Wednesday, January 29, 2014

MTO Café Serves Up Fresh, Healthy Cuisine in Downtown Las Vegas .

It’s a Saturday morning and what shall we do?  take a hike ? take a drive to nearby Mt. Charleston and frolic in half melted snow and slush along with hundreds of our new best friends ? We think not! The final decision was made and we headed downtown to spend the day in many of its cool, chic venues infused by The Down Town Project.

In just a few short minutes we were walking down Fremont street and remembered quite a lot of buzz about MTO Café. We let our feet do the walking and arrived at our destination right across the street from City Hall.

The restaurant, accented by bright orange hues is open, airy and a flurry of energy in a laid back, California kind of way.  MTO is the creation of owners Ben Sabouri and Matt Moore of Shift Solutions, LLC.

 These two entrepreneurs created Shift Solutions two years ago and is a result of their love for the restaurant and hospitality industry. MTO is a venue where locals and visitors can mingle and enjoy a unique breakfast or lunch. 

The culinary vision comes from Chef-Partner Johnny Church of RM Seafood and Rx Boiler Room fame.  Chef takes a fresh new take on comfort food making “fast food” healthy and fresh.  

Manager Rudy and our lovely knowledgeable server Ashely took control as they guided us along our Saturday morning culinary adventure. Bloody Marys were in order and MTO’s version with Sake started us off in the right way.
Brussels Sprouts 

 A very tasty bowl of brussels sprouts in tart cranberry balsamic reduction is a very healthy way to start. The hen house wrap is a perfectly prepared organic chicken with  lettuce, roasted tomatoes and avocado, as well as a  creamy caesar dressing in a  tomato-basil wrap  is a delightfully palate pleasing deal at $11.00 .

The Hen House Wrap

A rich Grilled Cheese on brie with local honey, toasted walnuts, brioche and a side salad makes a simple lunch that reminds us of our childhood with a healthy spin for $11.00. MTO makes breakfast to order available as a wrap, omelet or skillet. 

Grilled Cheese on brie

The MTO breakfast features three eggs any style along with chicken sausage, turkey bacon, spam ,bacon, choice of wheat, wonder bread, rye or sourdough and mash browns all for $14.00.  Also to start your day, don’t miss the chicken "in a waffle” which really is a chicken in a waffle $13.00.

In the mood for a soup and salad?  MTO has that for you as well. Enjoy a choice of Tomato Basil with  grilled cheddar toast  or Baked Potato soup with cheddar, scallions and  bacon . And of course a classic French Onion with rich gruyere, parmesan, and provolone. Strawberry Fields salad with arugula, blue cheese, strawberries and red wine balsamic is a must.

When in Vegas enjoy the Fat Elvis . A french toast with banana, bacon, peanut butter, strawberries and nutella that any king is sure to enjoy. After a long night, stop in to MTO and dive into the Hangover Burger. A burger of pure enjoyment with bacon, fried egg, Tillamook cheddar, special sauce and fries will get you back on track to enjoy the rest of your day. For those with a sweet tooth the MTO mini donuts, fried apple rings or walnut tossies are sure to please.
MTO fried apple rings

MTO Café is a fresh, new, healthy venue located in the revitalized down town area of Las Vegas.  If you have a lunch meeting at City Hall, want a hot cup of coffee or even recuperating from visiting many of the cool nightlife venues, MTO Café will satisfy any situation you may be in need of.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Interactive Culinary Classes led by Bellagio Executive Chef Edmund Wong are sure to upgrade your kitchen skills.



Executive Chef Edmund Wong   credit : Powers Imagery
Executive Chef Edmund Wong
credit : Powers Imagery

The New Year has started and the Bellagio Resort & Casino has wasted no time in revealing their interactive, highly popular culinary series, An Executive Chef’s Culinary Classroom. This educational series features interactive cooking classes led by Bellagio Executive Chef Edmund Wong and his team of culinary stars.

 At each two-hour session held in Tuscany Kitchen, Chef Wong and his staff will guide you as they compose and prepare  gastronomic delights over a three-course meal and share their culinary secrets from the kitchen.
Classes begin Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. Tickets are priced at $125 per person, all-inclusive, and can be purchased by calling Bellagio Concierge at 866-406-7117
Having attended these events in the past, you can expect to find your personal cooking station prepped with the ingredients and tools necessary to create an appetizer, main entrée and dessert course. The always entertaining Chef Wong provides a step-by-step demonstration while his assisting chefs visit the stations providing guidance on slicing, seasoning and combining ingredients. After each course is prepared you indulge in your own work of culinary artistry paired with a specially selected wine. And so that you won’t forget your new found skills, Chef Wong will send you home with a souvenir Tuscany Kitchen apron and recipe card featuring detailed instruction for recreating the meal at home so that you can impress your dinner guests.
Each class features a seasonal theme and features a menu created with the freshest ingredients available.
The Proof is in the Risotto: Tuesday, January 14
Risotto is a dish that never fails to impress. In this session, Bellagio chefs will teach participants to master the technique of cooking a great risotto at home, just as it is done in award-winning, fine dining restaurants at the resort.
I Heart Food: Thursday, February 13
The path to a lover’s heart is through the stomach and the Valentine’s Day-inspired dishes demonstrated in this course are sure to provide the tools necessary to create a romantic and unforgettable celebration.
The Noodle Lover’s Guide to Pasta: Wednesday, March 5
Perfect pasta lies in its preparation. This class will take guests through key pasta cooking tips and pasta sauce techniques sure to make extraordinary pasta every time.
Blossoming Taste of Spring: Thursday, April 3
Warm spring sunshine evokes the desire for crisp, fresh flavors. Guests will learn how to bring out the essence of the season while utilizing nature’s freshest quality ingredients.
Grilling Perfection: Wednesday, May 28
Grilling is more than a science, it’s an art. Guests will replicate techniques as Bellagio chefs artfully prepare delicious grilled dishes.
Father’s Day Bellagio Barbeque: Thursday, June 12
Chefs demonstrate how to create, in true Bellagio style, a wonderful three-course barbequed meal certain to show any father how much he’s appreciated on Father’s Day.
What to Eat First? The Chicken or the Egg: Wednesday, August 27
Bellagio is known for creating world-class, innovative cuisine. This session will lead participants through the steps to constructing an inventive three-course meal highlighting ingredients including chicken and egg.
Farm to Table: Wednesday, September 24
Sensi utilizes sustainable, organically raised products in its celebrated cuisine. The restaurant also incorporates fresh herbs, grown in the resort’s rooftop garden, to complement the ingredients of each dish. Quality, purity and flavor will prevail in every creation from the menu demonstrated in this session.
Cooking with Chocolate: Wednesday, October 1
Bellagio boasts a renowned pastry team that creates extraordinary chocolate desserts. The talented chef team will demonstrate the intricacies of preparing fine chocolate so it’s perfectly sweet to taste.
 Harvesting Thanksgiving: Wednesday, November 19
Cooking a Thanksgiving dinner can be an intimidating feat. This class will take fear out of Thanksgiving preparations and guide participants to harmonious holiday dining.
This is a lovely opportunity to hone your culinary skills in the 1,170-square-foot Tuscany Kitchen and interact with Bellagio’s unparalleled culinary talent

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Celebrity Chefs Shine at the Venetian / Palazzo Resort's Annual Winter In Venice Celebration.

The Venetian and The Palazzo Resort’s Las Vegas Winter in Venice Festival Brings An All-Star Line Up of Celebrity Chefs and World Class Events.


The holiday season is behind us and we all look forward to a successful and healthy 2014. The Venetian and Palazzo Resorts once again ended the year on a very high note with their Winter in Venice Celebration and their best festival yet.

venetian-resort-hotelThis 49 day celebration of food, beverage and culture is an event that should not be missed when in Las Vegas for the holidays. This year’s theme “A Gift of the Venetian” was just that!  . It was a 49 day multisensory experience that made history.

Guests enjoyed kicking the celebration off with the Celtic Woman, Home for Christmas Symphony Tour. The 90-minute breath taking show featured music and the beautiful, talented women of the all-female music ensemble.
Cuisineist Editor-In-Chief Elaine Harris and a Winter  In  Venice friend .
Cuisineist Editor-In-Chief Elaine Harris and a Winter In Venice friend .
During the 49 day celebration, guests enjoyed two specialty weekends that were a reason to celebrate. The La Cucina Italiana Weekend featured Chef Mario Batali, Dario Cecchini, Chef Wolfgang Puck, Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro, Roberto Caporuscio, Anthony Giglio and Robin Leach in conjunction with Southern Wine and Spirits of Nevada. The ultimate dining experience was The Grand Banquet. This mouthwatering Italian experience of a life time was held Grand Colonnade, at the Venetian Resort.

Guests enjoyed a gastronomic Italian feast featuring new and old-world Italy, prepared by Mario Batali and Dario Cecchini, the legendary Chianti “Butcher of Panzano.”  This one of kind banquet was served Tuscan-style and included 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.” Each course also featured a world-class wine pairing by Carmelo Messina and Anthony Giglio to the delight of all that enjoyed this once in a lifetime event.

The Palazzo’s Waterfall Atrium was turned into an Italian Village as we enjoyed an afternoon of Food & Fun.  Guests strolled the Italian village and took the opportunity to experience Italy and learn about authentic Italy from the world’s greatest chefs and culinary celebrities. As the afternoon turned into evening many joined Robin Leach   at the “Bella Notte” event.

This all-star evening was a celebration of Italian-Americans who have made a significant impact on the culture of the United States. Guests mingled, dined and sipped alongside of the honorees as they enjoyed camaraderie and music into the night.
The Culinary Clash was back again this year which pitted the best Chefs of the Venetian and Palazzo against each other to vie for the prestige of the Venetian Culinary Clash Award. The one and only Chef Emeril Lagasse presided over a judging panel that featured restaurateurs and journalists over a hard fought two days. When the burners were off and knifes back in their cases Chef Tim Doolittle from Table 10 emerged the victor and earned a trip to Italy for his win.

Chef Tim Doolittle
Chef Tim Doolittle

The final event of the weekend was The Great Venetian Truffle Hunt. Who wouldn’t want to spend the day looking for truffles, possibly win a trip to Italy and enjoy a lunch featuring renowned Urbani Truffles?  We can’t think of anyone. We joined in the hunt that took us to Chef Mario Batali’s B&B Ristorante, Carnevino and OTTO to find the magic truffle that would send us to Italy. After a long night, the last day kicked off with breakfast that included Cipriani-style Bellinis and Italian coffee at OTTO .
We received half of a golden-colored truffle and the hunt was on as we sampled truffle dishes and wines at each stop. The last stop was Carnevino where one guest found the matching truffle and won an once-in-a-lifetime trip to Italy to visit the famed La Cucina Italiana Cooking School.
The afternoon was exciting and delightful. Even though most of the guests did not win the ultimate prize, enjoying a 4 course truffle and wine paired lunch was a tasty way to end the final day of this annual celebration.

The Venetian / Palazzo Resorts never ceases to amaze us with their imagination and quality of events hosted in their world class venues. We can only imagine what’s in store for the holiday season next year. Whatever it is, we know it will be done with the class that these two resorts are renowned for.