FOOD FESTIVAL FRENZY
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was a time of celebration and a time of despair. A time when great culinary events abounded, and a time when dining out finally got reasonable and locals friendly on the Las Vegas Strip.
The sad thing is all of these are occurring in the face of impending doom. But doom or bust, there’s no doubt that this is our golden age of food festivals.
It all began last month with the kick off of DISH-the gourmet charity event to benefit ThreeSquare. Then two weeks ago we had the Epicurean Affair; tomorrow begins Bon Appetit’s Vegas Uncork’d, and finally, in a fortnight, the Wine Spectator comes to town for winos of all stripes.
The DISH event at the Springs Preserve was sabotaged by Mother Nature. What the French call a mistral (one of those frigid, early Spring windstorms) blew away the attendees as much as the Wynn/Encore chefs and guys like Geno Bernarndo of NOVE were blowing everyone away with their food. But close to a thousand tickets were sold – and at least half that many troopers braved the elements – in support of this worthy cause and to chow down on first class grub – at least the grub they could hold down on their plates….
The Epicurean Affair wrapped its way around the Flamingo Hotel pool area, got more cooperation in the weather department, and was hugely attended by local foodies. It was probably about the time I was wolfing down all the Italian goodies at the Valentino/Giorgio table (after having to elbow my way in) that I began to think that maybe, just maybe, Vegas is going to survive this economic thing after all.
This week begins the third year of Vegas Uncork’d, an event that aims even higher in trying to position itself as a world-renowned food and wine event for the serious restaurant lover. What Uncork’d is selling worldwide is access – access to the greatest chefs in the world and the restaurants that keep them famous. No other city offers such a concentration of great eats, décor and wine service within a two square mile area, and beginning tomorrow, everyone from Cat Cora to Bobby Flay to Alain Ducasse will be in town, ready to meet, greet and eat with all of their fans.
Yours truly will be front and center at many of these events….hobnobbing his heart out, trying to keep a silly grin off his face, and fighting his never-ending battle against the onslaught of a forty inch waist.
And while he’s doing so, he’ll be wondering why, with everyone else crying in their beer, these food events continue to pack ’em in. Maybe it’s because, as our friend and recent double-James Beard Award-winner Alan Richman says: “Food is life itself. The rest is parsley.”