PRIVATE TASTING WITH ALAIN DUCASSE @ miX
If you want to turn any chef, restaurateur, or foodie in the world green with envy, try telling them you just spent the afternoon tasting new dishes at miX atop Thehotel at THE Mandalay Bay with Alain Ducasse — the only chef in the world with twelve Michelin stars.
It was, to a foodie, what having an audience with the Pope would be to this guy.
Observation: Ducasse might be the bane of all those who despise globetrotting, celebrity chefs, but he’s a gracious and funny guy to be around. Throughout the tasting, he never missed an opportunity to needle ELV about some of the things we’ve said about his Vegas attendance record, but did it with good humor, and didn’t once spit in our food. The pretext for meal was a special tasting of miX’s $40/four course Lion King menu (with wine – a serious deal), but twelve separate courses + four desserts + chouquettes + macarrons were served in all, and the food was so spectacular that even jaded old pros like Alan (The Hitman) Richman, Hugh Garvey (Features Editor for Bon Appetit) and Barbara Fairchild (Editor in Chief of Bon Appetit) — the only other journalists there — were dazzled.
Criticism: Alan Richman kept stealing my food.
ELV Highlight: Getting needled by Alain Ducasse and having Alan Richman steal his food.
GRAND TASTING @ CAESARS PALACE
Observations: It was a huge crowd. Way up from last year. As ELV remarked to everyone from Caesars Palace President Gary Selesner to uber-cocktail dude Steve Olsen: Las Vegas officially has a hit on its hands. How we grow this into the premier food/restaurant event in the country is now the big challenge.
Criticism: Way too much food in little plastic shot glasses. Way too many desserts and soups, and a serious shot in the arm in the wine/beer/libations department is needed. ELV suggests wine bars and a beer garden strategically placed inside the event. The lighting was also terrible once the sun went down, i.e., too many bright kleig lights blinding anyone who turned towards the pool.
ELV Highlight: ELV hardly ate a thing — so busy was he chewing the fat with all of his peeps in the food world. For this his liver and waistline were grateful.
CELEBRITY CHEF BLACKJACK TOURNAMENT @ ENCORE
Observation: Everyone was there — always a major attraction for the chefs. Paul Bartolotta won for the second year in a row because he cheats. We don’t know how, but we just know that he does. ELV’s personal theory is that Daniel Boulud is a shill and co-conspirator in Paul B’s shady little card-counting enterprise.
Criticism: The cards ELV kept drawing. Tourondel’s were even worse — he lost ten hands in a row.
ELV Highlight: Doin’ Patron shots with Andrew (I’m not a movie star I just play one on the Food Network) Knowlton while we were losing.