Haute Event: Food & Wine’s All-Star Weekend Kicks Off with Four Epicurean Events

Desserts created by chefs Vincent Pilon, Bruno Riou and Orady Ditgnavong at miX Lounge. Photos: MGM Resorts International

At the MGM Grand Food & Wine All-Star Weekend host Gail Simmons welcomed guests to an afternoon tea at Joël Robuchon. James Beard-nominated executive pastry chef Kamel Guechida created desserts such as L’Ananas, a pineapple-infused dessert with vanilla, gingersnap cookie crumbs and pumpkin spice cream and a selection of the restaurant’s famous mignardises.

Simmons asked Guechida questions regarding his inspiration and how his desserts represent Chef of the Century Joël Robuchon. Guechida enlightened guests on the importance of using only the finest ingredients and his mission to create special memories for everyone that dines at the restaurant.

MGM Grand’s next event showcased tequila during a tasting at Diego. Executive chef and Food Network’s “Chopped” champion Christina Olivarez served up taquitos, empanadas and shrimp ceviche verde. The crowd favorite was chef Olivarez’s Cochinita Pibil — a carved, whole-roasted suckling pig marinated in achiote and sour orange and wrapped in banana leaves. Several tequila tasting stations kept the party lively

At the Bellagio, director of wine and master sommelier Jason Smith brought together a group of his talented peers for Master Sommeliers Who Make Wine inside the resort’s high-tech, interactive exhibition Tuscany Kitchen. Guests sipped an array of fine wines from around the world and had the opportunity to hear from Smith, as well as Bobby Stuckey, Richard Betts and Emmanuel Kemiji, Master Sommeliers turned winemakers.

The group told stories of their personal journeys to earning the distinguished accolade; Smith sharing that he originally wanted to work as a chef but in culinary school, his eyes were opened by the complex, wondrous world of wine. Among the personal wines served were a 2011 Scarpetta Sauvignon Blanc; Grammercy Cellars Syrah, Walla Walla 2010; and a 2010 Miura Pinot Noir, Pisoni Vineyard.

Rounding out the first day was the Sweet Strip Viewing party at miX Lounge, atop THEhotel at Mandalay Bay. Mix executive chef Bruno Riou, miX executive pastry chef Orady Ditgnavong and Mandalay Bay executive pastry chef Vincent Pilon crafted a decadent menu complemented by the lounge’s Strip view. Guests enjoyed signature cocktails and expertly crafted desserts, including a delectable assortment of flavored macaroons, meringues and marshmallows, as well as Chocolate Raspberry Linzer cookies and Religieuse Passion desserts.

Click on the photos below to enlarge.

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