At RAO’S With A Celebrity Chef To Be Named Later

ELV and his staff were at Rao’s last week, not eating, but rather to observe the shooting of an episode of a television show featuring a certain celebrity chef and Rao’s Carla Pellegrino.

But seeing as we signed a confidentiality statement that “protects” the image of said chef, and demands secrecy befitting a CIA operative about the goings on and such…we can’t really…like…er….say much about what we saw, or what it was about.

None of this makes much sense to Eating Las Vegas, since in this era of social media and viral marketing, one would think that this chef, and his super-secretive staff (and network), would want people twittering and Facebooking about the goings on, to…you know…like…build anticipation and an audience for the event once it’s telecast? (Truth be told, the release/confidentiality statement we signed was nothing compared to Bravo Network’s draconian, multi-page document — that practically causes you to forfeit your parental rights if you so much as breath a word about the show in advance of its showing.)

Since we don’t watch many of these shows, we can’t say just how important all the fake suspense is to driving an audience to watch them. But come on! It’s a freaking food show already! Taped months in advance. Are people really not going to watch because they heard that John Besh out-cooked Traci Des Jardins on the season’s finale of Chefs Who Are Better Than The Food Network Stars?

We can say this, however: the unnamed celebrity chef, who’s show we can’t tell you about, ran away from us with a scowl on his face and a dismissive gesture when we had the temerity to ask if we could take his picture with Judge Paul Bartolotta.

That was probably because he knows we’ve described his cash cow as bland and boring (something Frank Bruni in the New York Times said as well).

ELV wonders if this guy runs away from Bruni if he chances upon him in public? Hmmm…

Or maybe he ducked us ‘cuz he can’t stand the heat.

In which case he should get out of the kitchen.

But having tasted his restaurant’s food on multiple occasions, we wonder if he’s ever in a kitchen anymore?

Unless there’s a TV camera around.

10 thoughts on “At RAO’S With A Celebrity Chef To Be Named Later

  1. A chef who spends more time “grilling it” and throwing “throwdowns” on the teevee instead of… Well, being that “boy who meets grill” ?

  2. Don’t worry ELV fans, we’ll get our sweet revenge. One can hardly wait for the next appearance of ELV on the judges bench at “Iron Chef America.” (an appearance that I sense is already on the books)

    Bobby Flay will have to sweat it out, under the lights of Kitchen Stadium, waiting to hear Supreme Court Justice ELV proclaim Mr. Flay’s Southwest Sous Vide Salmon a disgusting glop of putrid fish ensconsed in a limpid blue corn tortilla.

    Standing on the other side of the courtroom, the confident and talented Chef Paul Bartolotta, holding forth a steaming cauldron of fresh, Medittereanean seafood in a delightfully simple broth accented with saffron and espelette pepper flakes. A dish of beauty not lost on the learned panel of judges–and a smackdown of the man who has coined the phrase “showdown.” And, in the end, a triumph for all of us who rue the mere thought of the images conjured up by the moniker “celebrity Chef.”

  3. I’m glad I’m not the only one he’s snubbed. At this year’s Uncork’d, all of the French chefs (Keller, Savoy, et al) were incredibly warm & gracious. BF was downright arrogant. Even Tom Collichio was friendlier than him! I know it’s petty, but it made me not want to ever go back to his restaurants. Maybe he needs to learn that a little graciousness can go quite a long way.

  4. Kristi-

    Et tu? Methinks Mr. Flay’s ego has grown too big for his talent (and ability to attract good talent at Mesa Grill LV) to back it up.


    I was thinking more along the lines of “Top Chef Masters”, where Mr. ELV and Kristi are judges alongside Gael Greene and Toby Young. It would especially be fun to see Toby Young spit out the fish and declare it a “weapon of mass destruction”… And if he were competing against Hubert Keller, Mr. ELV can finally find the poetic justice he’s been looking for. ;-)

    Or perhaps “Hell’s Kitchen” would be more in line for Mr. “Grill It”? He thinks he has so much ‘tude, but it would be hilarious to see him run away screaming once Gordon Ramsay started shouting at him and cussing like a drunk sailor.

  5. Kristi-you are not alone in your perception of Flay at Uncork’d. Now mind you, I didn’t make much of an attempt to speak to Flay at the Grand Tasting event as there were other Chefs much more talented than Flay that I chose to visit with. er, Laurent Tourendol, Guy Savoy, Tom Collichio, et al.

    As I passed Flay’s booth it was apparent that he didn’t have the time, nor did he appear to project the warmth or interest in meeting his minions. In all due respect, the guy is incredibly popular with the mass demographic that forms the Food Network audience and that was evidenced by the throngs crowding his booth. But rather than fight the crowd and the personal assistants guarding his side, I chose to pass by. (I doubt Flay would have warmed-up to being introduced to a guy who writes serious words about food and dining).

    Now, on the other side of the coin we have the gracious and quite talented Chef Hubert Keller. We know and recognize Chef Keller’s work in the media and “celebrity” world–yet he backs it up with his foundation and talents in the kitchen–and he’s gracious and professional. I’ve met Chef Keller on previous visits to Las Vegas, but I wouldn’t say we meet on a regular basis.

    As I walked up to shake Chef Keller’s hand, he said “nice to see your Mr. Ross.” Now isn’t that amazing? A talented Chef who isn’t defined by his “celebrity.” Chef Keller’s probably met thousands at these types of events, yet he’s got the manners to remember casual aquaintences by name.

  6. I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with Chef Flay on a number of occasions (though I certainly wouldn’t consider him a friend) – and I will say that he’s one of the most genuine people I’ve met in the industry. He is who he is, both on and off TV, which is to say he’s always been pleasant but certainly businesslike – and I think that is what most people mistake for being cold or snobbish. Imagine being one of the most recognized Chefs in the US and having everyone you meet, either voluntarily or not, assume they are friends of yours because they watch you on TV. It has to get tiring. I bumped into Bobby at Uncork’d after not seeing him for over a year and he came right up, addressed me by name, and said hello.

    It’s one thing to dislike his food and the restaurants that bear his name and therefore question his talent in the kitchen – though his track record of success speaks for itself. But to simply label him as unfriendly or arrogant, without truly knowing him, really isn’t fair.

  7. I’d love for you to ask Mr. “I’m all about bold flavors” (a phrase he repeats at every opportunity) on the air why his restaurants serve food that is all about insipid and bland?–not that the Food Network would ever allow such a comment about their golden boy to make it to the air.

    Also, how a now wealthy guy who’s been in a service industry since he was 16 years old has managed to stiff every dealer in Vegas that he’s ever played with?

  8. Did anyone else watch tonight’s “Throwdown”? I did, and I was SO GLAD to see Team Rao’s win! They deserved it, and Chef “Grill It” needs to step away from selling cookware at Kohl’s for just a minute to be reminded of what his restaurants are supposed to be doing with that cookware.

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