Bon Appetit: James Beard Foundation Recognizes Top Chefs of Vegas

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The culinary world shined a bright light on Las Vegas chefs when it handed out its coveted 2010 James Beard Foundation Awards, one of the highest marks of distinction within the culinary community, Monday night.

Claude Le Tohic, executive chef of Joël Robuchon at the MGM Grand, received the Best Chef Southwest, beating out two other local chefs, Rick Moonen of RM Seafood in Mandalay Bay and Saipin Chutima of Lotus of Siam. Robuchon opened his first fine dining restaurant in the United States at MGM Grand in 2005, and since, the hot spot has become the most award-winning restaurant in Las Vegas.

That doesn’t mean that Moonen didn’t receive accolades. His hosting duties on the PBS show “Chefs A’ Field: King of Alaska” earned him a win in the Television Show, On Location category. In Chef Moonen’s episode of the Emmy Award-nominated series, he navigates the mighty Yukon River in search of the region’s legendary King Salmon, which he calls, “The best fish I ever ate.”  With the Native Yup’ik as his guide, Moonen fishes the glacier-fed waters and discusses the importance of salmon to the Alaskan people and the environmental future of the pristine river.

Chefs with Vegas restaurants received recognition for their outposts outside of Sin City. “Top Chef” judge Tom Colicchio won the Outstanding Chef Award for his restaurant Craft in Manhattan. He has Tom Colicchio Craftsteak at the MGM Grand. Daniel Boulud won Outstanding Restaurant for Daniel in Manhattan. He has Daniel Boulud Brasserie at Wynn Las Vegas, which closes June 1. Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s sommelier Bernard Sun won for his Manhattan restaurant. He has Jean-Georges at Aria in CityCenter and Prime at the Bellagio.

The connections don’t end there. Timothy Hollingsworth of Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., was named Rising Star Chef. Hollingsworth honed his culinary skills at Keller’s Bouchon at the Venetian. The whole event was co-hosted by Wolfgang Puck, who has seven restaurants here in Las Vegas: Spago at the Forum Shops at Caesars, Brasserie PUCK and The Pods by Wolfgang Puck at Crystals at CityCenter, Postrio Bar & Grill at the Venetian, CUT at the Palazzo, Trattoria del Lupo at Mandalay Bay and Springs Cafe by Wolfgang Puck at Springs Preserve.

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