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David Ross

Plan: 2010 Epicurean Affair Las Vegas

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I just found out that the 2010 Epicurean Affair in Las Vegas is scheduled for Thursday, September 9, at the pools at the Palazzo. I plan on packing my bags and heading South and will share a photo report of the event. I went last year and it was not only great fun, but a showcase for some of the great Chefs and Restaurants of Las Vegas to share their cuisine with the public. Yet aside from the fun, there's a more worthy cause behind the celebration-proceeds from the Epicurean Affair benefit culinary educational programs sponsored by the Nevada Restaurant Association.

Last year's event was held in April at the Flamingo and I found the setting down there a bit crowded and confusiong for the number of restaurants, chefs, vendors and people attending the event. You can read my report and see photos of the 2009 event here.

I think the pools of the Palazzo will present a more contemporary, open and comfortble environment for this year's event and there should be plenty of delicious food and drink.

Click here for the terms under which this event is listed in eG Forums.

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The Epicurean Affair at the Pools at the Palazzo tonight was a great success. I'll be posting photos tommorrow. In the meantime, my award for best dish of the night goes to Chef Luciano Pellegrini's "Roast Suckling Pig with Escargot Wrapped in Bacon," served over creamy polenta. Now imagine that folks, such a dish served on a small plate at a tasting event. The baby pig was delicious, but the combination of smoked bacon wrapped around a briny, rich, snail was the stunning element of the dish.

One would expect nothing less from an unassuming James Beard award-winning Chef. Delicious.

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The Epicurean Affair at the Pools at the Palazzo tonight was a great success. I'll be posting photos tommorrow. In the meantime, my award for best dish of the night goes to Chef Luciano Pellegrini's "Roast Suckling Pig with Escargot Wrapped in Bacon," served over creamy polenta. Now imagine that folks, such a dish served on a small plate at a tasting event. The baby pig was delicious, but the combination of smoked bacon wrapped around a briny, rich, snail was the stunning element of the dish.

One would expect nothing less from an unassuming James Beard award-winning Chef. Delicious.

He's the chef at Valentino in the Venetian right? He had one of the best dishes at the Uncork'd Grand Tasting. And he was at the station all night cooking and plating it for everyone.

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The Epicurean Affair at the Pools at the Palazzo tonight was a great success. I'll be posting photos tommorrow. In the meantime, my award for best dish of the night goes to Chef Luciano Pellegrini's "Roast Suckling Pig with Escargot Wrapped in Bacon," served over creamy polenta. Now imagine that folks, such a dish served on a small plate at a tasting event. The baby pig was delicious, but the combination of smoked bacon wrapped around a briny, rich, snail was the stunning element of the dish.

One would expect nothing less from an unassuming James Beard award-winning Chef. Delicious.

He's the chef at Valentino in the Venetian right? He had one of the best dishes at the Uncork'd Grand Tasting. And he was at the station all night cooking and plating it for everyone.

He is the Chef at Valentino indeed. And, just like he did at the Grand Tasting at Uncork'd, Chef Pellegrini was at The Epicurean Affair all night at his little station cooking and plating alongside with his staff.

I spoke to Chef later and he told me that while the Escargot were described as being "wrapped in bacon," that was merely the simplest way to explain the dish to the large crowd of people that would be passing by for a tasting. The snails were actually wrapped in guanciale that he buys from a special source. And that's the perfect introduction to begin the photo portion of the report.

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The pools at The Palazzo presented the perfected outdoor setting for the Epicurean Affair as only Las Vegas can and the fun was tempered with a serious note since proceeds from the event sponsored by the Nevada Restaurant Associaton benefit educational programs for people entering into the culinary arts.

Nero's Steak and Seafood at Caesar's Palace-

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Guy Savoy at Caesar's Palace-

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Nobu at the Hard Rock Hotel-

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A local cupcake bakery-

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I was visiting with some of the Chefs and Sommeliers at the event and I asked them about the local economy in Las Vegas and how it was affecting their businesses. As we all know, the national unemployment rate is hovering at hearly 9%, (depending on which poll or media outlet you listen to). According to a friend of mine who lives in Las Vegas, the unemployment rate in Clark County is upwards of 15% and Southern Nevada continues to lead the nation in home foreclosures. All these factors have had a negative influence on travel to Las Vegas, which in turn has had an impact on the people who work in the industry.

I've learned that the steakhouses in the large strip hotels have traditionally been the top wine-selling restaurants in Las Vegas in terms of both volume and revenue. 2007 was the peak year for travel and excess in Las Vegas and then the big slide began. Since then, the figures for wine sales have fallen drastically and so far in 2010, wine sales are off upwards of 35% at some restaurants. While volume may not be off that far, bottles that formerly sold for $200, (and were marked-up at horrific levels), are now being listed at $50-$80.

The points are not surprising--a city of indulgence is suffering far worse than other parts of the country. Yet it did give me pause to reflect and realize that supporting the Chefs, restaurants and employees of their establishments during these hard times, (and by association, the vendors and farmers who provide them with products), is all the more important--whether it be in Las Vegas or the much smaller city where I live.

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