Dish & Tell

City’s annual Bon Appétit culinary indulgence serves up one tasty extravaganza

It’s a recipe for success. Put together a power lineup of the world’s best celebrity chefs, add a mix of Master Sommeliers and top wines, and you have the perfect ingredients for one of the country’s top food, wine and spirits festivals — the 11th annual Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit.

Giada De Laurentiis and “Too Hot Tamales,” Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, will lead the iconic chefs contingent comprising Alain Ducasse, Bobby Flay, Buddy Valastro, Charlie Palmer,  Gordon Ramsay, Guy Savoy, José Andrés, Julian Serrano, Shawn McClain, Michael Mina, Michael Chow, Nobu Matsuhisa, Wolfgang Puck and many others.

The four-day culinary extravaganza fires up on April 27–30, and this year promises to be the best yet vows Bon Appétit’s editor in chief Adam Rapoport.

“This is the only weekend of the year when this many renowned chefs come together in one destination to host intimate dinners and allow guests from around the world to indulge in an epicurean experience of a lifetime,” he said. “With tons of new programming this year, the 11th annual Vegas Uncork’d is definitely going to be the most dynamic one yet.”

The event truly puts Las Vegas on the world’s culinary map, as no other city on earth can match the number of culinary kings and queens cooking up their signature-taste treats. Foodies who travel here from all around the world have the unique opportunity of being “up close and personal” with the food stars in a way that can’t be duplicated anywhere else, making it a real dish and tell celebration.

“When people are looking for a one-of-a-kind travel experience, Las Vegas always delivers, and Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit is a spectacular event that has secured our destination’s position as a leading culinary hot spot for over a decade,” said Cathy Tull, senior vice president of marketing for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

“This year, we are excited to welcome additional resorts, restaurants and unique experiences that will provide our guests with unparalleled access to the world’s most sought-after chefs and sommeliers in truly intimate settings,” she added.

One of the events kicking off the first night of Vegas Uncork’d is a dinner at the famed Rao’s restaurant at Caesars Palace celebrating the popular eatery’s 10th anniversary on the Strip — its New York flagship is still the hardest reservation to secure in the world. The final day of the epicurean extravaganza will end at Rao’s, too, with a farewell traditional Italian brunch and nonstop entertainment. And, at both events, guests will have the unique opportunity to get an autographed copy of the Frank Pellegrini family’s newest cookbook, Rao’s Classics, containing its time-honored Italian staples and unique classic dishes.

Although the Vegas Uncork’d schedule is jam-packed with Master Series dinners, chef tastings, brunches and a newcomer that is certain to become a future favorite, the highlight of the weekend is the Grand Tasting on Friday evening. In excess of 2,500 food enthusiasts will enjoy a staggering variety of chef signature dishes in the beautiful 5-acre Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis at Caesars Palace. More than 50 award-winning chefs, as well as 100-plus of the best wines and spirits from around the world will make it an unforgettable night.

Then, on Saturday, you won’t want to miss the one-on-one verbal combat with “Hell’s Kitchen” firebrand Gordon Ramsay when he brings in his FOX-TV series’ all-star winners whom — much like a ferocious orchestra conductor — he will rule over with a flaming torch instead of a baton while serving the memorable dinner. And, don’t be surprised if he launches into a fiery tirade with any chef on his line who doesn’t measure up to his star status. It’ll be epicurean theater at its finest, and William Shakespeare himself would be proud of the culinary commotion.

Be sure to indulge in a decadent evening with TLC’s “Cake Boss” superstar, Buddy Valastro, too, as you surrender to the sugary side of life with beignets and bon bons around The Palazzo pool. Nobody does dessert better, so make the “Sweet Escape” and take the opportunity to meet the newest female chef star on the Strip, Lorena Garcia, who is opening Chica at The Venetian in May. Garcia, a TV star from Venezuela, is the first female chef in the all-male celebrity chef lineup at The Venetian | The Palazzo, and she’s also the first Latina chef heading up a major restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip. She’s making her debut at this year’s Vegas Uncork’d.

Also on Saturday, Japanese chef master Nobu Matsuhisa will showcase his skills on the traditional teppan grills in his Nobu restaurant at Caesars Palace, which, incidentally, is the first U.S. location to feature these types of grills. He will precede his two teppan grill demonstrations with two early afternoon classes of “The Beauty of Sushi,” where he will talk about the philosophy of sushi-making and provide hands-on action as he creates sashimi and sushi delicacies right before your eyes.

The Park, a new 8-acre outdoor experience located outside of the T-Mobile Arena opposite of the Monte Carlo hotel-casino, will be turned into a giant picnic playground throughout Saturday afternoon and into early evening with Alain Ducasse, Charlie Palmer, Michael Mina, Julian Serrano, Shawn McClain, Roy Ellamar, Akira Back, the Voltaggio Brothers and more.

In addition to food and spirits, the picnic will feature live music and an opportunity to play life-size classic board games. Plus you can embrace your inner child with coloring books and social games, such as foosball, shuffleboard, pingpong and cornhole.

Chefs Feniger and Milliken prove women can still rule the kitchen, and not only with their one-of-a-kind Master Series tapas dinner on Saturday evening. The Too Hot Tamales also will run a Quickfire Challenge, giving guests the opportunity to see what it’s like to be contestants on a cooking challenge program. Participants will divide into teams and compete in a series of quickfire challenges just as if they are alongside the two femmes fatales from Bravo’s “Top Chef.” Both Feniger and Milliken will coach the teams and provide the participants with top-notch advice before they face the judges panel.

Get ready to go on a tough diet before the end of April so you can stuff yourself silly for the 11th spectacular year of Vegas Uncork’d, which will be popping open with what only can be described as “America’s very best dining experience.” Bon appétit, indeed!