Vegas Uncork’d, Round 11

A preview of the year’s biggest culinary event

Adam Rapoport, Gordon Ramsay and Andrew Knowlton

With more than a decade of experiential culinary experiences led by some of the world’s most notable toques, Vegas Uncork’d is certainly one of the best food fests in the country. Hell, with Bon Appétit magazine behind it, what more can you expect? Simply put, a lot.

When the bacchanal begins on April 27, there will be amazing masters dinner hosted by everyone from Guy Savoy at his eponymously named institution to Timon Balloo at Sugarcane. And while the Grand Tasting is always wildly popular, this year’s can’t-miss events include Picnic at the Park and epic soirees at The Venetian.

You can check out details at vegasuncorked.com, but rather than ramble through a mundane interview, we decided to let Bon Appétit’s editor in chief Adam Rapoport and restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton interview each other to give us a taste of what to expect.

Rapoport: All right, Andrew, Vegas entails a lot of eating, drinking and late nights. How do you stay refreshed and focused while at Vegas Uncork’d?

Knowlton: Well, how I usually do it—like where I am right now on the road, eating around the country with an extreme exercise routine. But in Vegas, it can be a little more difficult because you can’t just go outside and run on the Strip. Which I’ve actually tried and it’s not very much fun. Because people literally look at you, like what the hell are you doing? I don’t know, I think I just am kind of pickled the whole way through. Whiskey and sodas and Champagne and, well, I mean you start early and you just keep on going. I don’t think you can fight the stream that is Vegas. You just have to go with all the other fish.

Rapoport: I swim upstream, actually. I do go to the gym at wherever property I’m staying.

Knowlton: You have to pay to go the gym in Las Vegas.

Rapoport: No, that’s not true.

David Becker/Getty Images

A host of celebrity chefs attend Vegas Uncork’d

Knowlton: Yes, it is.

Rapoport: That’s not true. Not true. I always go to the gym every day; I try to take a swim, weather permitting, to refresh myself. And a disco nap, say around 5 p.m. Take that 20-minute lie-down before the evening’s dinner festivities. It’s a really nice way to recharge. It’s like plugging in your iPhone before you go out.

Knowlton: But that’s prime bar time. All right. I have a question for you. So this is my 11th year going to Vegas Uncork’d. This is your fifth?

Rapoport: I want to say at least my sixth. Yeah, sixth.

Knowlton: How has Vegas changed since you’ve been attending Uncork’d?

Rapoport: I think what’s so fascinating about Vegas is that it’s under constant development and change. And that the properties recognize that they always need to be building something new or introducing something new. I love CityCenter. I think it’s awesome staying at the Mandarin Oriental and going to Aria. Crystals is such a cool thing, and I love sitting in the treehouse at Mastro’s. You’re going to have a new football stadium going up, constantly bringing in new chefs. Momofuku opening at Cosmo. I love Giada’s restaurant at The Cromwell, sitting out there and having brunch with the windows open. I always feel like there’s something new to check out. I like that sort of constant refreshment.

Knowlton: OK, I buy it.

Rapoport: In the last year, if you can remember, what was your favorite event at Vegas Uncork’d?

Knowlton: Do you have a calendar from last year? Well, I mean I always like the Grand Tasting, just to see all the swarms of people fighting for Gordon Ramsay’s attention.

Rapoport: Knowlton gets a little less snarky. You’re on the record right now.

Knowlton: I am. I don’t remember last year compared to six years ago. It’s a blur. What’s cool is Vegas itself has become a little bit more casual and has started to get more of the fast-casual stuff involved, [such as the] lunch you’rehosting, where you’re going to be cooking paella outside.

Rapoport: The events have gotten more content-minded, and they’re more interactive with the chefs and the food really takes focus. That’s what’s great about Vegas Uncork’d—it’s not just a sit-down meal; it’s a real interactive experience.

Knowlton: What event are you looking forward to hosting this year? Besides the José Andrés [event], because I know he’s your boy.

Rapoport: He is my guy, a fellow D.C. chef guy. I’m really looking forward to trying to sneak out and play golf Saturday afternoon! I am hosting lunch like a Spaniard on Friday with José and then the Grand Tasting at 6. On Saturday I’m hosting the brunch with Bobby Flay. Bobby is a world-class smack-talker, and he’s always fun to get out there in front of the guests and hit him with some hard questions. We’ve talked about this before, but we deal with these chefs a lot, and it’s wonderful how excited and how genuinely happy the guests are when a Bobby Flay comes out. Or when a Nobu or José Andrés comes out and getting their photos taken with the chefs, ask them questions, sign their books. It’s kinda crazy when Bobby Flay walks in the room—it’s like Paul McCartney just walked in.

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