Vegas Uncork'd, an Epicurean Whirlwind and a Wall of Donuts
The premier culinary & wine event in Las Vegas; exclusive one-of-a-kind experiences with celebrity chefs
June 4, 2017
"I don't know how many Michelin stars are on stage, but it's a lot."
--Andrew Knowlton, Deputy Editor Bon Appétit
A few weeks ago Edible Skinny was lucky enough to enjoy the foodie high life at the 11th Annual Vegas Uncork'd, a four day long food extravaganza held by Bon Appétit.
Vegas Uncork'd is the premier culinary and wine event in Las Vegas, offering exclusive one-of-a-kind experiences with celebrity chefs. The weekend was quite the epicurean whirlwind full of high living hors d'oeuvres to champagne connoisseur-ing. Here's our recap of the indulgence of great wines, tasty morsels, and seeing all our favorite celebrity chefs IRL (aka In Real Life).
Our first foray into this world of bites of bliss was Celebrate Spago, a 25th Anniversary Lunch with Wolfgang Puck at Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. The event, hosted by the darling Andrew Knowlton, the Deputy Editor of Bon Appétit, was a Candyland experience for the taste buds. It marked the 25th anniversary of Wolfgang Puck in Las Vegas, who unfortunately wasn't able to attend because of an emergency. Because I was a Veg many aspects of the original menu was redone for me, but the original four course menu included a simply fabulous Carrot dish! Topped with miso carrot puree that had been fermented for eight months and finished with a carrot infused oil the dish was divinity in vegetable form. Perfect for everyone from a high dining Bugs Bunny to a standard operating carnivore on Meatless Monday! It was paired perfectly with a Grgich-Hills Chardonnay from Napa Valley, a bottle, like many, distributed by wine sponsor Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits of Nevada. The delectable dessert of this event was the White Chocolate Rhubarb with Citrus Cake and Fennel, a unique submission in a world saturated by. The sucré morsel was paired with the fantastic finishing wine of Alois Kracher Cuvée Beerenaslese from Burgenland, Austria (and to celebrate one of the most successful Austrian chefs in Vegas)!
Immediately after our delights at Spago I swung over to Mandalay Bay's Libertine Social for their Fireside Chats to a meet, and greet, and eat with Chef Shawn McClain. Libertine Social is a next-generation gastropub with a variety of experiences ranging from an uber-social center bar to a more secluded classic cocktail room. With an "Arcade Bar" (which is their version of an alcoholic set of Russian nesting dolls with a bar within a bar) full of "libation and parlor tricks." I was in brown bar heaven (I'm a totally Bourbon girl!). This is a "'Bar' Bar" with drinks categorized into Daisies and Fixes, Cobblers and Cups, and Juleps and Smashes. In honor of the impending Kentucky Derby we imbibed Prescription Juleps composed of Piere Ferrand 1840 Cognac, Rittendhouse Rye Whiskey, Fresh Sprearmint, Demerara Syrup, and Appleton Jamaican Rum. This was paired expertly with the fantastic Caviar "Fried Egg" made with Kaluga Caviar (but not for the Veggie), Corn Pudding, and Brioche. The dish was created as an "approachable caviar dish," and I have to say that the presentation made this Veg question whether or not she might want to approach it! Another standout dish was the Roasted Cauliflower with Hazelnuts, Romesco, Dates and Toasted Breadcrumbs. Crafted by Chef Shawn himself behind the grill (who also has restaurants Five50 and Sage in Vegas) the dish was the perfect balance of vegetables to remind me of the glories of greens!
Edible Skinny's third event (that's right three food events in one day!) was the Grand Tasting at the Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis at Caesars Palace. The Grand Tasting is the signature event of Vegas Uncork'd, where over 2,500 food enthusiasts enjoy a staggering variety of signature dishes prepared by some of the world's most celebrated chefs. The dramatic five-acre Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis at Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino featured more than 50 award-winning chefs and over 100 of the best wines and spirits from around the world. The best dish hands down was Eggslut's "The Slut," a Cage-Free Coddled Egg on top of House made Potato Puree with Chive and Gray Salt. It was absolute warm heaven in a cup as the night was particularly chilly windy! Here's to celebrating the Slut, the Eggslut that is! ;-)
But there was no rest for the foodie as the next day I headed over to Picnic in The Park, a delightful picnic at The Park, located between Monte Carlo and New York-New York featuring some of MGM Resorts' most notable chefs including including Alain Ducasse, Charlie Palmer, Michael Mina, Julian Serrano, Rick Moonen, Tom Colicchio, Shawn McClain, Roy Ellamar, Akira Back, and David Werly. It was an event that was so pretty, it should have its own Pinterest page! Picnic in The Park offered creative twists on classic picnic dishes, Edible Gardens and champagne provided by Veuve Clicquot.
There was giant Jenga, corn hole, and croquet for your inner-child, personalized flower rings created by Miss Daisy, and The Photo Bus, a vintage VW Bus, which has been transformed into a photo booth for the occasion. While there I got to chat it up with Chef Bryce Shuman who will be opening up Primrose at the soon to be transformed Park MGM from the Monte Carlo. Shuman made the best dish of the event a scrumptious Veggie Burger all while having a deep discussion about his musical side projects
But I was in a city that never sleeps, especially for foodies, so I dashed over the next event Sweet Escape, which was an Evening of Buddy, Beignets, Bonbons & Booze at The Venetian. Hosted by TV personality Buddy "Cake Boss" Valastro this poolside reception was the ultimate decadent evening to surrender to the sweet side of life, featuring a number of world-renowned chefs of The Venetian and The Palazzo, each preparing a unique take on confectionaries such as beignets or bonbons. There were Oreo Beignets (from LaVo, and they were Auh-Mazing!), Vanilla Vodka Cream Soda drinks, a 30 foot donut wall, and coffee drinks crafted with your favorite chef's profile in latté art!
My final foray into this epicurean marathon meal at Rao's at Caesars Palace. A traditional Sunday Brunch to close out Vegas Uncork'd by Bon Appétit, the event featured the actual Rao's Family. Rao's partners Frank Pellegrino Jr. and Ron Straci hosted "Little Italy From City to Strip" which has been one of the festival's most beloved event for several years.
The sold out brunch was not only a feast of Rao's time-honored dishes, but was also interactive, as guests were walked through how to make pan-seared steak and Zeppoles. First course, I partook in the Roasted Red Peppers with Tossed Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts. This was paired with a Rotari Talento Trento Brut Rose Trentino Alto Adige, Italy. The second course featured Lobster Oreganato of Lobster Grilled and Toasted with Oregano Bread Crumbs. Pan-Seared Steak with Sautéed Mushrooms and Onions. Sides included some simply fabulous Baked Beefsteak Tomatoes and Asparagus and Parmigiano Reggiano.
This was paired with the delightful Luigi Righetti, Valpolicellla Classico Superiore Campolieti, Veneto Italy. And can I say Yumm (with 3 Ms!!!) Dessert consisted of fresh made Zeppoles, aka deep-fried dough balls for those who didn't grow up in the Italian populated New Jersey, with Blackberry Gelato. This was paired with Mezzacorona, Moscato, Vigneti Delle Dolomiti, Trentino Alto Adige, Italy. Boun Appetito!!!
But all good eats must come to an end and so until next year the kitchen is closed on Vegas Uncork'd! Here's to life being delicious and every day being an epicurean whirlwind!
Kat Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Edible Skinny, a site dedicated to making your life postcard worthy. She is also the CEO of the creative media company This Way Adventures. You can find more about both brands at http://www.thiswayadventures.com