By Judy Thorburn
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Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - Las Vegas Round The Clock
Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - The Flick Chicks
Director of Communications - Nevada Film Alliance

Caesar's Palace hosts Vegas Uncork'd signature event The Grand Tasting

Vegas Uncork'd signature event, the Grand Tasting, was held from 7:30 pm to 11 p.m. on Friday May 7 at Caesars Palace's all new 5 acre Garden of the Gods swimming pools and gardens. What a fabulous night for food lovers! The impressive event drew more than 2,300 attendees and featured an amazing

gathering 70 chefs, more than 50 of the city's most celebrated restaurants, and over 100 wines and spirits from around the world. This year’s attendance was a dramatic increase over last year’s attendance of 1,600, more than double of the inaugural Grand Tasting four years ago.

The Grand Tasting has to be the ultimate culinary experience. No wonder attendance included food connoisseurs from across the U.S and all over the world.

For those who had the pleasure of attending, it was an extraordinary opportunity to mingle with the world’s top culinary talents, while sampling an incredible variety of signature dishes prepared by a lineup of the city’s award-winning chefs and culinary greats including Guy Savoy, Alain Ducasse, Bobby Flay, Hubert Keller, Bradley Ogden, Charlie Palmer, François Payard, Osamu “Fuji” Fujita, Yu Li, Laurent Tourondel and Masa Ishizawa, Rick Moonen, Rene Lenger, Jet Tila, Steve Martorano, Saipin Chutima, Joe Elevado, Kim Canteenwalla and Paul Bartolotta among others.

Whether a meat lover or vegetarian there was more than enough culinary delights to please everyone's dietary choices and tastes.

My personal favorites were:

.Seared Tuna roll: shrimp and mango rolled in seaweed topped with seared tuna and king crab, edamame dumpling with a shabu broth
.Yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno
.Alaskan black cod
.Miso in butter lettuce cup

Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Julian Serrano
.Tuna raspberry skewer (ahi tuna rolled in black and white sesame seeds topped with raspberry cloud and dripped with “Pedro Ximenez” reduction and wasabi

Julian Serrano
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Some of the other mouth-watering cuisine guests enjoyed at the Grand Tasting included:

Bradley Ogden:
• Lamb sausage with garlic cracker, tomato vinaigrette
• Butterscotch pudding

Restaurant Guy Savoy:
• Artichoke and black truffle soup, with mushroom brioche and truffle butter
• Vegetable “canon” stuffed with herbs and carrot emulsion

Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro:
• Oven roasted strawberry with candy fennel and homemade Greek yogurt
• Vanilla panna cotta with caramel poached pear
• Payard decomposition warm cream brulée and chocolate mousse

• Orecchiette con rapini e sausicce, pan-seared Italian sausage and broccoli rabe sauce served with orecchiette noodles
• Rao’s traditional, authentic Neapolitan beef, veal and pork meatballs slowly cooked in tomato sauce

Mesa Grill:
• Sea scallop and red pepper salad with charred corn and avocado relish

• Crispy braised pork belly, fricassee of spring beans, mustard seed braising liquor
• Albacore tuna tartar, Japanese kombu, white soy and puffed rice
• Valrhona chocolate mousse, hazelnut tuile

Beijing Noodle No. 9:
• “Bird's Nest” shrimp ball
• Sichuan spicy cold noodles with sliced cucumber

Sea Harbour:
• Fried wonton stuffed with shrimp and pork
• Preserve pork knuckle cold cut

Café Martorano - Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino:
•Lightly breaded pan-fried eggplant served with homemade mozzarella, vine-ripe tomatoes, aged balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil topped with arugula salad and slices of imported parmigiano-reggiano
• Homemade meatballs with ground pork, choice veal and ground beef, served in a fresh San Marzano tomato sauce

Strip House – Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino:
• Goose fat potato chips with warm gorgonzola fondue

Along with some of the best wines, tempting libations included ginger margaritas from Jean-Georges Steakhouse; Cat’s Ketel one blueberry cocktail, Patron, and non alcoholic Fiji Water. In addition, it was hard to say no to at least a bite from an assortment of sinfully delicious desserts from Payard, Jean-Philippe Patisserie, The Cupcakery and Vosques.

Francois Payard
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


Jean-Philippe Patisserie
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Spotted among the sea of attendees were actress Laura Prepon (That 70's Show), Palm's owner George Maloof with celebrity chef Kerry Simon, comedienne Rita Rudner, actor Chazz Palminteri, magician Nathan Burton, 2009 Miss USA Kristen Dalton and Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir. The red carpet list included Bon Appetit Editor Barbara Fairchild, Rick Faugno, Matt Goss, Bon Appetit’s Andrew Knowlton, female impersonator Frank Marino, Luciano Pellegrini, Joel Robuchon, Guy Savoy, Julian Serrano and the hunky men from Chippendales.

Palms owner George Maloof with Chef Kerry Simon
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Laura Prepon
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

The evening's festivities also included Celebrity Chef, Hubert Keller spinning the tunes as DJ Hubert, at the Fiji Water DJ Booth and book signings by several of the celebrity chefs.

Tickets to the Grand Tasting were $175 in advance or $195 at the door.

Tom Moloney, Barbara Fairchild, Luciano Pellegrini
Photo credit: IS Photography/

Joe Bastianich
Photo credit: IS Photography/

Rene Langer
Photo credit: IS Photography/

Sam DeMarco
Photo credit: IS Photography/