Brawl With the Pros, One Last Affair, and Beer vs. Wine


Wanna hang out where the chefs do? Try Tommy Rocker’s, this Saturday night, Back of House Brawl. And this one is going to be a doozy. Since it’s during Vegas Uncork’d weekend, organizer Jolene Mannina has brought out the big guns. Competing at 1 a.m. will be Michael Chen of Yellowtail in Bellagio against Brian Lhee of Yusho in Monte Carlo, each in the food truck of his choosing. The basket of secret ingredients will be revealed at 1 a.m., and then the chefs have 30 minutes to prepare a dish to impress the judges (one of whom happens to be me). By the end of Saturday night service, plenty of chefs should be ready to blow off steam, so in addition to the brawl, expect a rowdy and fun time.

It’s that time of year when Las Vegas tries to squeeze in all of its dine-arounds before the weather becomes too hot to eat food next to a pool. So if you’re going to get one last food festival in, it should be the Las Vegas Epicurean Affair on May 22. Now in its fifth year at Palazzo ($105; $155 early admission), the event sponsored by the Nevada Restaurant Association always brings out the food-and-beverage execs and plenty of service-industry folk. Bites from Postrio, Delmonico, Morels, STK and Bouchon are on the menu, and proceeds benefit the association’s educational and scholarship funds, including ProStart, a national high school culinary and hospitality program.

I prefer to call the ground floor at FAME (in the Linq, 702-463-8000) an indoor dine-around rather than a food court. In Asia, it’d simply be called hawker stalls. Dedicated to the great street cuisine of Thailand, Japan and Vietnam, among others, the area now has a tenant for its food-truck station, opening this month: Fukuburger. The popular mobile kitchen will fit right in with its signature Tamago burger, topped with furikake (a dried seaweed mix), teriyaki, wasabi mayo, crispy onion strings and a fried egg, or the Naga Dog, a one-third-pound hot dog topped with grilled kimchi, daikon relish and more wasabi mayo. But Fukuburger is working on some new items they’ll be throwing into the mix to feed future members of the Fuku—and now FAME—family.

The fanciest beer versus wine showdown ever takes place May 21 when Mandalay Bay food-and-beverage director and certified cicerone Sarah Johnson goes head-to-nose with director of wine Harley Carbery for a dinner at Mix ($125, in Mandalay Bay). Each course is paired with their respective libations: Johnson will present beers by Firestone Walker Brewing Company, while Carbery features Herman Story Wines. Winemaker Russell From and brewmaster Matthew Brynildson will even be on hand to tag team with more wine and beer knowledge as needed. The five-course menu by Mix executive chef Bruno Riou should easily stand up to both pairings, with dishes such as bigeye tuna tartare with crunchy vegetables and satay sauce alongside Firestone Walker’s Easy Jack and Tomboy 2009, or the filet mignon with shiitake gratin and stuffed piquillos served with Stickee Monkee and Nuts & Bolts 2012. This is an evening that will go down in history—or at the very least, down the hatch.