Monday, November 8, 2010

Food & Wine All-Star Weekend hosted by Gail Simmons brings out the Top Chefs for 4 days of Food , Wine and Cocktails in Las Vegas at the Bellagio and Aria Resorts

Once again Las Vegas takes center stage when it comes to Food and Wine. FOOD& WINE Magazine came to town for  an All-Star Weekend and Cast hosted by none other than Gail Simmons.

The “FOOD WINE All-Star Weekend brings together all of the elements that make Las Vegas a top epicurean destination: talented chefs and wine experts, world-class luxury resorts; and lavish dining experiences at some of the leading restaurants in the country,” said FOOD &WINE VP/Publisher Christina Grdovic. "We are thrilled to partner with MGM Resorts International on this dynamic event.”

“Bellagio is known around the globe for its extraordinary dining and hospitality,” Chief Marketing Officer of MGM Resorts International Bill Hornbuckle said. “ARIA and Vdara at CityCenter, the hottest new destinations in Las Vegas, opened late last year and are wowing visitors each day with their remarkable accommodations and food and beverage offerings. We’re thrilled to partner with Food & Wine to create an event that couples the best of all of our brands and provides visitors with an unrivaled epicurean experience.”

The celebrity chef-filled weekend included events featuring Bravo’s Top Chef cheftestants Fabio Viviani, Carla Hall, Jennifer Carroll, Hosea Rosenberg and Stephen Hopcraft, Top Chef Masters Rick Moonen and Hubert Keller and FOOD &WINE Best New Chef Vinny Dotolo

Kick-off party was  hosted by Gail Simmons, Anthony Giglio and Fabio Viviani at Bar Vdara, featuring a star-studded lineup of celebrity chefs and Top Chef Alumni and music from DJ Bree Cohen aka DJ88. The evening then progressed to the  Deuce After Dark: After-party featuring Gail Simmons chefs Shawn McClain, Julian Serrano, Rick Moonen, Jean-Philippe Maury, Fabio Viviani, Carla Hall, Jennifer Carroll, Hosea Rosenberg, Vinny Dotolo and Stephen Hopcraft each hosting their own blackjack tables at ARIA’s Deuce Lounge.

Elaine Harris and Gail Simmons

 At the Luxe Lunch guests  enjoyed a three-course lunch, prepared before them by Bellagio chefs Marc St. Jacques of MICHAEL MINA and Pastry Chef Philippe Angibeau of Le Cirque as well as Top Chef fan favorite Fabio Viviani. Hosted at Bellagio’s Tuscany Kitchen by Gail Simmons and Bellagio's  Director of Wine, Jason Smith, M.S. who paired each course with  wine.

FOOD & WINE Contributing Editor and Wine Expert Anthony Giglio teamed up to  host a cocktail seminar in the afternoon  at ARIA’s Café Vettro featuring fare from award-winning Bellagio and ARIA Chef Julian Serrano.

The much anticipated  Main event  was All-Star Tasting poolside at ARIA featuring Bravo’s Top Cheftestants and showcasing the signature restaurants of ARIA: Jean Georges Steakhouse, AMERICAN FISH, Sirio Ristorante, Julian Serrano, Bar Masa and Sage.

Many of ARIA’s award-winning chefs and restaurateurs were in attendance including Masa Takayama, Shawn McClain, Jean-Philippe Maury and Sirio Maccioni as well.

The ARIA Resort's pool provided a beautiful venue for guests to stroll around and enjoy great dishes from these celebrity chefs. Looking up into a clear evening sky  , the ARIA and its next door cousin VDARA  seemed to join up with the stars as they glistened brightly above us.

Chef Jennifer Carroll

Of course you cant have an event like this with out some Champagne to get things started off right.  The first stop of the evening was at Nicolas Feuillatte to enjoy Nicolas Feuillatte Brut and the Rose as well. It was now time to start our culinary "walkabout" with these celebrity chefs and we knew right where we were going to start.

Jennifer Carroll Spanish Rock Octopus

Top Chef contestant who went very far in the competition Chef Jennifer Carroll is now at 10 Arts Bistro & Lounge by Eric Ripert. She was all smiles and serving her Spanish Rock Octopus
Eggplant , Chickpeas and Lemon that we feel was one of our top picks of the night.

Jean-Philippe Maury  of his namesake Patisserie in Las Vegas was pool side as well and had guests coming back again and again for his
Cream Filled Beignet, Greek Yogurt Pannacotta , Farmers Market Strawberry and his very decadent Intense Dark Chocolate Cream, Coffee Emulsion , Dark Chocolate Pearl.

Jean-Philippe Maury Cream Filled Beignet

BARMASA has always been a favorite stop of ours when we are in the ARIA. We just had stop by and see what Chef Masayoshi Takayama had for us to enjoy.  His Peking Duck , with Foie Gras in Moo-Shu Skin  and Toro Mizore showed us why we enjoy stopping in so often. Next  to BARMASA in the ARIA you will find  Chef Shawn McClain's SAGE. This amazing young Chef was serving a delicious  Dungeness Crab , Cauliflower Panna Cotta , Taylor Gold Pears and Orange Chili Pearls and a 48 Hour Beef Belly , Smoked Potato Puree, Horseradish Gremolata, Fennel that was another stand out of the evening.

Chef Carla Hall, Vegetable Tagine

Chef Carla Hall came all the way from her Washington DC restaurant Alchemy to show off her artistry to the guests.  Chef Carla's Vegetable Tagine with Za 'tar Pita Points provided us with a delightful , interesting dish that was one of the most creative we have seen.

For the Carnivores amongst the guests strolling around the pool, Chef Jordan Hoffman of Union was worth a visit.   Chef Jordan's Wood Grilled 30 Day Dry Aged Porterhouse  Steak with Green Peppercorn sauce and his Crispy BBQ Pork Belly, Grilled Flat Bread , House-made Pickles, Vinegar Mustard sauce made many very happy.

With all of these great Chefs around it was easy just to indulge in their great dishes they were eagerly serving, But wait  !  there was much more. Cocktails were being served as well.  Courvoisier is name that needs no further explanation.  Their mixologists were creating the classic Sidecar and Courvoisier Ginger that were very refreshing. In addition to Courvoisier one could also enjoy a Maker's Mark Manhattan a Patron Silver Savory Paloma and could even visit the Patron Muddle Your Own Mojito Bar for those who enjoy a more hands on experience.

Chef Sven Mede at Michale Mina's American Fish set the bar pretty high with a lovely Ocean Water Poached Ruby Red Shrimp , Sea Beans , Shiso , Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette and some very interesting Hudson Valley Foie Gras "Poppers", Brioche , Plum Gelee.

One of our last stops on our culinary stroll was to visit Chef Hosea Rosenberg of strEat Chefs in Boulder Colorado. We are always a little  weary of Pork Bellys but her Pork Belly with Pomegranate and Brussels Sprouts did not disappoint .

A weekend like this should finish on a high note. A  Champagne  Caviar Brunch was just they way to do it.  The weekend came to a close with a lavish brunch set against the backdrop of the breathtaking Fountains of Bellagio. Guest host Anthony Giglio presented a specialty Bloody Mary Bar and Fabio Viviani  put a modern spin on the classic egg sandwich to send the guests on their way on a beautiful Sunday Morning in Las Vegas.

The Bellagio , Aria and Vdara Resorts  along with FOOD&WINE  put on a weekend that any foodie and wine lover would salivate over.  Hosted by the very gracious Gail Simmons , this inaugural event shows once more that Las Vegas has taken its place among the world's greatest culinary cities.

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