Haute Event: Vegas Uncork’d Hosts a Poker Tournament, the Grand Tasting

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Chef David Myers appears at Vegas Uncork'd by Bon Appetit's Grand Tasting event at Caesars Palace.

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas kicked off their first year as a participating resort at Vegas Uncork’d with the highly anticipated Paella Lunch at Jaleo. Chefs José Andrés showed a captivated audience how to prepare paella on a wood-fired paella grill, the only one in the U.S., and advised them to start with a small paella pan instead of a large one. The engaging chef also spent time with guests at their tables to the delight of many.

At Bellagio, food and wine lovers sampled favorites of Raj Parr, Mina Group’s Wine Director, Jason Smith, Master Sommelier and Bellagio’s Wine Director, and Carlos Splendorini at My Favorite Things. Attendees were taken on an adventure of culinary delights with The Violet Femme, a dish with Encanto Pisco, Crème De Violette, honey and lavender; Hamachi Crudo, a sake-cured cucumber with sea bream emulsion paired with Yoshinogawa Winter Warrior Junmai Ginjo Sake; Liberty Farms Duck with Stewed Rhubarb and Foie Gras Kumquat paired with Au Bon Climat Sanford & Benedic;, and ended with a refreshing Passion Fruit Panna Cotta with a Coconut-Lime Sorbet paired with Kracher Cuvee Beerenauslese.

The day continued to heat up with Border Grill’s Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger and Executive Chef Michael Minor at Too Hot Tamales at Mandalay Bay. After ensuring all guests had a spicy Cucumber Jalapeño Margarita in hand, the chefs launched their cooking demonstration serving up a Smoky Bean, Bacon And Avocado Tostada, Tomatillo Glazed Ribs with Esquite and Churro Tots as they teased and joked with each other on topics from foie gras to their trainee days. They also shared with guests that one good kitchen knife beats a dozen of poorly made knife and the secret to purchasing one.

Competition was fierce by the Fountains of Bellagio as Bellagio Master Mixologist Matt Myers and Hyde Bellagio Mixologist Jose Zepeda served up cocktail concoctions amongst friendly ribbing and laughs during Mix-up. Cocktail lovers were able to sample each cocktail and vote for their favorites.

At Mandalay Bay, David Lynch, Bon Appétit’s wine editor, and Raj Parr, taught a captivated crowd how to pair affordable wines with elevated menus. Five wines ranging from moderately priced to “break-the-bank” were served during each of the four courses prepared by Chef Michael Mina and discerning palates were surprised to discover new wines within their price range that can perfectly match with other higher-priced bottles.

Wine connoisseurs were challenged by David Lynch, Raj Parr and Jason Smith at the Sip, Swirl & Select Like a Sommelier blind tasting at Bellagio. Attendees learned to techniques to taste like sommelier and were tested with a high-quality, moderately priced wine and a “break-the-bank” bottle. Lively debate ensured as guests attempted to identify wines with others at their table and all left feeling like professional sommeliers with their new tasting skills.

This year’s Grand Tasting event opened its doors to a sold-out crowd of 2,500 and transformed the Garden of Gods pool into an epicurean paradise. Food lovers were delighted to find a star-studded red carpet with chefs from Bellagio, Caesars Palace, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and Mandalay Bay such as Gordon Ramsay, Todd English, Francois Payard, Nobu Matsuhisa, David Myers, Bradley Ogden, Charlie Palmer, Rick Moonen, José Andrés and Guy Savoy and Scott Conant upon arrival. Merriment was in the air as chefs and guests mingled and laughed while enjoying tasty dishes prepared by more than 50 award-winning chefs and over 100 of the best wines from around the world.

The party continued at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas with the Celebrity Chef Poker Tournament at The Boulevard Pool with juicy sliders from STK, signature cocktails from David Myer’s 18A cocktail program and pulsing beats by Mia & Caitlin. Guests and chefs including Rick Moonen, Susan Feniger, Jean-George Vongerichten, José Andrés, Bruce Bromberg, Scott Conant and Stephen Hopcraft put on their best poker face at the tables and after an intense two-hour poker tournament, Mario Disi, General Manager of Scarpetta, emerged as the winner and Andrew Knowlton, Bon Appétit’s restaurant and drinks editor, followed as a runner-up. All prize winnings were donated to Communities In Schools, Opportunity Village and Vegas Roots Community Gardens.

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