tourondel, Tim Love, Michelle Bernstein, Tyler Florence, Charlie Palmer, Paul Bartolotta, Nigella Lawson and Jerome Bocuse. 

The upcoming season of “Top Chef” will follow the same structure as previous seasons, with a short “quickfire” challenge at the beginning of each episode followed by a main elimination challenge. 

“Each episode holds two challenges for the chefs,” stated this morning’s press release. “The first is a quickfire test of their basic abilities and the second is a more involved elimination challenge designed to test the versatility and inventiveness of the chefs as they take on unique culinary trials such as working with unusual and exotic foods or catering for a range of demanding clients.”

Bravo is also bringing a few new features to the “Top Chef” table this season, including a special “Top Recipe” Web series featuring season five contestant Fabio Viviani. 

Each week, the former “Top Chef: New York” personality will demonstrate how to cook the winning dish in a segment exclusive to the Web. 

Another “Webisode” series, “Guest Judges: Strip’d,” will provide insights and a more personal perspective of the judges, while another will show the chefs out on the town in Las Vegas and give viewers a peek into the chefs’ lives outside the kitchen. 

Further technological enhancements will include a phone-based “Slice & Dice Showdown” hosted by one of the show’s judges, Toby Young. The mobile video series will see each of the Voltaggio brothers lead a team of their fellow “Top Chef” competitors through a foodie challenge in anticipation of the final, ultimate dessert bake-off.

Top Chef: Las Vegas’ 17 contestants are:

– Ash Fulk, a 29-year-old from Pleasant Hill, CA who currently resides New York, NY

– Ashley Merriman, a 32-year-old from Center Sandwich, NH who currently resides in Seattle, WA

– Bryan Voltaggio, a 33-year-old from Frederick, MD who currently resides in Urbana, MD

– Eli Kirshtein, a 25-year-old from Atlanta, GA

– Eve Aronoff, a 40-year-old from Ann Arbor, MI

– Hector Santiago, a 41-year-old from San Juan, PR who currently resides in Atlanta, GA

– Jennifer Carroll, a 33-year-old from Philadelphia, PA

– Jennifer Zavala, a 31-year-old from Cromwell, CT who currently resides in Philadelphia, PA

– Jesse Sandlin, a 30-year-old from Baltimore, MD

– Kevin Gillespie, a 26-year-old from Atlanta, GA

– Laurine Wickett, a 38-year-old from Rochester, NY who currently resides in San Francisco, CA

– Mattin Noblia, a 29-year-old from Biarritz, France who currently resides in San Francisco, CA

– Michael Isabella, a 34-year-old from Little Ferry, NJ who currently resides in Washington, DC

– Michael Voltaggio, a 30-year-old from Frederick, MD who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA

– Preeti Mistry, a 33-year-old from San Francisco, CA

– Robin Leventhal, a 43-year-old from Sun Valley, ID who currently resides in Seattle, WA

– Ron Duprat, a 40-year-old from Mare Rouge, Haiti who currently resides in Hollywood, FL and Naples, FL

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Dine Way, Way Up in the Las Vegas Sky- No Walls!

Las Vegas always loves hosting the unique, out of the ordinary experiences – even crazy stuff – for our visitors and Las Vegans like.  Now Las Vegas fun doesn’t have to stop before dinner, but can continue all the way through it- way, way up in the sky! DinnerInTheSky

An unforgettable dining experience is being offered by Dinner in the Sky at 2800 West Sahara Ave. in Las Vegas, where 22 dinner guests dine suspended over 160-180 feet in the Las Vegas air!  The guests sit comfortably at a Sky Table, dining on fine food prepared by Sky Chefs while enjoying spectacular views of the Las Vegas valley and skyline. 

Twenty-two Formula One race car style seats with five-point harnesses are affixed to the perimeter of a 17-foot-by-30-foot platform. Diners take their seats and a “Sky Chef” and three “Sky Waiters,” who assist in the final food preparation and serving of dishes such as “Sky-High Chicken” or “Over-the-Top Filet,” stand in the middle of the platform. 

Chefs prepare and serve the food in the air. Diners have no floor beneath them, though they do have foot rests. Diners can also turn their seats 180 degrees. 

The five-star dining experience happens by the use of a 250-ton, hydraulic, telescoping crane that reaches up to 183 feet into the air, smooth as riding on an elevator. The platform and seats weigh seven tons, are held by eight cables and need a really strong wind to make it scarier than exhilarating– the entire apparatus is rated to be safe in winds up to 35 mph. 

Dinner in the Sky, open from 3 p.m to midnight six nights a week, costs from $200 to $500 per person. It is costlier if, for instance, diners wanted to take their “flight” — term for going for a sky-high dinner — during sunset. 

Each dinner guest is always treated to extra special VIP treatment.  They offer pick up and drop off at your hotel, a red carpet reception, complimentary photography and access to the Sky Lounge, a fun and festive place to party down or just relax before and after your flight. 

The lofty dining idea was first conceived in Belgium, but now has spread to Canada, China, and more than a dozen other countries around the world.  

Las Vegas was the first and still is – for now – the only place in the U.S. to experience the unique dining experience.

Now the high-hanging gastronomical business wants to expand and open a new Las Vegas location smack dab on the Las Vegas Strip in the burned-out remains of the Trump building sales office across the street from the Wynn properties, just north of Fashion Show Mall.  

Obviously, his neighbor, casino mogul Steve Wynn is not at all hep into the idea, thinking it will draw people away from his current Wynn and Encore Las Vegas establishments. 

Terry Murphy, who spoke on behalf of Wynn Resorts at the July 21 Planning Commission meeting, said “this is just not acceptable in terms of what the Wynn is asking for in their neighborhood.” Wynn Resorts complained that Dinner in the Sky is a “carnival-like attraction.” 

The owner of Dinner in the Sky chuckled at the “carnival” characterization. 

This Wednesday, August 19 the Clark County Commission will review the proposal. 

The owner says that if he can move to the Strip, he expects the number of Dinner in the Sky employees to increase from 15 now to about 80 by the end of the year.

He also says Steve Wynn will be pleasantly surprised once he sees it up and running. 

“We’ll have patrons who will pay $200 to $500 per person, and those are the kind of people you’d think he would want to visit his hotel across the street,” he said.

For more information or reservations, please call 702.257.7303 or 1-877-4SKYDINE or visit http://www.dinnerintheskylv.com/

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“Chefs vs. City” Cable TV Show Visits Las Vegas

Cable TV is serving up yet another tantalizing food show entree as “Chefs vs. City” airs on the Food Network at 10 p.m. on Fridays.  

The by-product is, hopefully, the new show could potentially boost our stagnant Las Vegas economy. In this week’s episode, the gang visits the Minus 5 Degree Lounge, BLT Burger and Shibuya.

 But the key scene is when two-person teams- Food Network chefs Chris Cosentino and Aaron Sanchez and Seablue’s executive chef Stephen Hopcraft and executive pastry chef Santanna Salas – have to hurriedly eat 100 bite-sized versions of the Bellagio buffet items, ranging from pickled ginger to smoked duck with St. Andre croustade and pecan caramel to items that have a dazed Salas wondering, “What is all of this?”

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Hash House A Go Go in Las Vegas Hosts Viewing Party for Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food”

Hash House a Go Go restaurant teams up with Mix 94.1 and Jack FM radio stations in Las Vegas to host a viewing party for the Las Vegas episode of “Man v. Food,” which features the restaurant’s twisted farm food.

There will be happy hour prices on drinks from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on August 12 featuring $2 domestic 20-ounce drafts, $3 imported drafts and $3 well drinks. For non-drinkers, Hash House’s signature Kiwi Watermelon Lemonade, featured in the show, will be available for only $1 and the first 50 people to arrive at the event will get their first drink free. Attendees can also enjoy complimentary big food appetizers including meatloaf sandwich skewers; mini double stack ham, egg and cheese burgers; mini chicken and waffle bites. Raffle drawings will be held throughout the evening where guests have the opportunity to win a variety of prizes including concert tickets and a $100 gift card to Hash House A Go Go.

“Man v. Food,” airs August 12 at 10 p.m. on the Travel Channel, following host Adam Richman as he travels the country in search of restaurants that serve the biggest and best local meals. After seeking out each city’s top culinary destinations, Richman puts his appetite to work and attempts to conquer the toughest food challenges.

Apparently, Richman, who also experienced eating the bodacious six-pound, two-foot long Big Badass Burrito [prior Las Vegas Backstage Access article] offered by the NASCAR Cafe in Las Vegas on the episode, is really hooked on the Hash House after he devoured the fried chicken eggs Benedict- grilled mash, fried pasta, buttermilk biscuit, tomatoes, spinach, bacon, half-pound fried chicken breast, scrambled eggs, grilled cheese and chipotle sauce.  Talk about a Tum’s moment!

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Treasure Island in Las Vegas Prepares to Open Khotan Pan-Asian Restaurant with Pizzazz

Treasure Island will add Khotan to its fine-dining options beginning August 10, featuring Pan-Asian cuisine, outdoor seating with views of the Strip and Sirens Cove, and ultra-chic indoor dining nooks accomodating parties of  2 to 20. Their menu offers delectable entrees influenced by Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Indonesian traditional and contemporary cuisine.

Khotan, which means “City of Jade,” will also reporteldy contain the largest collection of jade and ivory antiquities in the United States. On loan from Treasure Island Owner Phil Ruffin’s private collection, the 20-plus pieces will include two five-foot hand-carved jade jars and a 35,000-year-old ivory tusk elegantly adorned with an intricately designed Asian village.

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Classic 50’s Diner Opens in Las Vegas

A local man who says retirement was driving him crazy admits he may be even crazier to open a new restaurant in the middle of a recession. But after resurrecting the old Huntridge Diner, he’s just hoping the retro restaurant’s colorful past will help it survive long enough to have a future. 

It’s 50’s and 60’s decor, music, and milkshakes are definitely a blast from the past. If the historic Huntridge Diner can hang on long enough, it’s future could be as bright and shiny as its new facelift. 

Just like the music, the old-fashioned milkshake machines are shaking again and the burgers, ground from fresh round daily, are sizzling on the grill. “I make everything the moment they ask for it,” said Chef Moses Cruz. 

The historic diner, located inside the old Huntridge Drugstore at east Charleston and Maryland Parkway is back in business, much to the delight of old time Las Vegans like Mayor Oscar Goodman and young new regulars like Chris Turner — who can spot a good thing even if he wasn’t even born yet the first time it came around. “It looks like it would have 50 years ago. It’s cool,” he said. 

“This fountain behind me is 40-years-old. You just don’t see places like these anymore,” said restaurant operator Joel Holffman. 

Its bright red booths, shiny counter tops and freshly painted walls are adorned with 50’s and 60’s memorabilia. In fact, Hoffman says all that’s missing here is a steady stream of customers. “It’s frustrating! If the place was dirty, I could understand it. Or if the food wasn’t good, I could understand it,” he said. “Our prices — $6.95 for a fresh grilled hamburger or philly steak, fries and a soda.” 

But like the historic Huntridge Theater directly across the street, which remains closed for now, the Huntride Diner went out of business for a while as well. “I remember going to the Huntridge next door when it was a movie theater. I saw Woodstock there. Wow, that was 40 years ago,” said customer Brian Babbitt. 

Hoffman wonders if folks, like long-time resident Brian Babbitt, just haven’t realized the historic restaurant is back in business and better than ever. “If they come in once, they’ll be back,” he said. 

Hoffman says he only needs 50 customers a day to turn a profit. But right now he’s only averaging 10 to 12. He says word of mouth will have to start traveling faster if the restaurant is going to survive the recession.

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Hard Rock to Open New Café in Las Vegas

Hard Rock International will open a new 41,000-square foot flagship cafe in Las Vegas. The new Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas will be located on the Las Vegas Strip, dominating the new Showcase Mall development. The existing, smaller Las Vegas cafe located on Paradise Road at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino should benefit from the increased development in the area, including the planned expansion of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino complex.

“The Las Vegas Strip location can best be compared to New York when we moved the Hard Rock Cafe New York from 57th Street to Times Square, where we have tripled sales, and Boston, where we recently relocated the cafe to the Fanueil Hall area and enjoyed incredible success,” said Hamish Dodds, president and CEO, Hard Rock International. “Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world, and there is no better location than our new home on ‘The Strip.'”

Scheduled to open in summer 2009, the new Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas plans to be one of the city’s premier dining and entertainment destinations, with three floors and more than 41,000-square feet of space, including a 700-seat restaurant, live concert venue and Hard Rock’s largest Rock Shop. In addition to a state-of-the-art facility, the cafe will also feature rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia from Hard Rock’s unmatched collection. The Showcase Mall Phase III is being developed by City Center Retail, LLC, a San Francisco-based development company, and Angelo Gordon & Co., a New York-based investment firm.

As guests approach the new Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas, the first sight to grab their attention will be a larger-than-life guitar on the exterior of the building, reaching more than three stories tall. Upon entry, the first level of the new Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas will include a 3,364-square-foot Rock Shop featuring the brand’s iconic merchandise. The second level will boast a rockin’ bar and main dining area with more than 7,000-square-feet of space, as well as a 1,642-square-foot outdoor dining area with a deck overlooking the sights of the city. The third floor will include a live music area for concerts and special events, and will also be used for banquets, corporate events and more, and another main bar area.

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MGM’s CityCenter in Las Vegas Announces Huge Retail Lineup

CrystalsCityCenter, the multi-use development opening later this year on the Las Vegas Strip, announced a collection of unique luxury retailers and restaurateurs that will join the lineup at Crystals, a 500,000 square-foot retail and dining district.

Planned to open December 3, Crystals will showcase a large and varied array of the world’s most exclusive retailers including many flagship stores.  For many of these brands, the Crystals’ location will represent their largest business in Las Vegas, the United States, or in some cases, the world.

Large-format luxury retailers that are planning to establish Crystals as a preeminent international shopping destination include Prada, Christian Dior, Bulgari, Carolina Herrera, Hermes, Roberto Cavalli, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Versace. These brands will join previously announced retailers Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. and Ermenegildo Zegna. 

Unique-to-the-market retailers opening their first locations in Las Vegas include Tom Ford,  Assouline, Kiton, Miu Miu, Paul Smith and Porsche Design, along with the previously announced de Grisogono, H. Stern, Marni, Boutique Tourbillon and Mikimoto.  Restaurants opening their first Las Vegas locations at Crystals include Eva Longoria Parker’s Beso and Mastro’s Ocean Club Seafood House.  These upscale restaurants will join an exciting new Pub concept by Todd English and two previously announced new concepts by Wolfgang Puck.

Other prestigious retailers joining Crystals’ lineup include Bally, Emilio Pucci and Ilori.  Additionally, Dale Chihuly will introduce a stunning new gallery.

The Taubman Company, the world’s leading developer of upscale shopping centers, is responsible for the leasing of Crystals.

 “We’ve assembled an extraordinary collection of retailers and restaurateurs to make Crystals one of the world’s most unique shopping and entertainment districts when it opens this December,” said Frank Visconti, president of retail for CityCenter.  “Crystals will delight guests with its unique architecture, awe-inspiring interior design, brilliant art and intriguing water features.  These experiential offerings, coupled with exclusive items from the industry’s most celebrated brands, will make Crystals a premier social and cultural environment in the heart of CityCenter.”

An architectural achievement that integrates the talents of world-renowned artists, architects and designers, CityCenter plans to attract visitors from around the world, being a landmark for global taste and style.  In addition to Crystals, CityCenter will feature ARIA Resort & Casino, a 4,004-room gaming resort; three luxurious non-gaming hotels including Las Vegas’ first Mandarin Oriental, Vdara Hotel and The Harmon (slated to open in late 2010); Veer Towers, the development’s only strictly residential buildings; and a Fine Art Collection. 

Mandarin Oriental, Vdara and Veer Towers will include approximately 2,400 residences.

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Eva Langoria Parker & Todd English – – Hungry in Las Vegas

Eva Langoria Parker of “Desperate Housewifes” fame and star chef Todd English are teaming up on a Latin-themed steakhouse planned for the new CityCenter in Las Vegas.  ToddEnglish

The restaurant will be a spinoff from Beso in Hollywood and is planned to open later this year when the CityCenter opens.  Jonas Lawrence, formerly of Rokbar in Miami, is the managing partner for the celebrity venture. 

English, whose Boston-based Olives restaurant chain includes an eatery at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, will feature his Latin take on flatbreads, along with yummy tacos and chili-rubbed steak.  He also is planning a British pub at CityCenter. 

Langoria Parker will contribute her guacamole recipe and tortilla soup to the menu. 

Though not officially confirmed, there is talk that Victoria Beckham, wife of British soccer star David Beckham, will also be a partner in the venture.

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Date Nite Takes the Worry off your Wallet

For a welcome break from quick, penny-pinching meals on the run, how does Robata Grilled Quail, Marinated Japanese Snapper with Black Grapes and Celery, Frittelle di Proscuitto, Pan Roasted Salmon, 18-Hour Braised Short Rib au Daube or Seared Hanger Steak sound for your scrumptious dinner tonight? 

Now what if we said you could get the appetizer, entrée, and dessert at world renowned high class restaurants in Las Vegas for only $40 per person? 

The Palazzo and The Venetian in Las Vegas have created a unique restaurant stimulus package that will satisfy your appetite without breaking the bank. Starting on March 25, Date Nite will be introduced as select fine-dining restaurants within both properties and feature exquisite and delicious pre fixe menus at a cost of only $40 per person. 

Each participating restaurant has unique appetizing pre fixe menus planned for Date Nite guests.  At The Palazzo, you can enjoy Charlie Trotter’s Bar Charlie, Mario Batali’s Carnevino, Dos Caminos, Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro, and SUSHISAMBA.  At The Venetian, the selection of restaurants include Mario Batali’s Enoteca San Marco and Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio. Additionally, Double Helix Wine Bar at The Shoppes at The Palazzo will be offering a specially priced glass of wine during Date Nite. 

And Date Nite doesn’t have to end with dinner.  The Palazzo and The Venetian are pulling out all the stops to provide more options for affordable luxury.  With the money saved, you can treat your guest a remarkable show, indulge in luxurious spa treatments from Canyon Ranch SpaClub®, or purchase something unique from 60 + lavish boutiques at The Shoppes at The Palazzo.  

Date Nite will begin Wednesday, March 25, 2009 and run through Friday, April 24, 2009 with pre fixe menus available Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday only. Each menu is $40 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Additional charges may be applied for beverages or wine pairings.  To view the prix fixe menus at each restaurant, please visit www.palazzolasvegas.com and www.venetian.com. Guests must make a reservation, in order to be eligible for Date Nite. For reservations, please call the restaurant directly or The Palazzo at 702.607.7777 or The Venetian at 702.414.1000 and you will be connected to the restaurant of your choice.  Do it for love!  Do it for less!

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MGM Grand’s L’Atelier de Joel Robucho Restaurant Garners Multiple Culinary Awards

L’Atelier de Joel Robucho located at the MGM Grand Hotel has been recognized with a AAA Four Diamond Award, a 2009 Michelin Star, and a 2008 Wine Spectacular Award of Excellence.  Unlike most fine dining restaurants, the lateliercounter service design allows diners the chance to see the food being prepared while enjoying a variety of tasty entrees. 

In 2008, Chef Joël Robucho was recognized as the ‘most starred’ chef with a total of 18 Michelin stars awarded to his restaurants in Tokyo, Paris, Monte Carlo, London and Las Vegas.  

But even before this latest round of accolades, Robucho was renowned for his culinary excellence.  When Robucho was 36, he opened a restaurant in Paris and only three years later received his first Michelin guide three-star award.   He has been acknowledged as one of the chef’s who put an end to the pretentious and pricey menu’s that had become common place in most high end restaurants.  His skill in the kitchen earned him the title of “chef of the century” in 1990 by the Gualt-Millau,  After a brief hiatus from the dining world in the mid-90’s, Robucho rejoined the culinary world with interests in a variety of restaurants located worldwide.  

“A good dish”, Robucho says, “is like a good wine has a strong attack and a long finish.  Now days, a lot of dishes have a strong attack, but a while later you can’t even remember what it was you ate!” 

This isn’t a problem at the L’Atelier Las Vegas.  Their signature dishes include Pommes Puree (mashed potatoes), La Caille au Foie Gras (free-range quail stuffed with foie gras) and Le Rumsteak en Tartare et ses Frites a L’ancienne (steak tartar). 

The dress code is business casual; the prices have earned L’Atelier a ranking on a number of  ‘most expensive dining’  lists.    Currently the MGM Grand has several online offers that include discounts at on-site restaurants including 30% off for Mastercard purchase and room/gift card discounts.

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Bobby Flay’s Restaurants in Lawsuit: Employees Allege Wage Cheating

A new lawsuit accuses some of celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s restaurants of cheating workers.bobbyflay

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court by current and former employees, names as a defendant Bold Food LLC. The company owns or operates Bar American and Mesa Grill NYC in Manhattan.  Another restaurant is in Atlantic City.

Bobby Flay’s Bold Food LLC also owns the Mesa Grill in Las Vegas. 

The lawsuit claims Flay’s company violated the wage and hour laws by engaging in improper tip-pooling practices. It also says the company failed to pay proper overtime pay and failed to reimburse employees for some expenses.

It’s one of a string of similar lawsuits filed on behalf of employees of New York restaurants.  No management comment provided if more lawsuits in other locations will be forthcoming.

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