LAS VEGAS The Ultimo of Dining

About Las Vegas, Nevada

LAS VEGAS The Ultimo of Dining

Most people go to Las Vegas for the gambling but I go for the dining. World name chefs all seem to have a restaurant or two here: Alain Ducasse, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Joel Robuchon, Mario Batali, Michael Mina, Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse…the list goes on. When it comes to culinary extravaganza’s like the upcoming Ultimo in December, where else but Vegas to take it over the top.

Deemed the culinary event of the year, “Ultimo – A Weekend of Excellence”, hosted by The Venetian and The Palazzo Las Vegas December 17-20 promises to take extravagance to new levels. “This will be without a doubt the most spectacular gathering of world renowned chefs in Las Vegas,” said Sebastien Silvestri, vice president of food & beverage for the hotels.

Culinary luminaries participating include Daniel Boulud, Josiah Citrin, Thomas Keller, Ming Tsai and many more. Ultimo kicks off with the Bocuse d’Or Team USA competition for young talented chefs. About 400 members of the culinary elite will be hosted for the competition to determine who represents the United States at the 2017 Bocuse d’Or biennial in Lyon, France.

Guests can watch the all-day competition and then enjoy an “Evening of Truffles, Wild Game and Tradition”. The theme for this year is Earth, Water, Air and Fire and each of these elements will be celebrated during a once-in-a-lifetime meal.

For “Air”, partakers will dine ‘in the clouds’ at one single table made of glass spanning the Grand Colonnade with clear acrylic glass chairs and custom effects to create clouds. The meal will be prepared by Chefs Thomas Keller (Bouchon in Yountville, Beverly Hills and Las Vegas), Philip Tessier (first ever American Bocuse d’Or silver medallist), Shaun Hergatt (Juni in New York) and Ming Tsai (Blue Ginger and Blue Dragon in Massachusetts).

For “Water” diners will float on the Grand Canal at the Venetian on a submerged clear acrylic platform as gondoliers serve them Prosecco from boats. And so it goes. For more information about the event, tickets and prices visit www.venetian.com/ultimo

While floating about town, visitors who love food might want to check out a few other hot spots. Mandalay Bay Resort’s Aureole, has Chef Charlie Palmer's signature progressive American cuisine and a spectacular four-storey glass wine tower with Wine Angel Stewards – young ladies in tight clothing who fly up and down on wires to retrieve the wines. Canadian Harley Carbery, Director of Wine tells me they have 4,500 different labels to offer people.

Mandalay’s sister property, Delano Las Vegas recently unveiled a curated craft cocktail program at Franklin, their lobby lounge. Barrel aged cocktails on draught (aged in small custom oak barrels on premises) and signature cocktails using limited edition spirits such as Delano Daiquiri (Bacardi 1909 Heritage rum) give sizzle to the drink list.

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, a popular Miami eatery known for its extensive bourbon list and hearty rustic cuisine just expanded to the Venetian – American comfort food is trending hot in Vegas both on the off the Strip. Think southern fried chicken (brined 27 hours), bone-in short rib and swine burgers plus 115 bourbons, whiskies and ryes.

Of course steak houses are always big in Vegas. My favourite is Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s Carnevino in The Palazzo. Head Chef Nicole Brisson, who has been with Batali for nine years, takes her meat seriously. Steaks are dry aged a minimum of 90 to 120 days, while the “reserva” steaks age for an average of six to nine months up to an incredible 14 months. Cattle are raised to the restaurant’s specification in Oklahoma – free range with no hormones used.

“No one does what we do with steak,” said Chef Brisson who mentioned they have a 5,000 square foot dry ageing facility about 20 minutes away from the restaurant. It’s needed. Carnevino goes through about 5,000 pounds of steak a week.

Cut by Wolfgang Puck grills their steaks over hard wood and charcoal and then finishes them under a 1200 degree broiler. Depending where they come from (Illinois, Nebraska or Washington) they are aged 21 to 35 days. They also have American wagyu from Snake River in Idaho and the ultra-fatty-rich (and expensive) true Japanese 100% wagyu from Miyazaki Prefecture, Kyushu. Their cocktail program is huge with all in-house infusions, barrel aged negroni’s and a big whisky selection.

Maybe I should revise my reasons for coming to Vegas. It’s for the eating AND the drinking.

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