UNLVino continued its line-up of beverage tastings with Sake Fever at the Mirage’s resort pool. Chef Masaharu Morimoto, known to millions as the star of Iron Chef and Iron Chef America, was honored with the Dom Pérignon Award of Excellence for his recent Culinary Hall of Fame induction, collection of renowned restaurants, and unrivaled win-loss record on Iron Chef.
Accepting his award, Chef Morimoto said, “Thank you very much, Las Vegas is my dream city. I am very honored by this event — when I came to the United States in 1985, I would have never imagined a Sake Festival, and now here are thousands of people at Sake Fever!”
He surprised the audience by continuing with, “I have been in this country for thirty something years, and yes, I still I have a language problem — but I can sing!” Morimoto then belted out a traditional Japanese song that had the crowd roaring with applause, and further proved he is a man of many talents. When the song concluded, emcee Chet Buchanan exclaimed, “Who knew we would get a concert too!”
Some highlights of the night include:
Guests were welcomed to the sounds of traditional Japanese drums as performed by Karabo Taiko Drums.
Chef Masaharu Morimoto, the evening’s honoree, took pictures with guests and jokingly tried to play the traditional Japanese drums that were on stage.
Guests sampled close to 100 imported and domestically brewed sakes and beers, including TY KU Sake Silver Junmai, Gekkeikan Black and Gold, Pacific International Liquor Kurosawa Daiginjo, Dreyfus Ashby Hakutusuru Draft Sake, and many more.
Guests enjoyed signature dishes from a collection of Las Vegas’ favorite local restaurants, including Aburiya Raku, Fin, Island Sushi Hawaiian Grill, Japonais Restaurant and Lounge, Kabuki Japanese Restaurant, Monta Ramen, Naked Fish, Social House, SushiSamba and Zenshin.
Naked Fish had guests lining up to taste fresh sashimi cut from a 250 pound tuna they had brought in for the occasion.
An official sake barrel ceremony took place on the main stage, intended to ward off bad spirits and involved using a hammer to break open a traditionally decorated barrel of sake. The participants included the Mirage president Trevor Scherrer; president of Morimoto Management Mark Stone; chef Morimoto; Michael Severino, and Larry Ruvo; sales manager of the Western Region for Gekkeikan Sarturo Ito, and Asian portfolio director Luis de Santos, helped present the barrel ceremony in Japanese and English, respectively.
Click on the photos below to enlarge.