Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The 2013 World Food Championships bring the best of the best in food sport competition to Las Vegas .


Las Vegas is home to many “Championships” from Boxing to Poker and everything imaginable you can think of.  Yet another Championship calls Las Vegas its home. The World Food Championships with $300,000 at stake for the winners,  is a newcomer to the list of Vegas Championships.This true world class event has grown exponentially since its inception in 2012 and  is the highest stakes food competition in the world.

The World Food Championships attracts professional Chefs and home cooks from all over the world. The 2013 Championships had a very spirited team all the way from South Africa to see if they had what it takes to win it all.

The world’s best competed in barbecue,chil,burgers,dessert,sandwich,bacon,recipe and a chef challenge with the overall winner being named 2013 World Food Champion.
One may ask how do you judge such a prestigious event such as this one. First, judges were hand selected from the Food Network,celebrity chefs, food writers,and other experts in their respective culinary fields. Using the EAT methodology in a tournament style competition, the World Food Championships judges identified  winners in each of the seven key categories of competition. Once the champions of each category were determined they competed at the final table for the 2013 crown.


Over the last few years, the sport of competition food has grown into a multi-million dollar industry and can no longer be ignored. There are recipe challenges, barbecue festivals, chili cook-offs and the thousands of other food competitions that take place all over the world that have millions of hungry admirers and passionate cooks.
This year, more than 300 competitors and 20 food celebrities literally took over Downtown Las Vegas for a world class event like none other. After days of competition, Championship Sunday arrived with a very fun and educational culinary competition, “Flip-The-Bird” Thanksgiving Challenge.

On a cloudless morning the inaugural “Flip the Bird” Thanksgiving Challenge featured three renowned chefs,each asked to create a holiday meal with bison, in place of turkey, as the primary ingredient.

Competing chefs included Emily Ellyn, creator of the Retro Rad cooking movement, Giorgio Rapicavoli, founder and chef of Miami’s Eating House and Rick Giffen, executive chef of Stratosphere in Las Vegas.
After a very spirited competition, judges Josh Ozersky, Sam Hazen of NYC’s The Chester and Roberto Treviño, former participant on Iron Chef: America and The Next Iron Chef, determined the winner based on the taste, appearance and execution of each dish. The winner was Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli with  his three-course Thanksgiving meal, and was awarded a $2,000 check. His first course consisted of Roasted Pumpkin Bisque with Bison Sausage, Raw Pears, Pecans and Sage. His main dish featured Grilled Bison Ribeye with Charred Broccoli, Braised Cranberry and Yams, and he finished off with a dessert of Braised and Raw Apple with Bison Bacon Fat Streusel, Salted Caramel and Cinnamon.
“Until this weekend, I never associated bison with Thanksgiving, but that sure has changed,” said Chef Rapicavoli.  “As the first-ever ‘Flip the Bird’ Champion, I have a new appreciation for bison and recommend home cooks incorporate it into their favorite recipes. It’s a great addition to any holiday menu and will be a big hit among your guests.”

Bison was a very big deal at the  2013 World Food Championships. The winning chili dish from Ray Bogart featured bison tenderloin and the winning recipe dish from Beth Peterson was an Asian hot pot of bison tenderloin and homemade udon noodles. Who says Thanksgiving is just about the traditional Turkey.
The 2013 World Food Championships brought the world’s best to downtown Las Vegas to thousands of enthusiastic crowds.Having attended the event the last two years we have seen the positive growth of this one of a kind event. If 2013 is any indication, 2014 will be a weekend not to be overlooked.

Friday, November 15, 2013

La Cucina Italiana Food and Wine Festival at the Venetian / Palazzo Resorts promises Italian Culinary Excellence.

mario It’s that time of year again in Las Vegas.The lights on the famed strip seem to glow a little brighter, snow on the distant mountains, a nip in the air and The Venetian / Palazzo Resort’s month long Winter in Venice Celebration entertains visitors and locals alike.This year, the resort’s Vice President of Food and Beverage Sebastien Silversti  has a very special festival that brings the best of Italy to the picturesque property right in the center of the Las Vegas strip.

La Cucina Italiana Food & Wine Festival is a weekend celebrating Italian gastronomy  at its  finest .This tasty  weekend, held in conjunction with Southern Wine and Spirits of Nevada and La Cucina Italiana magazine, is part of The Venetian’s annual Winter in Venice holiday festival.
Chef Mario Batali, Cuisineist Editor-In-Chief Elaine Harris
Chef Mario Batali, Cuisineist Editor-In-Chief Elaine Harris
Visitors can enjoy four days of colorful events and mouthwatering culinary experiences, featuring a collaboration between some of the best Italian chefs and culinary celebrities, including, Iron Chef Mario Batali, Dario Cecchini, Chef Wolfgang Puck, Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro,Roberto Caporuscio,Anthony Giglio and Robin Leach.

This gastronomic throw down is for a good cause, a portion of ticket sales will benefit Keep Memory Alive supporting the mission of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. The weekend is a food and wine lovers delight. Why not enjoy Dinner with Wolfgang Puck at CUT, in the Palazzo Resort Thursday, December 5, 2013 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. This palate pleasing experience will team up Chef Wolfgang Puck and Dario Cecchini, the legendary Chianti “Butcher of Panzano,” as they prepare an intimate dinner for VIP guests, press and media. If you want a meal with personality, this is it. These renowned chefs are sure to delight guests, with lively stories and a carnivore’s dream dinner featuring Cecchini’s traditional Tuscan-style dishes.
For the ultimate dining experience The Grand Banquet is for you. This Italian experience of a life time will be held in the Grand Colonnade, at the Venetian Resort  Friday, December 6, 20137 p.m. – 11 p.m. Here you can enjoy the ultimate Italian feast as you sit down to a delicious dinner featuring new and old-world Italy, prepared by Mario Batali and Dario Cecchini, the legendary Chianti “Butcher of Panzano.”
The banquet will be served Tuscan-style in the Venetian Resort’s beautiful Grand Colonnade, and will include such delights as veal Carpaccio, 24-month Galardi prosciutto, risotto with white truffle, and aporchetta created by Cecchini that Chef Batali refers to as "the porchetta to end all porchettas."

"This format," says Chef Batali, "will conjure meals eaten in Italy, where banquets are spread out quite literally in the middle of a street. Though something you often find in a Tuscan or Umbrian village, it is a novelty in this country, especially in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip."
Each course will feature a world-class wine pairing by Carmelo Messina and Anthony Giglio. "Very few people have the opportunity to attend an event that so eloquently blends the finest Italian food with extraordinary vintages from renowned Italian wine producers."
This Italian extravaganza is about education as well. Stop into How to Italian , An Afternoon of Food & Fun at the  Palazzo Resort’s Waterfall Atrium, Saturday, December 7, 2013 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. This will be an excellent opportunity to experience Italy with an afternoon dedicated to learning about authentic Italy from the world’s greatest chefs and culinary celebrities. La Cucina Italiana magazine’s Anthony Giglio will be the master of ceremonies for an afternoon of fun and food. In a village-like setting, guests will taste some of the finest homemade Italian dishes while learning about authentic artisanal products.
Are you getting hungry yet?  Want to mingle with Celebrities? Visit Bella Notte , Hosted by none other than  Robin Leach at Doges Palace,  at the Venetian Saturday, December 7, 2013 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. “Bella Notte” celebrates Italian-Americans who have made a significant impact on the culture of the United States. Honorees and attendees will experience the fine Italian cuisine of visiting chefs from across the country, while enjoying fine entertainment under the stars.
 Truffles are nature’s gift of gold, their aromas and flavors are unmistakable. One event that we will not miss is The Great Venetian Truffle Hunt at Mario Batali’s B&B Ristorante, Carnevino and OTTO Sunday, December 8, 2013 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. What a great way to close a memorable weekend than hunt for truffles! Sponsored by Urbani Truffles, the truffle hunt takes place in Chef Batali’s three hotel restaurants. The day kicks off with breakfast, including Cipriani-style Bellinis and Italian coffee. Attendees will each receive half of a golden-colored truffle and, while they sample truffle dishes and paired wines at each venue, they’ll discover if their golden-colored truffle matches one of three hidden throughout the restaurants. The three winners will receive prizes and their names will be entered into a raffle for an once-in-a-lifetime trip to Italy to visit the famed La Cucina Italiana Cooking School.
The Venetian / Palazzo Resorts always do everything first class.  The La Cucina Italiana Food and Wine Festival is sure to be no exception to the rule. We can only look to a gastronomic weekend of excellence.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Venetian / Palazzo Resort have yet another star under its roof and this time is a family affair.

Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro , Cuisineist Editor Elaine Harris
Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro , Cuisineist Editor Elaine Harris
The Venetian / Palazzo Resort have yet another star under its roof and this time is a family affair. Renowned baker Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro opened his first restaurant with veteran restaurateurs Elizabeth Blau and Chef Kim Canteenwalla with a fabulous view of the Las Vegas strip.
Chef Kim Canteenwalla
Chef Kim Canteenwalla

Known for his family’s Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey, Buddy Valastro’s Buddy V’s offers up family recipes passed down by his mother, grandmother, aunts and siblings.
The décor made us feel warm and welcome as we we felt like we walked right into his family’s dining room. On our visit we actually did dine with Buddy’s very energetic, enthusiastic family and of course his lovely mother Mary. 
Sitting at the table with his family, is reminiscent of a Sunday dinner at his grandmother's house. The entrance features metal and glass inspired by the Lackawanna train station in Hoboken . The bar area is rustic with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the famed Las Vegas strip.

There is a real feeling of intimacy as we gazed around the walls  adored with  photographs of the Valastro family and light fixtures made  of whisks and hanging rolling pins as room dividers.
The cocktail list shows off libations  like a Negroni Biondo, Buddy V's Hobokon Sling and our favorite , Buddy’s own take on a Manhattan .For dinner, we highly suggest the Osso Bucco and the grilled Octopus, yes that’s right grilled!  and on this night it was cooked to perfection. For the Fini , Oh come on !  He’s the Cake Boss, pick anything and its going to be great.

We have stopped in on numerous occasions since the opening and found the dishes consistent and the service right on spot.
 Buddy , Elizabeth and Kim have a huge hit on their hands and the Venetian / Palazzo Resorts another tasty dining venue .