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David Ross

Vegas Uncork'd: A Bon Appetit Epicurean Experience

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Excellent report and photos, David. The food at L'Atelier is certainly impeccable. The egg dish is interesting and very similar to one that Dan barber serves at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. I would be curious to know whose dish and technique this really is. Is it Barber's? Robuchon's? Someone else entirely? My guess is that the egg is cooked to temperature in a water bath or other precisely temperature controlled device, then peeled , coated in panko and quickly deep-fried. I have had Barber's version and it is wonderful.

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Excellent report and photos, David. The food at L'Atelier is certainly impeccable. The egg dish is interesting and very similar to one that Dan barber serves at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. I would be curious to know whose dish and technique this really is. Is it Barber's? Robuchon's? Someone else entirely? My guess is that the egg is cooked to temperature in a water bath or other precisely temperature controlled device, then peeled , coated in panko and quickly deep-fried. I have had Barber's version and it is wonderful.

One thing that is so exciting about L'Atelier is that you are sitting literally a few feet away from the Chef's-yet you don't really see the craftsmanship going into creating this delicate little egg. The surprise comes when the plate is put before you. The earlier asparagus dish was delicious--but imagine placing a few tender spears of poached asparagus underneath this egg. Now that is an asparagus salad.

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Thursday, May 8, Lunch at Louis’s Fish Camp-

It’s somewhat of a mystery to me that people who travel to Las Vegas don’t venture beyond the concrete jungle we know as the “Strip” to taste some of the wonderful local restaurants serving the nearly two million people who reside in greater Clark County, Nevada.

Certainly, it’s understandable that if you are in town for only a few days attending a convention that your time is very precious. But if you can sway yourself away from the gambling tables for a few hours, there is a Jewel of the South to be found at Town Square Mall just a few miles from the Strip.

Chef Louis Osteen has been featured in television and print for his Southern cuisine. In 2004, he was recognized by the James Beard Foundation as the Best Chef of the Southeast.

Chef Osteen still maintains his restaurants on Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. In 2007, he brought his signature dishes out West to Las Vegas-opening the casual “Louis’s Fish Camp,” and the more upscale, fine-dining restaurant “Louis’s” at the new Town Square Mall Complex.

Adding to Chef Osteen’s impressive credentials is Executive/Partner Chef Carlos Guia, formerly Chef at the now-closed Commander’s Palace connected to the shops at the Aladdin Hotel.

It was a sad day for Las Vegas dining when Commander’s Palace closed-they offered New Orleans cuisine that was unmatched in Las Vegas. The brunch was fabulous, as was the Turtle Soup-but the Alladin closed and was reincarnated as Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino and the changeover ended the run of Commander’s Palace in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas is thankful to have both Chef Osteen and Chef Guia in the same house at Louis’s and Fish Camp-and you should count yourself as lucky when you dine there.

If you are taking a cab to Louis’s Fish Camp, you must be patient-both the mall and the restaurant are fairly new to the Las Vegas landscape and hotel doormen and cab drivers are not yet familiar with the specific location of the restaurant.

However, a healthy tip for the driver and a copy of the map to the restaurant, (provided by the restaurant’s website), will deliver you to the doorstep of this restaurant serving delicious, authentic Southern “Low-Country” cuisine.

Our group had lunch at the more casual “Fish Camp.” The space is open and airy, a large fish net studded with fishing gear divides the space between the bar and the dining room. The décor is reminiscent of a lazy fish camp on a humid Southern day.

Please excuse me for not getting any photos of our lunch dishes-for once I decided to enjoy the food and the conversation of my studied, food writing friends and the company of Chef Osteen and Chef Guia.

I will tell you that when you are sitting in a booth at a Southern style restaurant in Las Vegas and one of the guests is a recognizable food writer from New York, you realize you need to take in the moment and the spirited conversations and not be distracted by taking pictures.

To start, we shared a platter of the “Flash-Fried Alligator” served with “Mirliton Slaw, Buttermilk Bleu Cheese and Buttered Texas Pete Hot Sauce.” The taste of gator is akin to that of frog’s legs-the texture of “chicken” but the sweetness and flavor of fish. The tangy slaw helped to cut through the richness of the fried gator strips.

I shared the gator with a cup of the “She Crab Soup.” Chef Guia explained that he starts the soup by cooking a roux down until it turns to a deep, mahogany color. He then adds roe from female crabs, (flown in fresh from Louisiana), to give the soup its distinctive crab flavor, before finishing it off with a good dose of Sherry wine.

I had dreamed of having an Oyster “Po’Boy” sandwich in the days leading up to lunch at Fish Camp-but I changed my mind at the last minute and ordered the “Peppery Arugula Greens” dressed with “Buttermilk Bleu Cheese, Candied Pecans, Roasted Pecan Oil, Cane Vinegar and Molasses Vinaigrette.” One cannot dine at Fish Camp without having an oyster or two, so I added the “ Crispy Oysters” to my salad. (If you do try the "Po'Boy," the sandwich rolls are made locally to the restaurant's specifications).

I come from the Northwest where we know our oysters, and I don’t order oysters in a restaurant unless I’m confident they are fresh. The fresh little nuggets at Fish Camp were dredged in corn meal and quickly fried. They were perfect-crispy on the outside yet barely cooked on the inside-just how y’all will like them.

The daily lunch special at Fish Camp is an incredible value in the context of Las Vegas dining. You choose either a cup of the daily soup or the Chopped Salad to begin, a daily entrée, side dishes and a choice of Sorbet, “Jack Daniels” Banana Pudding or Brioche Bread Pudding for dessert. For twelve dollars. That’s right-$12.00 for a full lunch on Monday where the special is “Pork Grillades and Grits.”

Fish Camp really gets hoppin at night when live music is featured, and the music theme carries over next door to Louis’s Restaurant on Sunday’s when they serve up brunch to live Gospel music.

On my next trip to Las Vegas, I’ll try dinner in the upscale dining room at Louis’s. I think I might start with the “Mrs. Ralph Izzard’s Brown Oyster Stew with Benne Seeds.” Then for a main dish I’ll have the “Blue Ridge Rainbow Trout Stuffed with Crab, Benton’s Bacon, and Pan-Fried Potatoes.” For dessert I might fancy a slice of “Mississippi Caramel Cake with Buttermilk Ice Cream.”

I didn’t ease into the canvas swing on the porch after lunch at Fish Camp-but I did take a nap back at my room at The Mirage-and I dreamed of those delicious fried oysters. We had eaten a delicious Southern lunch prepared with soul by Chefs devoted to bringing Southern Cuisine to Las Vegas.

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Thursday, May 8, Valley Wine and Cheese-

We often limit ourselves to the restaurants at the big Strip hotels when we’re visiting Las Vegas.

But a culinary adventure in Las Vegas doesn’t mean you are limited to restaurant dining-remember a few posts back I created my own little picnic of gourmet sandwiches and pastries from Jean-Phillipe and Payard? Well, there’s a unique shop in Las Vegas that I visited that would have added some lusty Pate, Olives and “Jamon Serrano” to my picnic hamper.

After leaving Fish Camp, we decided to take a short drive to visit a wonderful shop located at 1770 West Horizon Ridge Parkway in Henderson-a burgeoning community East of Las Vegas.

Bob Howald and Kristin Sande opened Valley Cheese and Wine in 2006. They came West to Las Vegas with over 17 years of experience and an impressive resume in the food industry.

Valley Cheese and Wine is the premier wine, cheese and gourmet shop in the entire Las Vegas Metro area. Bob and Kristin take great care and pride in tasting and selecting, cheeses, wines and charcuterie that are the highest-quality one can find. All of the cheeses are cut “fresh to order.”

After a long-day sleeping through motivational speakers at your convention sessions, you may need to unwind with a nice bottle of wine in your hotel room. Valley Cheese and Wine offers more than 1,000 different selections. And don’t hesitate to call Bob and Kristin to ask them about upcoming Wine Tastings and Wine Classes.

The wine selections-

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The large selection of gourmet foods-

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Silly me-when I spotted a bottle of Espelette Pepper on the shelf. I thought I would buy it and try to re-create Robuchon’s dish of “Big Eye Tuna with Tomato Infused Olive Oil” that I had at L’Atelier two nights prior. While the pepper may be the same, it’s doubtful my tuna will taste like L’Atelier’s tuna!

The amazing Charcuterie case-

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“I have an important group of guests visiting my townhouse suite at Wynn tonight, one of everything please”-

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And for the creative home cook who resides in Las Vegas-

"May I sprinkle some bee pollen over your lavendar ice cream Sir?"

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Dinner tonight kicks off the events associated with "Vegas Uncork'd." My next report comes from Bradley Ogden at Caesar's hosted by Alan Richman.

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Wow ... what an experienced!

Thanks for sharing them with us David

For me, I like LV as much as NY for dining there as tourists - going there 3 nights or so and eat as much as we can while enjoying some shows in the night

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Thursday, May 8, “Master’s Series Dinner” at Bradley Ogden, Caesar’s Palace, hosted by Alan Richman-

The formal events associated with “Vegas Uncork’d” began on this Thursday night with the five “Master’s Series Dinners” at Caesar’s Palace.

One would be hard-pressed to select one among these five outstanding choices:

-Guy Savoy, hosted by Chef Guy Savoy and Bon Appetit Editor-in- Chief, Barbara Fairchild

-Payard Patisserie and Bistro, hosted by Chef Francois Payard and James Beard Award winning Cookbook Author Dorie Greenspan.

-Rao’s, hosted by Bon Appetit Restaurant Editor Andrew Knowlton, Lorraine Bracco (The Sopranos), and Carla and Frank Pellegrino.

-Mesa Grill, (aka Bobby Flay’s place), hosted by “Iron Chef” Cat Cora and Chef Steve Olson.

-Bradley Ogden, hosted by Chefs Bradley Ogden and his son Bryan Ogden and Alan Richman.

My recommendation for selecting your Master’s Series Dinner next year is to first think about what style of cuisine you prefer. Second, select a restaurant who’s Chef you admire and would like to meet. Lastly, make your choice based on the host of the event. Part of the fun and exclusivity of these dinners is the opportunity to dine with a small group and be able to converse with both the Chef and the host on a private level.

This year, I selected Bradley Ogden. I had dined at the Guy Savoy dinner last year, so I wanted to try something different on this trip—and I had an interest in meeting both Chefs and thanking them for two very different reasons.

But before I talk about the Chefs and our dinner, the “real” reason I wanted to go to the dinner at Ogden was to have the honorable occasion to again meet with Alan Richman, (we first met at lunch at “Fish Camp” the day before).

For those of you who only know Alan through his writing, should you be afforded the opportunity, I’d encourage you to get to know the man on a personal level. As you know from the postings on eGullet, when it comes to Alan’s writing, he often becomes the topic of heated debates rather than the plate of pasta he’s reviewing. There was that dust-up over Alan’s piece about the Ferry Building and the food in San Francisco, and a recent spat with Bourdain that filtered into the Internet.

One of the more infamous pieces about Alan appeared on eGullet-masterfully written by our own Steven Shaw. The post opened with a portrait of Alan greeting his guests in his bathrobe. As I remember, the “canapés” included little pigs in a blanket. And as we are wont to do at eGullet, a discussion of the merits of the Food Writer as Cook ensued—along with an intense debate as to the best pastry one should use when wrapping weenies.

Alan is undoubtedly one of the top Food Writers in America, and he has the James Beard Awards and book sales to prove it. But aside from what I think Alan would find as these somewhat embarrassing accolades, he is quite simply a great story teller when it comes to conversations, (with a good glass of wine), about all things related to food and dining. And while he probably wouldn’t admit it, Alan was regarded as one of the top “stars” if you will, appearing at the Bon Appétit Events in Las Vegas.

Chef Bradley Ogden is the recipient of a James Beard Award and he was one of the first American Chefs in the early 80’s to introduce us to the concept of “New American Cuisine.” He is truly one of the pioneer Chefs in America who motivated both his fellow Chefs and home cooks to get back to our roots and focus on preparing foods with seasonal, “farm-fresh” ingredients.

The first time I dined with Chef Ogden was in 1983 at the highly-regarded Campton Place Hotel on Union Square in San Francisco. I remember the appetizer being a Quail Terrine with some type of Kumquat sauce. It was quite an adventure back then for a family from a small town in Oregon to be eating this delicious yet exotic cuisine in the sophisticated city of San Francisco. It was nice to share this early memory with Chef Bradley.

Now fast forward exactly twenty-five years to today and I found myself once again having dinner with Chef Bradley and now a new addition-his talented son Chef Bryan Ogden. At a very young age Bryan took on the challenge of upholding his Father’s culinary vision as the Executive Chef at Bradley Ogden Restaurant at Caesar’s Palace.

I posed a question to Bryan that I think you will find enlightening as it relates to our discussion about the “soul” behind the cooking in Las Vegas, and how he and his Father have achieved success in this unique restaurant market:

“I like to refer to our cuisine as ‘market cuisine.’ We are strictly seasonal and the market dictates what we do every day. We have a large variety of ethnic backgrounds in our Las Vegas kitchen and all are celebrated in our style of cuisine. Everyone in the kitchen has some influence on the dishes that reach our diners.”

“Not everything is imported; we have three farms locally which we work with that supply us with more than 50 different herbs and lettuces as well as kumquats, strawberries, squashes, melons and zucchini blossoms.”

“One of our Sous-Chefs drives from Las Vegas to the Farmer’s market in Los Angeles every Wednesday and fills his van with produce.”

“We are finding ways to keep the ‘farm-to-table’ philosophy in effect in Las Vegas. We also work with more than 100 other farmers, fishermen and ranchers who ship us product overnight on a daily basis.”

So you see, not every tomato in Las Vegas began its life in a hydro-seeded tray in a foreign greenhouse—ultimately limping its way into the back pantry.

To use a culinary term, please excuse the grainy texture of some of my photos. Low lighting in dining rooms doesn’t always set the platform for clear photos.

The evening began with a reception held in a private room. We were served two canapés, (the best dishes of the evening in my opinion), presented on large silver trays by waiters strolling amongst the guests.

“Olive-Oil Poached Wild King Salmon, Cauliflower Puree, Crispy Wild Rice Cake”

“Marinated Big Eye Tuna, Coconut Foam, Lime-Scented Tapioca, Fennel Crepe, Housemade Lemon Cheese, Ramp Vinaigrette”

The canapés were accompanied by flutes of-

“Chartogne-Taillet, ‘Cuvee St. Anne’ Merfy Montagne de Reims, Champagne”

(Whew, that’s a bubbly mouthful).

One of the great joys of attending the Bon Appétit Events in Las Vegas is that you have the chance to make new friends from across the country who share your passion for food, cooking and dining.

My table of six at Bradley Ogden included yours truly from the Pacific Northwest, a gentleman from Minneapolis, a woman from San Diego accompanied by her son who resides in Las Vegas and has a culinary background, and a couple from Dallas, Texas.

Our first course-

“Asparagus Soup, Preserved Meyer Lemon Gnocchi, Georgia Rock Shrimp, Kalamata Olive Froth"

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The shrimp and the lemon gnocchi were swimming just below the surface of the hot soup. Chef Bradley told me that they place the raw shrimp into the soup just before service so it doesn’t become overcooked. Foams are still quite popular in Las Vegas cooking, and I give the Chefs credit for using it appropriately, (not always the case when it comes to this trendy garnish). The Kalamata foam added just a whisper of salt to balance the rich soup.

The fish course and wine accompaniment-

“Pan-Roasted Atlantic Halibut, Spring Garlic Ravioli, Sous Vide Porcini, Parsley Puree”

“Cigalas Assyritko 2006, Santorini, Greece”

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Spring Garlic could be described as a more virgin, wondrous taste of garlic-subtle and unassuming with just a hint of garlic flavor.

My only minor quibble with the fish course was that the halibut was fished out of the Atlantic. As moist and flavorful as it could be, it wasn’t as precious as my beloved Alaskan Halibut. But the sea where the halibut swam was soon forgotten when I saw the garnish of fresh Morels. Chef Bradley is in my good graces-the Morels were harvested from forests in Oregon.

A flavor of Spring found in the meat course, served with an appropriate wine-

“Cedar Spring Lamb Rack, Ratatouille Flavors”

“Anoro Malbec 2005, Mendoza, Argentina”

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The Chefs had “deconstructed” the traditional mélange of vegetables that compose ratatouille. The characteristic basil flavor was found in the bed of risotto under the lamb, while the baby vegetables were simply prepared and served in the style of a salad.

A surprise was up next, yet sadly I was had fallen under the spell of the wines and forgot to get a photo-

“Honeydew Melon Sorbet, Grilled Watermelon, Mint”

As light and sweet as it sounds, this is a dessert that I’ll serve at a picnic this Summer.

The dessert-

“Rhubarb Mascarpone Tart, Strawberry Sherbet, Grains of Paradise Tuillet”

“Williams and Humbert 15 year Oloroso Solera Especial, Jerez, Spain”

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For the sake of proportion in presentation, and my sake, I would have loved to have had a larger portion of the deliciously fresh Strawberry Sherbet.

Some of you know that on occasion I post my thoughts about the often ridiculous absurdity known as “Top Chef” on Bravo. I would ask that the contestants on Top Chef turn their attention to my photo of what a “Top Chef” kitchen looks like.

The kitchens at Bradley Ogden are a model of decorum and professionalism-a concept often overlooked by the antics displayed by the contestants on that reality show on Bravo.

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All good things often end their run in Las Vegas-Elvis at the “International Hotel,” Celine at Caesar’s. Others come in to carry on the party-Bette and Elton’s Red Piano now share Celine’s venue with Cher.

Such is the case at Bradley Ogden. Bryan is no longer cooking in Las Vegas-he’s moved to the environs of Southern California and will be announcing news of his latest kitchen post very soon. Chef Bradley is soon to open a hotel and no doubt another one of his delicious restaurants amidst the beauty of the rolling hills just North of Santa Barbara in Solvang, Californina.

Not to worry though. Bradley Ogden at Caesar’s Palace is awaiting your reservation for dinner in Las Vegas.

I may not share my face cards with you and tell you which meal ranked as my “best” while I was in Las Vegas. But I will place a bet on the table and tell you that my next report considers the fortunes of twenty lucky diners at the “Editors at Lunch Series” on Friday, May 9 at Sensi at Bellagio.

Hosted by Alan Richman, Chef Martin Heirling presented us with some of the most creative, outrageously flavorful, whimsically creative food I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

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David, thanks for another outstanding report. I am very much vicariously enjoying your experience. Each of those dinners looked enticing in their own right.

Addressing the issue of "soul" and Bryan Ogden's comments, I would say that to a great extent they make my point rather than prove it. Sure, a number of ingredients are grown locally, but so many others are other trucked in from L.A., Phoenix or elsewhere. There is very little that really speaks "of the area." There is no Las Vegas terroir to speak of. I know that they use top notch ingredients, imported from near or far and even some that may very well be grown and raised locally. However, even those ingredients raised in the environs of Las Vegas originated elsewhere and are used to speak to cuisines that have been developed elsewhere. There may come a day (and given the talent level cooking in LV it may be sooner rather than later) that Las Vegas becomes a leader in the culinary world rather than a place taking ideas, produce and talent from elsewhere to produce high quality reproductions of much of the world's best food. Until that really starts happening I will still consider the culinary landscape of Las Vegas as lacking "soul" despite my own enjoyment of what I have eaten there as well as your superb chronicling of your culinary explorations. This subtopic and my position in it does nothing to diminish my enjoyment of your presentation and my envy of your experience. My thesis is not intended to denigrate the individual accomplishments of any of the chefs, cooks and restauranteurs doing what they do in Las Vegas, many of whom do truly outstanding work as you have been so ably reporting. Rather, it is the aggregate sense of the value of that accumulation in the grand scheme of the culinary firmament.

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Excellent report and photos, David. The food at L'Atelier is certainly impeccable. The egg dish is interesting and very similar to one that Dan barber serves at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. I would be curious to know whose dish and technique this really is. Is it Barber's? Robuchon's? Someone else entirely? My guess is that the egg is cooked to temperature in a water bath or other precisely temperature controlled device, then peeled , coated in panko and quickly deep-fried. I have had Barber's version and it is wonderful.

Doc...the method that I am familiar with is the standard method of poaching but stopping when barely set then into cold water...dry the egg and standard breading procedure then a quick fry so the egg stays molten...delicious...we will have a crispy poached egg with a prime ribeye at NOCA.

E

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I think it's reasonable to say that we both agree that there can be outstanding dining experiences in Las Vegas. And give me a few more days to share with you a few more of those experiences that I think may sway the pendulum more toward the side of the aisle that supports the argument that there is depth and soul behind the culinary artists who ply their craft in Las Vegas.

Let me say for those who may think Doc and I are arguing with each other, we are not. We are debating a topic that we both obviously find to be one that deserves our attention, (one of the attributes of the formats presented at eGullet). If our discussions lead us to gain a better understanding and knowledge of the issue, I think we all benefit in the end.

It's safe to assume that both of us pride ourselves on our taste for fine dining and in the spirit of two friends sipping warm brandy in the libaray-and we've taken the charge to further the discussion.

But I am finding that our deeper question speaking to the "soul" of the culinary landscape in Las Vegas has opened a window onto an even deeper subject--what really defines a Chef or Restaurant as having soul in today's world? I'm inclined to open a topic on this deeper issue once I finish the reports here. (Someone else can certainly take the lead as knowing me, I'll forget to do so).

It seems to me we can use Las Vegas as the basis for the separate discussion about what "soul" means when it comes to defining a Chef or a restaurant. Is there one definitive answer? I'm not currently qualified to present a case that fully supports one argument over another. I see both sides of the debate.

I can, however, provide a couple of examples to bring other parts of the question to the forefront.

There are many restaurants today that solely rely on seasonal, locally-grown (the parameters of what is called "local" seem to vary widely), "Farm-Fresh," cuisine.

Some of these restaurants strictly adhere to those principals. Is this what defines the restaurant as having soul? If you really took this definition literally we wouldn't serve Lemon Meringue Pie in Seattle-Lemons don't naturally grow in the Northwest, (unless you have an electronically-controlled greenhouse environment in your backyard). I'm obviously over-stating the point, but you understand what I am saying.

It seems to me that we have other restaurants who present food that is "seasonal" and "farm-fresh," (Bradley Ogden in Las Vegas for example), that rely largely on ingredients being imported from far outside the region. Does this call into question that the restaurant lacks soul? Or--is the soul of the restaurant found within the heart of the Chef (Bradley and Bryan for example), who create the delicious cuisine that is presented to you?

I was saving an example to use later in my report that I'll disclose now. My example may sound odd to some of you, but it's based on a personal story as it relates to the theater arts-and my story has a direct correlation to our debate about what qualifies art-in our case the art of cooking-as having soul.

I've seen the Phantom of the Opera four times-in London, Seattle twice and in Portland. All fabulous performances with chilling memories of the romantic music, the costumes and the lavish sets. The beauty of hearing "The Music of the Night" in the forum of a live performance of the Phantom always brings me to tears.

Yet of the three venues, which one would I pick as having the most "soul?" It would of course have to be in London at Her Majesty's Theatre, the home where the Phantom of the Opera debuted many years ago.

One cannot settle into the balcony of Her Majesty's Theatre without recalling memories of what it must have been like when Michael Crawford first appeared onstage as the Phantom. And think of glancing over to the Royal Box and seeing Queen Elizabeth sitting with Andrew Lloyd Webber watching the production unfold.

The seats may be a bit worn and the air may smell a bit musty, but Her Majesty's Theatre in London is the home of the Phantom of the Opera-how can anywhere else compare to this precious original work of art?

Yet taking the sentimentality of the occasion out of the equation, experiencing Phantom in Portland or Seattle was just as exciting as seeing it in London. And bringing this wondrous production to people who will never have the chance to see it in London is on many levels, a soulful experience.

Whether it was the original production with Michael Crawford in London or the third under study 20 years later that will sing the songs of the Phantom when it comes to Spokane later this year-the soul behind the music of the Phantom lives on. One could correlate this story to the quandary of whether or not the restaurants in Las Vegas are serving their soul to their customers.

My next report will be on lunch at Sensi at Bellagio, hosted by Alan Richman and Chef Martin Heirling, (and a Master Beer "Sommelier" from Belgium). I hope you'll find it interesting and delicious.

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Excellent report and photos, David. The food at L'Atelier is certainly impeccable. The egg dish is interesting and very similar to one that Dan barber serves at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. I would be curious to know whose dish and technique this really is. Is it Barber's? Robuchon's? Someone else entirely? My guess is that the egg is cooked to temperature in a water bath or other precisely temperature controlled device, then peeled , coated in panko and quickly deep-fried. I have had Barber's version and it is wonderful.

Doc...the method that I am familiar with is the standard method of poaching but stopping when barely set then into cold water...dry the egg and standard breading procedure then a quick fry so the egg stays molten...delicious...we will have a crispy poached egg with a prime ribeye at NOCA.

E

Thank you so much. I would probably not even qualify for a position washing the entree dishes at L'Atelier-but I can't leave well enough alone so I'm going to try this at home!

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David, you bring to mind an interesting thought about "soul." My postulate is that Las Vegas as a culinary destination lacks soul because it has no particular identity. I would agree that the cooking of individual chefs and restaurants in Las Vegas may indeed have soul in that they are cooking with passion. Your presentations are certainly giving credence to the latter half of that thought.

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On Friday I attended one of the “Editors-at-Lunch” Series luncheons at Bellagio. My choice was lunch at Sensi at Bellagio, hosted by Alan Richman and Chef Martin Heirling.

There were two other lunches that were held at Bellagio on Friday-

-Picasso, hosted by Chef Julian Serrano and Wine and Spirits Authority Steve Olson.

-Le Cirque, hosted by Barbara Fairchild and Sirio Maccioni.

It’s quite amazing that Chef Martin Heirling has such an impressive resume for a Chef under 40. Martin was born in Germany and has worked around the globe in kitchens in Europe, New Zealand and Singapore before moving to Las Vegas to open Sensi at Bellagio.

Sensi is one of my favorite restaurants in Las Vegas-yet it is somewhat of a hidden secret that doesn’t get the attention of some of the big-name restaurants that are more prominent on the Strip.

The restaurant is just off the Conservatory and steps away from Jean-Phillipe Patisserie. Many people wander from the main lobby through the halls to the Tower building without realizing that Sensi is quietly waiting for their custom.

Sensi was designed by Japanese architects to be an oasis of calm to stimulate one’s sense’s when dining. The experience starts when you pass through the doorway to the sounds of water gently flowing behind the walls of the entry sign.

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Lunch began with introductions from our friend Alan Richman and a discussion with Chef Heirling about his background and the design of the restaurant and the cuisine.

I was happy that our group was composed of no more than 20 people-all of us seated at a long table, “family-style,” with Alan at the head of the table.

Alan made a risky bet before we started lunch. He promised that the first five people who bought his book at the Friday night “Grand Tasting” would be rewarded with the honor of accompanying him on one of his restaurant review treks in Manhattan. Well, not necessarily Manhattan but he did say “New York.” Far be it from me to criticize Alan’s self-promotion, but he should be careful when placing such an open-ended bet in Las Vegas. (More on this later).

Also in attendance was a Master Beer “Sommelier” from Belgium who was in Las Vegas in conjunction with our events. He (sorry, didn’t get his name), was in town to speak to the new concept of pairing beer with dishes in a fine dining format-something we would try this afternoon with our main course.

Every design element of the restaurant was created with the theme of the senses, starting with the flowing, uneven walls that are lined with hardwoods . The four kitchens in the center of the restaurant are enclosed by floor-to-ceiling glass walls that expose the chefs to the diners. (Both the kitchen staff and the customers are “sharing the sense” of the dining experience).

Chef Heirling explained that the concept of playing to the senses carries through to the choice of the service plates. No two service plates are alike and many are handmade. Your Santa Barbara Spot Prawns will not be served on a perfectly square china plate with linear edges-but it will be served on a hand-crafted glass dish with uneven edges and textures to accent the different textures of the seafood on your plate.

The four kitchens at Sensi are divided between “Raw,” (live seafood), "Southeast Asian," "Italian" and "American Grill." The menus at Sensi are changed about five times a year, and while each kitchen carries its own unique flavors, the dishes are designed to work in harmony with one another. Customers are encouraged to order dishes from the four different kitchens.

A view into the kitchens-

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The “Raw” kitchen-

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Baking bread in one of two Tandoori Ovens in the Asian kitchen-

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Martin described his Asian dishes as not being “fusion” style but rather, food composed of pure, fresh ingredients. An example being our first dish.

“Crispy Tempura Maine Lobster, Malaysian Mango Slaw, Chinese Noodles with Sausage, Sesame Citrus Soy Dressing”

“Taittinger, Cuvee Prestige Brut, Reims, France”

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Chef Heirling starts the dish with live, 2 ½ lb. Maine Lobsters that are poached for exactly seven minutes. The meat is taken from the shell of the lobster and coated in “fermented rice flakes,” (not your Grannies crushed Rice Krispies), before it’s deep-fried for no longer than two minutes. The result is incredibly tender, buttery lobster coated with a light and crisp, (and quite unique), coating of rice.

“Miso-Glazed Sea Bass, Water Spinach, Lily Bulb, Lotus Seeds and Ginger Foam”

“Lergenmuller Riesling, ‘Schawer, Pfalz, 2005”

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Now for all of you who watch “Top Chef” on Bravo, you know that one previous contestant, the impish “Marcel,” was from Las Vegas. One of Marcel’s tricks was his insidious use of foams to garnish nearly every dish he presented to the judges. Marcel rarely used the foam accent to his advantage, and in most cases Marcel’s foams appeared to be an after-thought used only for the sake of being trendy.

Maybe Marcel was trying to copy the foam concept from some of the other, more masterful Chefs he knew in Las Vegas.

In the case of this dish, the Ginger Foam added an exotic scent and whisper of Asia to the Sea Bass basted with Sweet Miso.

A photograph of the beer brought by our “Sommelier” to pair with the main course-

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“Duo of Wagyu Kobe Beef, Sugar-Cured Striploin, Spring Pea Puree, Baby Porcini, Tamarind-Braised Shortrib, Pickled Green Mango and Onion Seed Grits”

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The shortrib-

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I’ve never seen both “Wagyu” and “Kobe” described on the same byline on a menu. Both meats were exceptional, albeit a bit out of character with one another. Standing alone, the more Western flavored Strip Loin with Pea Puree would have been fabulous without its cousin from the East. But I’ll never turn down beef for lunch with a big glass of beer. Given the heaviness of the meats, I would have preferred wine paired with the beef dishes, but the beer was fine.

And finally, the crescendo to a delectable Saturday lunch.

"The Lemon Drop"-

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That little raspberry at the bottom of the photo is sitting on a tiny pillow of “Mandarin Jelly.” I suggested that Chef Heirling place one of these fruit delights in the little box of cookies he sends home with each customer.

The “egg” at L’Atelier was quite incredible, but this whimsical cloud of meringue at Sensi took the concept of the “incredible, edible egg” to an even higher level.

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After breaking the “shell” of the “egg,” streams of “yoke” made of “Citrus Semifreddo and Pineapple Confit” flowed onto the plate, creating little rivers through the crisp shards of meringue.

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Chef Heirling’s success is being rewarded with a new assignment opening one of the hotels at the monumental “MGM City Center” project next to Bellagio-yet he will still oversee and cook in the kitchens at Sensi while attending to his new duties at City Center. More good fortunes are on the way for Chef Martin.

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Sorry, I forgot the second photo for the last post-the refreshing housemade Ginger Ale.

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Do you know why they used "Wagyu Kobe Beef" in the description? It seems pretentious, unless they were perhaps emphasizing that their Kobe beef actually came Japan (in which case it's still pretentious, just not as pretentious).

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Do you know why they used "Wagyu Kobe Beef" in the description?  It seems pretentious, unless they were perhaps emphasizing that their Kobe beef actually came Japan (in which case it's still pretentious, just not as pretentious).

Perhaps I am mistaken, but the impression I got was that the strip loin was wagyu while the short rib was true Kobe.

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Do you know why they used "Wagyu Kobe Beef" in the description?  It seems pretentious, unless they were perhaps emphasizing that their Kobe beef actually came Japan (in which case it's still pretentious, just not as pretentious).

Perhaps I am mistaken, but the impression I got was that the strip loin was wagyu while the short rib was true Kobe.

Correct you are-the menu description could have been a bit more descriptive. The Strip was Wagyu while the Short Rib was Kobe. They are doing a similar take on this theme over at CUT at The Palazzo. They offer a tasting of Kobe side by side with Wagyu.

And on a side note-most of the Chefs I spoke to in Las Vegas mentioned that they are getting their Wagyu from Snake River Farms in Idaho.

Another note about Sensi-all of the Chefs work with Chef Heirling to craft the desserts. Chef Heirling worked extensively in Switzerland and Austria in addition to his Native Germany so he is well-versed in pastry. He told us that he feels that staying involved in creating the desserts is an extension of the other cooking they do. Interesting.

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Friday, May 9, “Grand Tasting, Sip and Stroll” at Caesar’s Palace-

The Grand Tasting Event has become a cornerstone of the Bon Appetit Events-giving attendees the opportunity to “meet and greet” Chefs that represent over 50 of the top restaurants in Las Vegas. The food is as Grand as the Chefs-think in terms of having 50 plates of the signature dishes of Las Vegas. The Grand Tasting also affords one the chance to personally meet nationally recognized cookbook authors, (along with plenty of photo ops).

In the months leading up to Vegas Uncork’d, I wasn’t too keen on attending the Grand Tasting. I’ve never been a fan of large gatherings because I don’t feel like I ever get enough to eat! I never found it comfortable trying to navigate through hordes of people while balancing a plate of fruit and cheese in one hand while the other hand is grasping onto a flimsy plastic cup of bad white wine. That dreadful memory of the past lurked in my memory bank as I debated whether or not to attend the Tasting this year.

Luckily for me, two good friends whose penchant for fine food rivals my own tastes, stepped in and rescued me from the past-and made it quite clear that I would in fact have a wonderful time at the Grand Tasting. There would be no bad white wine served in plastic cups and the food would be exceptional they said. I bought the ticket—and I was glad that I did. The event was fabulous.

This year, the Grand Tasting was held on the “plaza” out front of Caesar’s Palace under a large tent. While the setting kept us out of the gaze of the throngs of tourists who were plodding up and down the strip, I felt somewhat trapped within the confines of a big tent. (In the past, the Grand Tasting was held in the pool area of Caesar’s-a beautiful, calm setting for an evening of tasting and sipping in Las Vegas).

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So far, my reports on Vegas Uncork’d have dispensed little in terms of gossip. But one cannot attend the Grand Tasting without relishing in a bit of teenage glee when you walk into the room and immediately spot so many “Celebrity Chefs.” To copy a phrase from the “Chairman,” (the one on Iron Chef), “if memory serves me right,” I spotted these Chefs at the Grand Tasting, (in no particular order or ranking in terms of culinary status):

-Guy Savoy, Wolfgang Puck, Daniel Boulud, Joel Robuchon, Hubert Keller, Richard Chen, Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feninger, David Burke, Bryan Ogden, Francois Payard and Kerry Simon. (And that’s just a few of the Chefs I remember were in the room).

Rivaling the celebrity “quotient” of the Chefs were the notable cookbook authors in the house, including:

-Dorie Greenspan, Cat Cora and Alan Richman.

Earlier in the day, while holding court at the head of the table at the “Editors-at-Lunch” Series at Sensi, Alan proclaimed that the “first five people who buy my book,” (“Fork it Over,” published by Harper Collins), would be given the opportunity to “accompany me on a restaurant review in New York.” There were chuckles at the lunch table-but I doubt few of the guests were seriously considering taking Alan up on his offer. I was.

Alan didn’t promise to pay for airfare, hotel and taxicab, but that didn’t really matter to me. If I could be first in line to snag the chance to dine with one of the top Food Writer’s in America on his home turf I wasn’t going to miss out.

After entering the event on the “blue carpet,” (the “red” carpet had not been rolled out for my arrival), into the Grand Tasting, I went straight for the “cookbook” corner to buy a copy of “Fork it Over.” As I gladly handed over my cash, someone tapped me on the shoulder from behind. It was Alan. I almost said “Oh, Shit” (maybe I did), I was so surprised.

Luckily, I hadn’t yet had any time to eat-because if my tummy was full, I probably would have lost that plate of tapas. I was caught with my hand in the cookie-jar, attempting to quietly be the first person at the event to buy “Fork it Over.” My plan was to wait off to the corner, out of eyesight, until Alan appeared on “stage” for his book signing. Then I’d pop out from stage left and say “aha, I’m first, I’m first, I get to eat with Richman in New York!” When Alan saw me buying his book the plan was exposed—and it was, quite literally, one of the most delightful surprises during my time in Las Vegas. As far as I know, the offer is still on the table.

After spending some time perusing the displays, it became very clear that this was not going to be your average catered affair of limpid asparagus and cold chicken.

Each restaurant maintained a “station” featuring samples of the most popular dishes from their restaurants. Hats off to the designers and planners from Bon Appetit who created these lovely signs at each booth that noted the Restaurant, the Chef and the dish served this evening.

“Auerole” at Mandalay Bay-

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“Clear Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho”-

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“Guy Savoy” at Caesar’s Palace-

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Displayed on a sparkling block of ice-

“Peas All Around and Poached Egg”-

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“Brand Steakhouse” at Monte Carlo-

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One of the top dishes I tasted tonight-

“New England Style Mini Lobster Roll on Crispy Brioche”-

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“Okada” at Wynn-

“Yellowtail Tartare in Crispy Taro Taco”-

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“Onda”Ristorante and Wine Lounge at The Mirage-

“Proscuitto Wrapped Scallop with Spinach and Butternut Squash”-

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I got caught up in the excitement of the evening and forgot to get photos of two of my favorite displays--the presentation of “Pork Belly with Steamed Chinese Buns,” from Chef Richard Chen of “Wing Lei” at Wynn--and just around the corner to the right, the scrumptious dessert bar of Lollipops, Ice Creams, Sorbets and Caramels, presented by Chef Hubert Keller’s “Fleur de Lys” at Mandalay Bay.

As I strolled out of the tent with my signed, “first copy” of Alan’s “Fork it Over,” I spotted someone with a television camera pointed toward two gentlemen who looked familiar. Most of the tourists walking by had no clue who they were. But our group of four stopped in our tracks. It was a once-in-a-lifetime snapshot of two of the world's culinary Masters standing together with Las Vegas as the backdrop.

Chef Daniel Boulud interviewing Chef Joel Robuchon for French television-

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Nice. :cool:

Thanks, much appreciated. I know this has been a very long, drawn-out post, but bear with me a bit longer. The next reports will focus on a private tour of the inner-workings of the Food and Beverage Operations at Wynn and then one last event connected with Vegas Uncork'd-luncheon with Daniel Boulud-and a separate dinner at CUT.

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David, I've been following this thread with interest. Thank you for sharing your dining experiences with us.

I have a question though. I have not attended a lot of multi course tasting menus in my life, but there have been a few, and even in the course of one evening I can be a victim of ´tasting tiredness´. You know, when you´ve tasted so many different things (not to mention, a lot of rich and heavy things) that it becomes very hard to actually taste. I call this museum syndrome because as much as I love art, it always happens to me in museums too: after intently focusing on about 10 works of art, my mind grows tired and it´s impossible for me to really appreciate anything, see things with fresh eyes.

How do you handle this when dealing with what´s obviously a bit of an eating marathon like this? I´m not talking about dealing with the mere quantity, although that might be an issue too, but how do you keep you palate fresh and interested for all those great and exciting flavors?

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David, I've been following this thread with interest. Thank you for sharing your dining experiences with us.

I have a question though. I have not attended a lot of multi course tasting menus in my life, but there have been a few, and even in the course of one evening I can be a victim of ´tasting tiredness´.  You know, when you´ve tasted so many different things (not to mention, a lot of rich and heavy things) that it becomes very hard to actually taste. I call this museum syndrome because as much as I love art, it always happens to me in museums too: after intently focusing on about 10 works of art, my mind grows tired and it´s impossible for me to really appreciate anything, see things with fresh eyes.

How do you handle this when dealing with what´s obviously a bit of an eating marathon like this? I´m not talking about dealing with the mere quantity, although that might be an issue too, but how do you keep you palate fresh and interested for all those great and exciting flavors?

Excellent question-and yes, the week was what one could describe as a "marathon" of eating.

Quantity is rarely an issue for me-not because I am the rotund man some know, but because I find that most tasting menus-the one at L'Atelier for example-are composed of very small plates. And when you dine at restaurants of the caliber of Michael Mina, L'Atelier or Ogden, you can generally be assured that the Chefs have crafted the Tasting Menu so that the dishes harmonize with one another to prevent you from becoming overly sated with too many competing flavors.

If the Chefs are on top of their game, they are going to present you with a menu of distinct flavors that start mildly-(say with a raw fish dish)-then build to a crescendo-(the more 'heavy' beef dish of short rib and strip loin at Sensi for example). The ending of the concert, if you will, are the sweet-dessert courses composed of sugars, (compared to the salts in the savory dishes), which will hopefully bring your palate back down.

In terms of practicality, I drink a LOT of ice water after these big meal forays and I never eat a big breakfast. I'll have coffee, some sort of bread and some fruit for breakfast. Partly so I'm not full as the day begins and mainly so my tastebuds aren't complicated by a plate of salty eggs and greasy bacon off the buffet displays.

Another key for me is to not over imbibe on the wine pairings-something I constantly find incredibly hard to do.

If you review the wines we had with the dinner at Michael Mina you'll see that each was chosen for that specific course. I try to stay true to the Chef and the Wine Sommelier and not keep the glass of Chablis on the table after the fish course is removed. Now I might have had more than just a taste of the Chablis-a second glass perhaps-but that's only while I'm having the appropriate dish.

If I keep the Chablis around and take the risk of taking a bit of the Lamb Dish and then another sip of Chablis, I've fallen into the trap of spoiling my palate. My tastes are now spoiled for that nice glass of Burgundy that is paired with the Lamb. So for me-to keep the palate fresh and interested in the next course, I keep the consumption of the wine within the boundaries of the course being served.

Hopefully that makes sense?

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Chufi-a few more hints about the "training regime" I follow when attending this type of food event.

Don't feel as though you absolutely have to attend every seminar, every tasting event, every private lunch or dinner, on and on. It can become overwhelming, tiring and truly a drain on your tastebuds.

Choose only the events that are of interest to you. I am sure they were great fun, but I wasn't interested in the "Cocktail Smackdown" or "Midnight Poker" events. And while I was interested in the "Rookies vs. Pro-Ams" cookoffs and the classes on Pastry, I just couldn't reasonably fit those within my time schedule.

And another part of my training regime that is probably at odds with most of the thousands who visit Las Vegas every day-a lot, a lot, of naps during the day between drink and eat fests.

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Saturday, May 10, a private tour of the Food and Beverage Department at Wynn-

The heart and soul of a great hotel is often found in the halls and workrooms “downstairs” beneath the bustling activity that goes on in the public rooms “upstairs.”

This morning I was one of a select group of about 20 who had been invited on a private tour of the inner-sanctum, (the “downstairs”), of the Food and Beverage Department at Wynn. Our host for the tour was Mr. Andrew Pascal, President and Chief Operating Officer of Wynn Las Vegas.

I am a simple man who loves food and cooking. I come from common stock so to speak and I’ve never been to Paris or New York. I write, in a somewhat amateurish voice, about food. I was quite honored, (although I’m still not sure what credentials I possess that snagged me the invitation), to be in the company of such studied food professionals as Barbara Fairchild of Bon Appetit, Dorie Greenspan-“Baking from My Home to Yours,” and John Curtas-KNPR Radio, KLAS-CBS Las Vegas and the James Beard Foundation.

We were given an insight that few people ever have the opportunity to see-the prodigious work of literally hundreds of craftsmen and women that takes place downstairs at Wynn out of the view of the public. Every day these talented people are creating a special experience for you and your family.

The payback of the tireless efforts of these employees is afforded you when you descend the grand staircase into dinner at “Alex.”

The perfume scent and pastel colors of the fresh floral arrangements, the yeasty aroma of the fresh-baked breads, the dazzling crystal stemware awaiting your wine service, the fresh-pressed linen napkins on the table-all manner of the attention to detail that takes place at the Wynn-and it’s that attention to detail that is intended to satisfy the pleasure of your evening-and set the Wynn apart from all other luxury hotels in Las Vegas. I had the chance to see the detail unfold.

The tour started in front of a non-descript gift shop. One feels quite important when your every move is anticipated by a large security detail of very large men dressed in natty suits and outfitted with wireless headsets. When you hear a big guy in sunglasses say “they’re on the move now, to the pastry kitchen,” you sort of feel important.

I hope you’ll find the photographs speak to the truth of why the Wynn is one of the top Hotels in the world.

Well-worn copper pots awaiting service in the Pastry and Candy Kitchens-

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Wynn employs 50, yes 50, full-time Pastry Chefs. Here are three of the Pastry Chefs preparing desserts to be served at the fabulous “Buffet at Wynn”-

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The Chef in the foreground is cutting puff pastry for tartlet shells, while the Chef in the background is finishing five sheets of lemon bars-blowtorch at the ready to caramelize the sugar that she will sprinkle on the top of the bars-

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Cinnamon Buns rising while they await baking and the hungry guests upstairs-

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How many dozens of eggs must they go through each day at Wynn?-

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The “Chocolate Lady.” She would become the centerpiece of a showcase display upstairs later in the day-

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This is not a flower distribution warehouse in downtown Las Vegas. It is the Floral Department at Wynn. Yes—an entire department, (and a very large one), dedicated to creating the masterpieces that adorn the hotel and its restaurants.

To the left, a familiar looking gentlemen, Chef Alex Stratta of “Alex” restaurant at Wynn. Chef spoke to the importance of marrying the décor and flower arrangements to the setting and the cuisine served at Alex. (Chef Stratta spotted some fresh, baby, purple artichokes that had come into the shop that morning. He was pondering using them on the evening’s tasting menu-but I think the Floral Shop had other plans for the artichokes)-

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Four “clouds” of flowers that will hang from above in the hotel-

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Some of the ladies who work in the “Wedding” department, creating the flowers for someone’s special day-

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Nature’s Beauty awaits-

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And Roses-

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Master French Bread Baker, young Chef Boris Villate. The Bread Shop employs 30 full-time Bakers in addition to the 50 Pastry Chefs.

Chef Villate and his staff bake 65 different breads every day for the guests at Wynn-

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Now if you remember, we have been debating the issue of the “soul” behind the fine dining scene of Las Vegas. As you read through this report of Wynn, I hope you’ll think about what you perceive to be the “heart and soul” behind a great restaurant. Or a great hotel for that matter.

I think you know where I stand on the issue, but let me give you another example-probably the greatest example from my trip-that relates to what I think is the truth behind the “soul” of one of the top restaurants in Las Vegas.

Chef Paul Bartolotta is the Master of seafood at Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare at Wynn. Chef Bartolotta recently won a prestigious Ivy Award sponsored by Restaurants and Institutions Magazine-one of only six awards presented this year.

Chef Bartolotta gave us a virtual tour of the seafood he imports fresh for the restaurant, (deliveries are made on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday)-

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Simply grilled and drizzled with olive oil or a touch of butter?-

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Chef Bartolotta showing us the distinct regions of Italy where some of the seafood is harvested-

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Wynn actually has a “Live Seafood” room, (well, not really a room but a huge, huge walk-in). At Wynn they actually employ a “Tank Master” to keep watch over the live seafood-

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Again-the attention to detail is quite remarkable-

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The Spiny Lobsters destined for Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare must be kept at the proper temperature and the salinity of the salt water is strictly regulated-

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The little devils waiting to be sacrificed for our delicious pleasure-

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Truly “First-Class” Travel! These Langoustines are deplaning from their private berths after an overnight flight from Europe.

A micro-chip is embedded into every case of seafood destined for Wynn Las Vegas. The shipments can be tracked every three hours-from the dock on the Coast of Sardinia, to Heathrow Airport, to Las Vegas Boulevard-

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It’s Saturday morning-Chef Bartolotta is preparing fresh seafood for us in the basement halls of Wynn Las Vegas-I am with friends-I am sucking the juices out of the heads of Langoustines-life is good-

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Soft-Shell Crabs-

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After the seafood extravaganza, we were ushered into the vast storage room that houses the valuable wine collections at Wynn.

I am not well-versed in wine, so I can’t tell you what a particular bottle should sell for in a restaurant. I can tell you that we tasted a “Heidi Barrett Cabernet” from Napa Valley that sells for $1,200 a bottle at SW Steakhouse.

The most expensive bottle in the Wynn collection sells for $100,000-a bottle of vintage Madeira from 1720.

Our security detail escorted us into a large service elevator. You know the kind, the big metal boxes with wire grates for doors. Out of nervousness, I looked over at the guy from Food Network and told him I thought we were going to be elevated up to the stage of “Monty Python’s Spamalot.” (Currently playing at Wynn).

The elevator delivered us back to whence we came-outside of the gift shop on the first floor. But the “surprise” was still to come.

We were whisked past two unassuming doors, (the type of doors with no signs and no indication as to what lies ahead).

We walked into what appeared to be a very exclusive apartment-first through the foyer, then the outer-room, then the inner-room. Whatever the proper term for the three rooms we passed through, stylish young ladies in properly tailored suits greeted us at each door.

One last turn and we were served with crystal flutes of what was no doubt vintage French Champagne-and then the surprise became a reality. Standing in line in the formal reception room to personally greet us were all of the Executive Chefs at Wynn, the first in line being Chef Daniel Boulud of Daniel Boulud Brasserie.

Imagine this reception line; Daniel Boulud, Alex Stratta-“Alex,” Paul Bartolotta-“Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare,” Masa Ishizawa-“Okada,” Rene Lenger-“The Country Club,” Richard Chen-“Wing Lei,” accompanied by some of the other talents of the kitchens at Wynn.

And then, strolling onto the patio, champagne in hand, this was the scene from our private villa overlooking the golf course-

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Sometimes restaurants and hotels are skeptical about giving access to the backstage areas of their production-especially a troop of food people. But if you are proud of your company and the employees whose hard work and creativity are the core to the success of your business, you are delighted to share your good fortunes.

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We had been treated to a very rare, exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the details that go into making your dining experience at Wynn memorable-an experience you will never forget. I know I won’t.


Edited by David Ross (log)

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David, I'm jealous. :angry:

I'm really jealous ... :angry::angry:

I shouldn't be surprised by the amount of preparation that goes on at a place like Wynn. Mind you, that tour was quite impressive.

Okay, David, how did the seafood taste?

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David, I'm jealous.  :angry:

I'm really jealous ...  :angry:  :angry:

I shouldn't be surprised by the amount of preparation that goes on at a place like Wynn. Mind you, that tour was quite impressive.

Okay, David, how did the seafood taste?

The langoustines and prawns were fresh, sweet and delicious. And the soft-shell crabs were the best-nice and crispy with all the gooey guts and meat bursting in your mouth with the first bite.

I think John and I surprised a few of the other guests with the crabs-we grabbed 'em and shoved 'em in our mouths whole-the people standing next to us didn't look like they knew what to do with a soft-shell crab.

So here were these two heathens sucking the juices out of the heads of prawns and devouring whole baby crabs in one gulp-at the luxe Wynn no doubt. That's what REALLY made it delicious.

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