Las Vegas Welcomes Bocuse d’Or to the Strip

The grand banquet room at Ultimo

The grand banquet at Ultimo

If you’ve never been to Ultimo , the Venetian and the Palazzo’s most elaborate culinary weekend, this is the one you can’t miss. The romance of Italy is celebrated with lavish feasts, usually featuring rare wines and dinners with world-renowned chefs. But this year, from December 17-20, Ultimo will go even bigger, hosting four days of extravagant meals inspired by the elements.

In addition to such celebrated chefs as Grant Achatz, Tom Colicchio and Ming Tsai joining the fray, Ultimo will host the qualifying competition to determine who will represent the United States at the prestigious biennial Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, France, in 2017.

If you didn’t know, Bocuse d’Or is the most prestigious culinary competition for young chefs. This Las Vegas event will host 400 of the world’s culinary elite, including Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller, along with Jerome Bocuse, who are founders of the Ment’or BKB Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring culinary excellence and preserving the traditions and quality of cuisine in America. Last year, the American team took the silver medal, the highest our country has ever ranked.

The weekend kicks off December 17 with the all-day competition, followed by Celebrating Earth: An Evening of Truffles, Wild Game & Tradition, held in the Venezia Colonnade. Participating chefs include Jerome Bocuse, Traci des Jardins and Josiah Citrin.

Take to the air December 18 with the Grand Banquet: Dinner in the Clouds. Held in the spectacular Grand Colonnade, guests will dine at a table made of glass, seated on clear acrylic chairs and experience other ethereal effects. This dinner hosts the who’s who of chefs in town this weekend, with dishes prepared by Keller, Achatz, Tsai, Shaun Hergatt and Philip Tessier, who won the silver medal for the U.S. last year.

Water is represented on the Grand Canal, of course, with a Floating Luncheon on December 19, when gondoliers will serve prosecco from their boats. Lots of seafood is in store for the 50 lucky guests who get to dine on an acrylic platform above the canal.

The final day, fire comes into play with an outdoor meal at the Doge’s Palace, where guests will sip on Krug Champagne while watching big steaks, whole fish and an entire pig roast over an open flame. The party then moves into the exclusive Piaza Club for a meal by Venetian and Palazzo executive chef Olivier Dubreuil, as well as Dario Cecchini, the famed Chianti “Butcher of Panzano.”

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