Tag Archives: Top Chef

M Resort Spa Casino Hosts Inaugural Italian Festival in Las Vegas

The M Resort Spa Casino is continuing their “foodie” tradition by bringing back a Las Vegas favorite.  After serving as the setting for the 2009 season of Bravo’s Top Chef,  the Marnell family, M Resort owners, are hosting their Italian Festival poolside at the Villagio Del Sole.   The event is scheduled for October 17 and 18th from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.   Admission is free. 

The first Italian Festival was held 17 years ago at the Marnell family’s Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino.  It quickly became a locals’ favorite, bringing thousands of people to the Rio’s two-day event.  

“I’m looking forward to starting a new tradition with it [The Italian Festival] here at the M…I hope people bring their whole family and enjoy great Italian food and entertainment in an unbelievable setting,” said Anthony Marnell III, Chairman and CEO of the M Resort Casino Spa. 

Guests at the Italian Festival will be able to sample calzones, pizza and more prepared by local restaurants as well as the M Resort’s own world renowned chefs.  There will be Bocce tournaments and grape stomping and spaghetti eating contests.  But if nothing else, the trip to the Henderson hotel would be worth it just to sample the dessert table – stacked high with cheesecake, biscotti, Italian ices, cannoli and spumoni.

Leave a comment

Filed under entertainment, food, Las Vegas, news, Uncategorized

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

Leave a comment

Filed under entertainment, food, Las Vegas, news, Uncategorized

Top Chef Filming in Las Vegas?

If the Tweets on Twitter are to be believed, the sixth season of Bravo TV’s Top Chef has reportedly begun filming on location in Las Vegas.  top-chef And apparently Los Angeles Times reporters are believers too, saying that filming for Season Six will begin today.

Las Vegas has already been an integral part of Top Chef history. The Season One finale took place at the MGM Grand and most of the season’s shows have found Las Vegas chef’s represented in the kitchen including Season One runner up Tiffani Faison, Season Two runner up Marcel Vigneron, Season Three winner  Hung Huynh, and Season Five chef Eugene “Gene” Villiatora.   

Althought the host site has not been officially named, the newly opened M Resort in Henderson, Nevada is rumored to be the site of the chef-on-chef competition.  

Other reports have Top Chef filming in Seattle, Washington.  However, it’s possible that both stories are true.  Bravo TV has announced both a “Top Chef Junior” and “Top Chef Master” series – spin-offs of the original TV show that targets a different caliber of culinary king and viewer. 

“Top Chef Master” will begin airing June 10 and will feature 24 prominent Las Vegas chefs, including Hubert Keller, Rick Moonen, Roy Yamaguchi and Ludo Lefebvre.

Keller has Fleur de Lys restaurants in San Francisco, his home, and at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas; Moonen co-owns rick Moonen’s RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay; Yamaguchi has two Roy’s Restaurants in Las Vegas and Lefebvre recently left Lavo at The Palazzo in Las Vegas to open Ludo Bites in Los Angeles.

Stay tuned to Las Vegas Backstage Access for more Top Chef details.

Leave a comment

Filed under entertainment, food, Las Vegas, news, Uncategorized

Top Las Vegas Chefs Sharpen Knifes, Battle for James Beard Awards

For culinary chefs it’s a big deal- and a huge honor.  Top Las Vegas semifinal chef nominees are now vying for the coveted James Beard Awards.   Wynn Las Vegas chef Paul Bartolotta is on track for a rare double James Beard award win for best chef and is competing against Claude Le Tohic of Joel Robuchon at the Mansion at the MGM Grand.  Raku is trying for best new restaurant; rising star chef of the year, Vanessa Garcia, Restaurant Charlie, at the Palazzo; rising star chef of the year, Sarah Kosilkowski, Michael Mina at Bellagio; and best chef, Saipin Chutima, Lotus of Siam, round out the Las Vegas competitors. 

The winners will be announced the first week of May in New York City.

Leave a comment

Filed under food, Las Vegas, news, Uncategorized

Kudos to Las Vegas Top Chef Eugene “Gene” Villiatora

eugene1Las Vegas chef Eugene “Gene” Villiatora was eliminated, sadly, from the “Top Chef: Season 5” episode that aired on January 7.  Villiatora, originally from Hawaii, served up Whole Red Snapper with Daikon Fettucini, in an episode that introduced Toby Young as a member of the judges table.  Young, restaurant critic of the Evening Standard magazine, replaced the recently married Gail Simmons.

Villiatora made it to the half-way point of the New York- based competition and was routinely praised for making an effort to offer dishes that weren’t mainstream.  On Chef Tom Colicchio’s BravoTV blog he said, “…what was nice to see was his willingness to take risks and push the envelope.”

Leave a comment

Filed under food, Las Vegas, travel, Uncategorized