When it comes to fine dining, I’ll bet that Las Vegas wins hands down over any other city in the country based on the number of fantastic restaurants within close proximity of one another. Any takers?
Since gluttony is a sin, I admit I’ve sinned plenty in the city known as Sin City. In Vegas I’ve gorged at the restaurants of some of the most notable celebrity chefs around the country (and even world in some cases), including Michael Mina, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Masa Takayama, Joël Robouchon, José Andrés, Paul Bartolotta, Guy Savoy, Shawn McClain, Julian Serrano and Pierre Gagnaire. Consider that their eateries are within walking distance of one another and you can see why I’m calling Las Vegas the dining capital of America, based on radius.
From a foodie’s perspective, the best time to be in Vegas is this weekend for Food & Wine All-Star Weekend, taking place Oct-21-23 at Aria Resort & Casino and Bellagio Resort & Casino. Food & Wine’s Gail Simmons hosts the epicurean adventure that features some of the aforementioned chefs (Mina, Serrano, Takayama, Vongerichten and Maccioni), 2011 Food & Wine Best New Chef and Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard and a smorgasbord of others from the culinary and mixology world.
Here’s the mouth-watering lineup:
Friday, October 21
8 p.m. – 11 p.m.
First Course: Kick-off party hosted by Gail Simmons at ARIA View Bar featuring a star-studded lineup of celebrity chefs and alumni from Top Chef. Guests will enjoy cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres.
11 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Second Course: The Deuce Lounge at ARIA will be the setting for a fun after-party as each chef hosts blackjack at a gaming table.
Sit in on a game, sip delicious cocktails and enjoy a simply delectable dessert bar from Top Chef Just Desserts winner Yigit Pura.
Saturday, October 22
Noon – 2 p.m.
A New American Lunch: FOOD & WINE Contributor and Wine Expert Anthony Giglio and Top Chef cheftestant Stephanie Izard co-host this exciting sit-down luncheon at ARIA’s Sage. Delicious cuisine by Sage Executive Chef Shawn McClain and exquisite cocktail and beer pairings made exclusively by Giglio will impress guests during the afternoon, providing a fun, culinary experience at the award-winning restaurant.
Luxe Lunch: Hosted in Bellagio’s Tuscany Kitchen, this extraordinary lunch is part cooking demonstration, part three-course luncheon and part wine tasting. This exciting event will be hosted by Gail Simmons with Top Chef’s Season 5 winner Hosea Rosenberg providing a cooking demo and Bellagio Master Sommelier and Director of Wine Jason Smith pairing each course with complementary wine.
8 p.m. – 11 p.m.
All-Star Tasting: The main event takes place poolside at ARIA and will feature host Gail Simmons, Bravo’s Top Chef cheftestants Yigit Pura, Stephanie Izard, Hosea Rosenberg, Angelo Sossa and Sam Talbot in addition to the signature restaurants of ARIA: Jean Georges Steakhouse, Sirio Ristorante, Julian Serrano, BARMASA and Sage. Each participating chef will create a sample-sized portion of a signature dish for guests to taste. Cocktails, wine and beer also will be served. Many of ARIA’s award-winning chefs and restaurateurs will be in attendance including Masa Takayama, Shawn McClain, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Michael Mina and Sirio Maccioni.
Sunday, October 23
11 a.m. Champagne & Caviar Brunch: Hosted by FOOD & WINE Contributing Editor and Wine Expert Anthony Giglio, Jasmine at Bellagio will make guests’ champagne wishes and caviar dreams come true at this buffet brunch set against the backdrop of the breathtaking Bellagio Fountains. Featuring a specialty Bloody Mary Bar created by Bellagio Master Mixologist Matt Myers and brunch favorites from Top Chef Season 5 winner Hosea Rosenberg.