The Best FAM Tour…..ever!

Those in the tourist and retail business, which means half of Las Vegas, know what a FAM tour is. The acronym is for familiarization tour, a tour given to journalists, tour guides, and anyone else a business or organization thinks might spread the word about them after getting a little RF&B (room, food and beverage), and a quick (or not so quick) tour of the premises being promoted. They were unheard of in the restaurants of Las Vegas as little as five years ago, but with the explosion of properties (and competition), every writer, blogger, columnist and wannabe, from Toledo to Tokyo, gets (or angles to get) a free ride to Vegas, if a hotel thinks they might write something positive about the property.

Just as with casino comps, what started straightforward and simple: i.e. you gamble a certain amount, we’ll give you something back, has mushroomed into a bureaucratized sub-culture, with its own set of rules and strict protocols. Vegas being Vegas, half the free lance writers in the world now seek to get a free ride here, in exchange for an article or shout out somewhere. It must drive the p.r. folks in the hotels crazy trying to figure out who’s legitimate and who’s not….but such wasn’t a concern of the Wynn Hotel and Casino during Bon Appetit’s Uncork’d event that concluded on Sunday.

That’s because they picked the creme de la creme of food journalists-all of whom were in town for the aforementioned foodie festival, for THE BEST FAM TOUR EVER!-guided by Wynn Prez Andrew Pascal-of the inner workings of the food and beverage departments at Wynn. Everyone from Bon Appetit Editor-in-Chief Barbara Fairchild, to the James Beard Foundation’s Mitchell Davis, to Dorie Greenspan and EaterLA’s Lesley Balla, gathered Saturday morning at the Wynn for an underground tour of everthing from the chocolate shop (headed by uber-pastry chef Fredrick Robert) to Paul Bartolotta’s fish tanks. Alan Richman was the only notable no-show, preferring (no doubt) to nurse his food coma in the comfort of his palatial suite at Caesars to a tasting of Boris Villatte’s incredible breads and baked goods.

For this we can forgive GQ’s restaurant critic, although his disturbing lapse in taste in voting (at the Masters v. Rookies cooking competition) for Rick (Fishboy) Moonen’s lobster salad (a f*cking salad for chrissakes!) over the finely tuned surf and turf created by Circo‘s Vincenzo Scarmiglia (with the able assistance of Michael Mina‘s Anthony Amoroso and yours truly), has been much harder to swallow.