On Thursday night, some of the finest chefs in the world put their talents on display at Caesars Palace for the first night of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit. Renowned chefs Bobby Flay, Michel Richard, François Payard, Guy Savoy and the Pellegrino and Straci families that serve as the foundation of Rao’s restaurant, prepared special menus as part of the sold out Master Series dinners.
Ticketed guests had the unique opportunity to dine on dishes prepared by celebrated chefs, while sipping on wine specially paired with the multi-course menus. Guests at these exclusive dinners had the opportunity to interact and have a truly personal experience with culinary masters.
Bobby Flay, one of the world’s best known chefs, hosted an intimate “Spices of Life” dinner at Mesa Grill. In true Bobby Flay style, the meal was comprised of four dishes with seven different chilli peppers. Flay was joined by Editor-in-Chief of Bon Appétit Adam Rapoport who told the crowd, “He knows chilies; that’s what he does.”
Flay also surprised the guests by changing the dessert from what was listed on the menu. He had originally planned to serve crème brulee, but decided to finish off the meal with a chocolate tart wrapped in a unique pretzel crust. The salty and sweet concoction with a little bit of spice did not disappoint. Chef Flay answered questions, made jokes and chatted with his dinner guests. One gentleman told him that he makes great habanero wings and Flay responded, “Are you ready for a wing throwdown?”
The newest addition to the Master Series dinners was Chef Michel Richard, who, along with Bon Appétit’s Contributing Wine Editor David Lynch, hosted a five-course dinner with wine pairings at Central, which opened less than a year ago. Since opening, Central Michel Richard was named one of 2012’s Top Ten New Restaurants in the U.S. by Gayot. Sophie Gayot was in attendance and welcomed the crowd of almost 100 people to the dinner, mentioning that Richard is one of five chefs with a 19 out of 20 rating from Gayot.com. Richard responded by saying, “In school I was always a two or a three; in restaurants I’m a 19!”
Guests had the opportunity to get up close and personal with pastry master François Payard in his intimate dining room. The six-course tasting menu featured rack of lamb and pan-seared turbot along with a dessert of seared pineapple, tapioca parfait, coconut sorbet and pineapple chips. Guests were welcomed by Bon Appétit Collection Chef Ryan Scott who introduced Chef Payard by saying, “I have no French accent so I call him Francis.” Payard told the group, “My idea of opening this place in Las Vegas was not to open a restaurant, but to create an experience.”
Restaurant Guy Savoy treated guests to six courses of refined elegance including the famed artichoke and black truffle soup. Michelin Star Chef Guy Savoy interacted with guests and took photos. Andrew Knowlton, restaurant and drinks editor for Bon Appétit who has hosted a Master Series dinner every year since the inception six years ago, greeted guests explaining, “They never let me host Guy Savoy and I was always jealous of those who did. But this year, they let me crash the party.”
Guests were treated, and fed, like family at Rao’s, enjoying roasted peppers, stuffed calamari, seared scallops, veal short ribs and of course, Rao’s famous meatballs. The evening was hosted by the Rao’s and Straci families as well as Chef de Cuisine Mary Nolan from Bon Appétit. Frank Pellegrino Jr. told the crowd that Vegas Uncork’d is, “one of the best culinary events in the country and on the planet.”
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