Friday, July 22, 2011


Our good friends at BRAVO has just let us know who we will be seeing  in the upcoming season  with  Bravo's series, “Top Chef Just Desserts"   when it returns for a second season on Wednesday, August 24 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. 14 pastry chefs will see if they have what it takes to out bake, out blend and out brulee the competition where the main focus is the Achilles heel of most chefs: desserts. Gail Simmons returns as the host of this highly competitive series showcasing the best of the best in the world of pastry arts. Once again joining the judges' panel as head judge is Johnny Iuzzini, one of the country’s most celebrated and innovative pastry chefs and Executive Pastry Chef at Restaurant Jean Georges. Hubert Keller, critically acclaimed chef as well as guest judge on "Top Chef" and finalist on "Top Chef Masters," and Dannielle Kyrillos, entertaining expert and Contributing Editor of Food Republic will also serve as regular judges for the series.

"Top Chef Just Desserts" features 14 chef'testants who will be whittled down week by week as they compete to out-bake their competition. The winning chef will receive $100,000 furnished by KitchenAid, a feature in Food & Wine magazine and a showcase at the Annual Food & Wine Cayman Cookout. The chefs must face off in some of the most difficult and creative challenges we’ve seen thus far – from fairytale showpieces and edible room décor to high-class gingerbread houses and carnival delights – all while serving up these treats to some celebrity guest judges including: Beastie Boys’ Adam “Ad Rock” Horovitz, The Cast of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, Renowned Pastry Chef Francois Payard and Acclaimed Chef Cat Cora among many other culinary legends.

The series offers a fascinating window into the competitive, pressure-filled environment of pastry chefs at the highest level. Each episode holds two challenges for the pastry chefs: the first, a quickfire test of their basic abilities and the elimination challenge designed to test the versatility and inventiveness of the pastry chefs. These chefs will prove that a little sugar and spice never tasted so nice.

Now lets meet the  14 new "Top Chef Just Desserts" chef'testants:

- Amanda Rockman, 29 – Hometown: Katy, Texas – Resides in Chicago, Ill.

- Carlos Enriquez, 33 – Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif. –Resides in Las Vegas, Nev.

- Chris Hanmer, 33 – Hometown: Costa Mesa, Calif. – Resides in Las Vegas, Nev.

- Craig Poirier, 25 – Hometown: Derry, N.H. - Resides in Las Vegas, Nev.

- Katzie Guy-Hamilton, 24 – Hometown: Worcester, Mass. - Resides in New York, N.Y.

- Lina Biancamano, 37 – Hometown: Phoenix, Ariz. - Resides in Fort Worth, Texas

- Matthew Petersen, 32 – Hometown: Dublin, Pa. - Resides in Arlington, Va.

- Megan Ketover, 31 – Hometown/ Resides In: Cincinnati, Ohio

- Melissa Camacho, 30 – Hometown: Port-au-Prince, Haiti – Resides in New York , N.Y.

- Nelson Paz, 33 – Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina - Resides in Boston, Mass.

- Orlando Santos, 32 – Hometown: St. Croix, US Virgin Islands - Resides in Pittsburgh, Pa.

- Rebecca Masson, 39 – Hometown: Laramie, Wyo. –Resides in Houston, Texas

- Sally Camacho, 31 – Hometown/ Resides In: Los Angeles, Calif.

- Vanarin Kuch, 26 – Hometown/ Resides In: Houston, Texas

We cannot wait and our sweet tooth's are ready for the highly anticipated second season ! And for a Las Vegas local touch , two contestants hailing from Holsteins Shakes and Buns at The Cosmopolitan will be competing ! Viewers will see Carlos Enriquez, Corporate Pastry Chef of Block16 Hospitality (Holsteins’ parent company) and Craig Poirier, Pastry Cook at Holsteins. It is no surprise that Las Vegas is well represented.

Epicurean Epicenter Event at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas serves up fireworks in the kitchen on their Fourth of July Weekend Barbeque.

Many had the great pleasure of celebrating the joys of being a good Yankee Doodle Dandy by having some Dandy delectable dishes during the Bellagio Barbeque secrets and beer too event.  The Saturday proceeding our Nation’s greatest patriotic holiday was kicked off by Chef Edmund Wong, Bellagio’s  executive chef, Jason Smith, Director of Wine and Master Sommelier, and Matt Myers assistant Director of Beverage and Master Mixologist.

With one of Las Vegas’s best food and beverage teams on hand, everyone was sure to be sent off into the weekend with a big culinary” bang”.  Chef Wong kept the food in the tradition he is most noted for; fresh and simple, using fresh ingredients, some grown in the hotel’s own garden, but with great elegance.  Of course, our liquid refreshment was taken care of with world class beers perfectly paired by the skillful Jason Smith MS, and Matt Myers.   

Master Mixologist Matt Meyers

This event was not your Grandmother’s BBQ.  In fact, Grandma would probably shake her head in amazement at this culinary throw down.  Chef Wong oversees all culinary operations of the Bellagio, so guests were in very capable hands as he took the helm on a sunny July afternoon and demonstrated how to prepare each dish.

As guests came to the incredible venue of the Tuscany studio kitchen all were handed a delightful cocktail to get the “fireworks ignited” to kick off a spectacular culinary event.  Of course, the popcorn machine, placed outside the door reminded our Nations favorite pastime, baseball, and of course good hearted fun

  The hostess handed everyone a delightful bag of freshly popped corn accompanied by the Bellagio Fountains Shandy cocktail, composed of Bombay Sapphire, Yuzu, and Kaffir Lime.  If you wanted to go right into the beer menu, a Stella Artois was also available to sip as we waited for the doors to open.
Executive Chef Edmund Wong

We were escorted into the gorgeous Tuscany kitchen, an amazing gourmet kitchen where patrons could view the cooking demonstration from the patriotically decorated tables, with their long white linen table’s cloths, and fine dishware that would lend to family style dining. Placed on each table were mounds of delightfully fresh hot biscuits, seasonal honey, olive tapenades with Flat Breads and of course, good old butter and gravy. 

 Chef Wong took the stage and did not waste anytime in getting the  first dish started. And what a way to start!



Fancy Zucchini , Fingerling Potatoe, Burrata Blossoms and Roasted Corn Vinaigrette

Maine Lobster Bake

New Belgium Summersault Ale, Ft Collins Colorado

The Lobster of course was cooked to perfection with layers of flavors teasing our palates. Summersault Ale paired perfectly with soft flavors of the dish. Moving on to the Trio of Entrees , Chef Wong hit his stride with entrees that showed his expertise and imagination.



Waffles , Maple Butter


Jalapeño Citrus Vinaigrette


Goat Cheese, Apricot “Souffle”
Crispy Chicken & Waffles, Boneless Pork Rib , Prime Dry Aged Rib Eye
 The Crispy Chicken and Waffles with lovely sweet and savory flavors took many from the South on a journey back to their childhood culinary experiences. The robust Bonless Pork rib with a spicy Jalapeno Citrus Vinaigrette provided a party for all the senses to enjoy.  To finish off this Trio from heaven, Chef Wong spared nothing by plating a Prime Dry-Aged Rib Eye that jumped with flavors of perfection. And to make it feel like a real BBQ  with Family style sides of classic favorites.  The Bellagio never does anything half way and this event was no exception. Matt Meyers , Master Mixlogist set the bar pretty high and paired this Trio of Entrees with a Trio of amazing beers from Japan that became a perfect pairing with each entrée.


Red River Ale , Real Ginger Brew , Commemorative Ale 2011  Ibaraki, Japan


English Peas and Carrots

Macaroni and Cheese

Pickled Beets and Cucumbers

Grilled Stone Fruit Tomatoes

Just when you thought things could not get any better, they did , with a parade of desserts featuring Blueberry pie and Ice cream sandwiches paired with a very adult Root Beer Float.




Averna Amaro , Pimms No. 1 Navan Espuma

Xingu Black Beer , Sao Paulo Brazil
Ice Cream Sandwiches

Blueberry Pie

The Epicurean Epicenter culinary series at the Bellagio is a one of a kind series that takes attendees on many culinary and beverage journeys throughout the year. 

Where else can you attend an event at a World Class resort, dine in an intimate setting with dishes created right in front of you by a world class Chef, meet renowned winemakers or enjoy world class beers in a state of the art studio kitchen but in Las Vegas at the Bellagio Resort.  These events are limited and sell out quickly . To find out more about upcoming events in this series please visit .

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rosemarys Restaurant closes and ends an era of Gourmet Dining off the Strip in Las Vegas, Thanks for the Memories

Las Vegas suffered yet another tremendous loss with the closing of Rosemary's Restaurant. This piece will be difficult at times to write. As journalists we try not to let emotion and opinion creep into our writing , but this is very personal and we feel we have suffered the loss of a great friend. We have received many emails and phone calls from as far away as New York and esteemed winemakers from California saying " Please say its not so " . But sadly it is.

Rosemary's Restaurant was a one of a kind and an icon off the strip for 14 years. We personally have celebrated Anniversary's , birthdays , Holidays , Artist receptions , Wine and Beer dinners and sent a son off too Iraq and brought him safely home with Chef Michael Jordan and his staff at our table side. We have had countess great times and as we prepared for theCourt of Masters Exam did blind wine tastings all with this very good friend. The servers were not just servers and bartenders not just bartenders but friends for years. We have shared our lives with them and them with us. Rosemary's was not just your ordinary restaurant but a very special place where we knew our good friend would take care of us year after year, with consistency.

Our last visit was a typical one. We were greeted with the effervescent smile of the hostess, "good evening Mr and Mrs Harris we have your table ready to go " . Walked by the standing room only Bar with all the "usual" gang that we have seen there for years and seated at "our table " . The always pleasing Shannon and Michael Jones " Mr Jones " waving from the bar and getting ready to pour our usual Bombay Sapphire Dirty Martinis . Server after server would stop by just for a quick "hello, how are you Mr Harris , Mrs Harris ? " even though we were not in their section and we have told them for years to please call us by our first names. Chef Michael would stop by to say hello and then back to the kitchen to create some of the best dishes Las Vegas had to offer on and off the strip.

Yes, Rosemary's is closed and will never be forgotten by us. It was the last of the "TRUE" gourmet restaurants complete with linen table cloths and simultaneous service not to be found too many places off the strip. We are in mourning not just for us but for Las Vegas as well. The days of the gourmet fine dining restaurants off the strip are over and being replaced by chain restaurants with questionable service and mediocre food at best.

Good Bye to our good friend and best of luck to Chefs Michael and Wendy Jordan and thank you for the years of great dishes and most of all Thanks for the Memories.