If you’ve ever fantasized about cooking on the Food Network, here’s your chance (minus the drama queens and the sad being-sent-home bits). Food University at Caesars Palace (March 27-29, $1,995, FoodUniversityLasVegas.com) is where cooking-show fanatics can get off their couches and into a classroom for nine hands-on sessions taught by renown chefs during a breakneck 72 hours in one of the world’s top international dining destinations.
Founded in 2006 by Rich Gore, culinary entertainment producer and former Food Network president of live events, Food U earned rave student feedback as it ambled across the country in fits and starts, without a steady home. With illustrious chefs leading instruction, these celebrity-loaded events caught the eye of Robin Leach (longtime lifestyle writer, Food Network co-founder and former Gore colleague) for the intimate and immersive experience students got by cooking beside culinary behemoths. Leach helped Gore bring the format to Las Vegas for its promise to both entertain and empower students to go home and actually put their new skills to use.
Tuition includes nine classes, three food-related seminars, field trips to observe the inner workings of two premier Las Vegas restaurants, all breakfasts and lunches, utensils and ingredients. Food U’s inaugural round of celebrity-studded faculty includes Duff Goldman (owner of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore and Los Angeles, and Cakemix in West Hollywood); François Payard (owner of Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro in Caesars Palace); Christina Wilson (winner of Season 10 of Hell’s Kitchen); Frank Pellegrino Jr. (chef and owner of Rao’s in Caesars Palace and in New York City); and Steve Martorano (author and chef/owner of Martorano’s at Rio).
So if it’s been awhile since you’ve been in school, just remember this math: 9 classes + 3 chefs = 1 diploma … and the chance to quip that Duff brushed your hand with his pastry bag and actually mean it.