Sharpen Your Sabers for the Return of Vegas Uncork’d

A general view of the Vegas Uncork'd by Bon Appetit's Grand Tasting event at Caesars Palace on May 10, 2013.  | Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A general view of the Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit’s Grand Tasting event at Caesars Palace on May 10, 2013. | Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Even though it’s still several months away, food lovers from around the country have already begun their collective salivation for one of the largest culinary weekends in the country: Vegas Uncork’d. Now in its eighth year, the four-day gourmet party sponsored by Bon Appétit returns for a feeding frenzy that showcases some 70 chefs and 20 sommeliers through 50 events over Mother’s Day weekend, May 8-11.

Tickets for the festival went on sale last week, and within a few hours, foodies hungrily snatched up seats for some prime events. Unless you were quick on the draw, you will have to miss out on sushi making and sake tasting with Nobu Matsuhisa, Old Homestead’s Master Series dinner and learning pastry tips from François Payard. The most coveted ticket appears to be for the cooking and wine demonstration with Chef of the Century Joël Robuchon, which sold out in 90 minutes.

While Guy Savoy’s May 8 master series dinner is also sold out, you can still throw down for the Krug Chef Table for six (for $5,000) on the same evening. If you think that the price tag a bit exorbitant, it’s worth a mention that the chef’s table is literally inside the Guy Savoy kitchen, so close that the chefs are practically hand-feeding you.

New to the Uncork’d schedule is a mega-collaboration between American contemporary master Shawn McClain of Sage and Five50 in Aria and French culinary god Pierre Gagnaire of Twist in Mandarin Oriental for A Twist on Dinner ($400 per person) on May 8. The more casual Chef’s Counter ($175 per person) puts celebrity chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Michael Mina behind the stations at the buffet in Aria on May 10.

The Venetian returns to the festivities with its arsenal of chefs, including Mario Batali, Thomas Keller and Buddy Valastro, as well as chefs from sister property Marina Bay Sands Singapore in The Night Market: East Meets West ($140 per person) on May 8. The Night Market also is the battleground for the second annual Chase Sapphire Preferred Grill Challenge, where two students from Las Vegas’ Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts compete against each other, paired with professional chefs in their corners, to win $20,000.

The anchor to the entire weekend, The Grand Tasting ($300 early VIP admission, $225 general admission)—or what I affectionately call the Food Nerd Prom—takes place once again around the five acres of Caesars Palace’s Garden of the Gods pool, and this is the one place where you’ll see just about every culinary star Las Vegas has to offer. I’ll be the one wearing the corsage while trying to get my picture taken with Chef Robuchon. Again.


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