Emeril’s New Look, Beni’s New Spot and the Chili Cook-off Comes in Hot


Chef Beni Velazquez

Emeril Lagasse was in town last week to show off the renovations to his flagship Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House (702-891-7374) in MGM Grand. Lagasse was one of the first celebrity chefs to open a restaurant in Las Vegas when he debuted the Fish House nearly 20 years ago. Earlier this year, plywood went up in front of the entrance so workers could give the classic spot a face-lift. Lagasse was personally on hand October 9 to show off the new look and serve new menu items for invited guests at a cocktail reception. Emeril told me his favorite part of the redesign is the casual oyster bar. Don’t miss the lollipop-cut frog’s legs or the alligator meatballs. (Tip: It’s not on the menu, but if you ask nicely, they just might make those meatballs into a po’ boy for you.)

Beni Velazquez has also gone fishing, putting the finishing touches on his new restaurant, Latin Fish, in the Desert Shores location that previously housed Garfield’s. The chef best known for his work at Arts District favorite Bar + Bistro will offer the small plates and Latin fusion style for which he’s acclaimed, but with a concentration on sustainable seafood. “We’re gonna do some really cool stuff with crab and lobster,” he says. Other plans include a variety of ceviche and a selection of sangria. Velazquez says he was inspired to concentrate on seafood when he saw the restaurant’s waterfront location, which reminded him of time spent in Marina Del Rey. Latin Fish is scheduled to open its doors the first week of November.

If meat’s more your thing, you won’t have to wait long as the World’s Championship Chili Cook-Off returns to Las Vegas, October 24–26 as part of the Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough World Finals. It will be in the Tyson Fan Zone and Marketplace in the MGM Resort Village across from Luxor. More than 400 chefs will compete over three days in categories, including chili verde, salsa, homemade chili and traditional red chili. They’ll be vying for a share of $55,000, with the top prize of $25,000 going to the best traditional red chile. Other entertainment will include the Miss Chili Pepper, Mister Hot Sauce and Shoot ’n’ Holler contests—whatever those may be. Admission is free, and the event is open to the public.

Meanwhile, chefs from our own city have been toiling in another competition. Production company Relativity Media spent eight nights in the Palms’ parking lot starting October 4, shooting episodes of a new TV show, Late Night Chef Fight. The show is based on the Back of House Brawl cooking competitions staged by Jolene Mannina in the Tommy Rocker’s parking lot. Just like the Tommy Rocker’s competitions, each of the eight episodes pits two prominent Las Vegas chefs against one another, cooking with mystery ingredients onboard food trucks. Mannina co-hosts, along with local chef Vic “Vegas” Moea and Laila Ali. (I’d been hoping to serve on a judge’s panel, but the TV gods were not that kind to me.) Look for it on FYI Network.


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