The Venetian and the Palazzo seem like the center of the culinary universe this time of year. Last week was the inaugural La Cucina Italiana festival, jam-packed with all things Italian and Mario Batali, and this weekend the properties pick up right where they left off, this time with Emeril Lagasse filling in celebrity-chef duties. If you’re looking to check out a food battle, watch mixologists duke it out or see who is named the best restaurant in Nevada, your destination is the southeast corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Spring Mountain Road.
Winner Takes All
Gather nearly all the executive chefs of the restaurants in the Venetian and the Palazzo, give them a mystery basket of ingredients, then throw them into mobile food truck kitchens on the Venetian’s Doges Plaza, and this is the Culinary Clash.
The competitors are pitted against each other bracket style, with Lagasse as judge throughout the weekend. Sixteen restaurants go head-to-head in first-round eliminations starting at 7 p.m. on December 13, when Mario Batali’s Carnevino steakhouse battles Taqueria Cañonita. The elite eight move on to Rounds 2 and 3 the following night, and all scores are settled when the finalists face-off at 10 p.m. December 14.
Masters of Mixology is a new element to the Culinary Clash this year, hosted by world-famous mixologist Dale DeGroff. Las Vegas’ friendly rival celebrity mixologists Tony Abou-Ganim and Francesco Lafranconi each lead a team of four bartenders to compete against each other in several rounds. It all starts with a blind tasting and aperitivo presentation on December 13, followed by mystery basket, speed contest and final judging on December 14. Judges include DeGroff and Vegas Seven senior editor Xania Woodman.
Winners for both competitions take bragging rights, as well as a trip to Italy, to learn more about the Italian-ness that inspires his or her home property.
Practicing Acceptance Speeches in Mirrors Finally Pays Off
The hospitality industry folk will come out and play (on a Friday night, even!) to honor each other in the inaugural Best of Silver State Restaurants & Lounges Awards on December 13, happening just before Culinary Clash and Masters of Mixology. Sort of like the Oscars for Nevada restaurants, this is the night to come out and hobnob with the biggest names in the industry, starting with a silent auction and Champagne reception at 5 p.m.
Some 13,000 ballots were cast to pick this year’s winners in 17 categories such as Best Sunday Brunch, Best Neighborhood Restaurant and Best Interior Design: Bar, Lounge, Nightclub. Even Lagasse will be on hand as a special guest presenter. Honorary awards commemorate longevity and innovation in the business to distinguished recipients such as Sirio Maccioni, Kerry Simon and Alex Stokes. With that many restaurateurs in the room, there’s bound to be a killer after-party. $40, Sands Showroom in the Venetian, NVRestaurants.com.