The Grand Tasting of Vegas Uncork'd

Relishing Vegas Uncork’d, Year 10

Caesars-Palace-Chefs-at-Grand-Tasting-(Dave-Becker,-Getty-for-Vegas-Uncork'd)

Photo by Dave Becker, Getty for Vegas Uncork’d

Vegas Uncork’d turned 10 this year, and there was much to celebrate and digest as food lovers attended some two dozen events and got up close and personal with world-renowned chefs. Our staff attended as many as we could, but hey, we can only eat so much in four days. Here are the highlights:

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Daniel Boulud

Saber Off

Before anyone sips the first glass of champagne, before the first guest gets seated at an intimate dinner hosted by a celebrity chef, Vegas Uncork’d doesn’t officially begin until a culinary master has lopped the top off a bottle of prosecco. It’s one of my favorite events that’s a privilege to attend, as it usually only includes the chefs, media and a few select sponsor guests. It’s a rare opportunity to make eye contact and have a personal moment with chefs who usually have fans swarming them. This year, outside at Doges Palace at the Venetian and under the threat of a possible downpour, chef Daniel Boulud (db Brasserie) had the honor of using a saber to ceremoniously open several magnums of Mionetto prosecco, surrounded by a veritable who’s who of the dining world, including Emeril Lagasse, François Payard, Brian Malarkey, Guy Savoy, Mary Sue Milliken and Frank Pellegrino Jr. The saber, unfortunately, was not used to cut into the six-layer 10th anniversary cake made by Cake Boss Buddy Valastro. –Grace Bascos

Chef Hubert Keller at Eye Openers and Eats (Isaac Brekken, Getty for Vegas Uncork'd by Bon Appetit)

Chef Hubert Keller at Eye Openers and Eats (Isaac Brekken, Getty for Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit)

Old Homestead’s High Steaks Pairings With Vodka and Caviar

Four courses of vodka and caviar? Sign me up! Brothers Marc and Greg Sherry of the iconic Old Homestead Steak House hosted about 50 guests for their Master Series dinner, partnering with Stoli Elit vodka. Starting a meal with a seafood tower is always a good sign, especially when it’s stacked with enormous U-8 shrimp, Alaskan king crab salad, raw Kushi and Malpeque oysters and Wild American hackleback caviar over a bed of beef tenderloin tartare. The small coveted fish eggs added pops of flavor to dishes such as citrus-steamed sturgeon (which also happened to feature the hand-made, orange bell pepper caviar), while the filet was dotted with Russian osetra 000, one of the highest grades of the roe you can get. And if that weren’t indulgent enough, all guests got sent home with a bottle of Stoli Elit. If last year Old Homestead paired its Pat LaFrieda meats with bourbon and this year was vodka, what spirit can we look forward to next year? –Grace Bascos

Chefs Daniel Boulud and Guy Savoy at Fete du Jardin (Isaac Brekken, Getty for Vegas Uncork'd by Bon Appetit)

Chefs Daniel Boulud and Guy Savoy at Fete du Jardin (Isaac Brekken, Getty for Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit)

Master Series: Emeril Lagasse and Daniel Boulud’s All-Star Dinner on the Strip With Olivier Dubreuil, Kim Canteenwalla and David Werly

The weather caused a last-minute change of venue for one Vegas Uncork’d Master Series dinner on Thursday. But hundreds of hungry diners, including supermodel Tyra Banks, still managed to find it and enjoy the meal. Guests, who also included chef Rick Moonen, began with chilled Alaskan king crab salad from Lagasse. That was followed by a selection Boulud’s house-made charcuterie. For the next course, Dubrueil charred up some massive langoustines on outdoor grills, and they were accompanied by another Lagasse creation: halibut with spring asparagus and morel nage. For the main course, Canteenwalla paired porchetta with wild fennel and truffle farce with a side of polenta and whole fried duck eggs, while Dubrueil provided cumin chicken tagines. Werly handled dessert duties with vanilla and strawberry vacherine glace. –Al Mancini

Chef Nobu Matsuhisa at Sushi Making and Sake Tasting (Isaac Brekken, Getty for Vegas Uncork'd by Bon Appetit)

Chef Nobu Matsuhisa at Sushi Making and Sake Tasting (Isaac Brekken, Getty for Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit)

Grand Tasting

Vegas Uncork’d’s Grand Tasting at Caesars on Friday night presented an abundance of delicious bites from 50-plus renowned chefs and sips from wine and spirits that hit my happy meter several times. One dish that stood out in particular was Sushi Roku’s big eye tuna poke, served over perfectly steamed rice and with golden tobiko (flying fish roe), sesame and chili oils and tamari soy. Another was chef Guy Savoy’s elegant black truffle and artichoke soup served with a buttery brioche for double dipping. The highlight meet-and-greet was with the new corporate mixologist for Wolfgang Puck, Trey Picou. He featured the Mezzy Daisy, a smoky and bright late night sipper, made with El Silencio Mezcal, agave nectar, lime juice, fresh grenadine, grapefruit bitters and garnished with yellow chartreuse foam, lime zest and edible flowers. The best pairing managed to come together from two opposite sides of the event. Jermann’s pinot grigio—persistent as opposed to watered down—from one of Northern Italy’s finest producers, with its exotic juiciness and pure, flinty minerality went perfectly with Wolfgang Puck’s meaty seared sea bass. –Marisa Finetti

Gordon Ramsay with Hell's Kitchen finalists Ariel Malone (L) and Kristin Barone (R) at Vegas Uncork'd (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for Vegas Uncork'd by Bon Appetit)

Gordon Ramsay with Hell’s Kitchen finalists Ariel Malone (L) and Kristin Barone (R) at Vegas Uncork’d (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit)

Chefs of the Gods

Caesars Palace is celebrating the Big 5-0 this year, and Uncork’d marked the birthday with once-in-a-lifetime lunch on Saturday appropriately called Chefs of the Gods. The property’s culinary rock stars—Gordon Ramsay, Guy Savoy and François Payard—took the stage in a ballroom of 1,000 people. Ramsay, whose fans are legion, mobbed the stage, trying to get a selfie with the notorious chef in the background. Meanwhile, he demo’d mushroom risotto, beef Wellington and pear tart tatin, making the whole process look effortless. And he was quite the comedian, too, proving once and for all that he only plays mean on TV. (But there was a little of that pottymouth, to the delight of the guests.) Meanwhile, Guy Savoy showed the audience how to make his famous black truffle and artichoke soup, with some translation help from executive chef Julien Asseo. And François Payard left each guest a box of chocolates, a perfect take-home treat to commemorate the memorable meal. –Genevie Durano

Rao’s Brunch

One of the few events that has been around for all 10 years, the Rao’s brunch has always been about family. Instead of meatballs and sausage (which has always been a hit in previous years… plus their meatballs at the Grand Tasting are always a hit), guests saw a more seasonally inspired menu, including Rao’s beet salad, lobster fra diavolo, prime rib and grilled pound cake. The 110-plus-year-old restaurant still knows how to keep things fresh. –Grace Bascos

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