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NYC's Harbour's Chef Anthony Fusco Joins The RM Seafood Crew

As Steve Perry has so astutely sang with Journey, “The Wheel In The Sky keeps on turning,” and a new era of RM Seafood has been born.  In a triumphant return to Las Vegas, Chef Anthony Fusco has joined the RM Seafood crew.  Anthony first came to town from New York’s Gramercy Tavern when he came to be the Executive Sous Chef of Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace. From there he went on to do stints with Guy Savoy, DJT at the Trump Tower in Vegas, and then went back to New York to take over as Executive Chef of Harbour.  Chef Fusco is also an adamant champion for sustainable seafood, so he should fit in just well with Rick’s House Of Tasty Responsible Eats.  I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what Rick and Anthony come up with together.

Anthony Fusco Joins RM Seafood (photo: glenniacampbell.typepad.com)

Anthony Fusco Joins RM Seafood (photo: glenniacampbell.typepad.com)

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RM Seafood

Mandalay Place Shops at Mandalay Bay
3930 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89119

(702) 632-9300

http://rmseafood.com

Follow Chef Rick Moonen on Twitter at @RickMoonen

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Monday Mise en Place: Chef Adam Sobel Leaves RM Seafood

Chef Adam Sobel Taking A Snapshot of the RM Upstairs Kitchen

Chef Adam Sobel Taking A Snapshot of the RM Upstairs Kitchen

Hot off the heels of Gerald Chin hightailing it down the street to become Chef de Cuisine of the Cosmopolitan hotel comes the shocking news of Adam Sobel also saying goodbye to RM Seafood.  No word as to what Adam will be doing, although Rick Moonen himself alluded to Sobel getting his own joint when he said the following on his Facebook page:

“After two strong years working with Adam Sobel it is time for him to get a restaurant of his own and spread his culinary wings. With 100% of my support and appreciation I wish him all the best in the world and his legacy at RM Seafood will always be remembered!”

Best wishes to both Adam and Rick on this new era for both of them.  It appears RM Seafood has already hired another young gun that will help keep the restaurant moving onward and upward.  It’s an interesting choice to say the least. I’ll reveal the name of RM’s latest addition shortly.  Best wishes to him too.  Oops…I’ve already said too much!

Learn How To Make Tasty Things From Sara Steele

Learn How To Make Tasty Things From Sara Steele

On Tuesday, November 30th, the lovely Pastry Chef of Botero at the Encore Resort, Sara Steele, will be doing a Holiday Desserts Cooking Class at the Whole Foods Ft. Apache location from 6pm – 8pm.  Sara will be covering Gingerbread Cookies, Egg Nog Creme Brulee and Holiday Fudge.  In case you can’t make this one, Sara will be holding the class on December 7th at the Town Square Whole Foods and then at the Tenaya location on December 14th.

Decent Food Served Here. Trattoria del Lupo by Wolfgang Puck at Mandalay Bay

Decent Food Served Here. Trattoria del Lupo by Wolfgang Puck at Mandalay Bay

One of the more underrated Italian joints in town, Trattoria del Lupo by Wolfgang Puck at the Mandalay Bay resort is offering a limited time 5-course tasting menu starting Thursday, December 2nd and going through December 16th.  The tasting menu will include items such as  Sautéed Calamari, Jerusalem Artichoke Agnolotti, Portobello Mushroom Crusted Grouper and Duck Breast and Confit Leg with Golden Lentil Ragout with Pomegranate and natural jus.  The 5-course menu is $55, and Las Vegas locals get 20% off food bringing the pre-tax, pre-tip price to $44!  Thems sound like some good eats!

Shorts and Sandwiches At Town Square (photo: twitter.com/tommy_bahama_lv)

Shorts and Sandwiches At Town Square (photo: twitter.com/tommy_bahama_lv)

Tommy Bahama’s in Town Square is now boasting the largest Rum Bar in Vegas, and certainly the largest Rum Bar found in any other clothing store / restaurant.  With over 150 rums to choose from, how do they even have room for the underwear section?  It’s an international assortment of rums with representatives from everywhere from the Brazil to Thailand and Jamaica to Nicaragua.  They also have a number of exclusive signature cocktails which all pair nicely with flowery printed shirts.

Foul Mouthed Fun For Everyone!

Foul Mouthed Fun For Everyone!

Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast is BACK this week with all sorts of news!  First of which is that there will be a new format to the show, which I think most people should dig the changes.  Also, one of the most highly anticipated events of the season, The Next Phase of Tasting Las Vegas, will finally be revealed.  I’m incredibly excited about The Next Phase.  We’ve come a long way and had a good time in this first year. This new addition to TLV will give us many more good times to come. I promise.  Be the first to hear all the latest developments when the next episode of Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast is uploaded to the internets on Wednesday, December 1st!

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast, Ep. 07 - Chef Sam DeMarco of First Food and Bar

This week on Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast, I’m joined with the love of my life and yours, The Wife, where we discuss some good and some not so good Recent Eats as well as reveal 5 Places With Pasta In Las Vegas That Can’t Be Missed.  Then I sit down with the one, the only, Chef Sam DeMarco of First Food and Bar at the Palazzo resort where I basically just pressed record and watched him take off.  Then The Wife makes her triumphant return for The News With The Wife, The TLV Cheap Eats of the Week and so much more!

Click Here To Listen To Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast, Episode 07

Check Out Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast On The iTunes!

Chef Sam DeMarco of First Food and Bar at the Palazzo

Chef Sam DeMarco of First Food and Bar at the Palazzo

Please support our fabulous sponsor VegasMate!

Get more information about the best app for Las Vegas at http://VegasMate.com

Follow Vegas Mate on Twitter at @VegasMate

Joints That We Talked About:

  • First Food and Bar
  • Naked City Pizza Shop
  • Otto Enoteca and Pizzeria
  • Firefly
  • CUT by Wolfgang Puck
  • The Pasta Shop
  • Rao’s
  • Casa Di Amore
  • RM Seafood
  • Sirio Ristorante
  • The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
  • STK Steakhouse
  • i (heart) burgers
  • Wolfgang Puck Cucina & Pizzeria

Tha’ Links:

Check out Crossings by Nathan Tanouye and the Las Vegas Jazz Connectionon CDBaby.com

Follow The Wife on Twitter at @TLV_TheWife

See the Las Vegas Jazz Connection Live on Sunday, November 21 at 2:00pm! Tickets and Info Found Here

Follow First Food and Bar on Twitter at @FirstFoodandBar

Follow the Naked City Pizza Shop on Twitter at @NakedCityLV

Follow Tequila Ambhar on Twitter at @TequilaAmbharNV

My Post on Carnevino: The Place I Really Want To Like But Just Can’t

More about i (heart) burgers employment opportunities is found here

My Post on Clark County School District Lunches Get A Tweak From Wolfgang Puck’s Crew

Please Support Three Square at http://ThreeSquare.org

Follow Three Square on Twitter at @ThreeSquareLV

My visit to Three Square during Vegas Uncork’d

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Monday Mise en Place: Chefs Stephen Hopcraft and Gerald Chin Move To The Cosmopolitan

Chef Stephen Hopcraft, soon to be Executive Chef of STK Steakhouse in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Chef Stephen Hopcraft, soon to be Executive Chef of STK Steakhouse in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Some of Las Vegas’ best and brightest in the culinary world are packing up their knives and moving to The Cosmopolitan! Chef Stephen Hopcraft is scheduled to work his last service at Seablue at the MGM Grand on Thanksgiving, then he will assume his new role as Executive Chef of STK Steakhouse at the Cosmo.  Also making the move to John Unwin’s Merry House of Tasty Eats is Chef Gerald Chin, formerly of RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay.  Gerald worked his last service at RM Seafood this past weekend and is now preparing for his new role as Chef de Cuisine of the Cosmopolitan Hotel.  Presumably this means Gerald will be overseeing things like room service and banquets, thusly solidifying Cosmo’s ass-kicking status for all things food related.  We’re still a month away from the big opening on December 15th, but all signs point to The Cosmopolitan as a major game changer in the Las Vegas culinary scene.  No word on who will be getting the bump to Gerald’s former position with RM Seafood or Stephen’s at Seablue.

Logo of the name of the restaurant I'm too lazy to type out

Logo of the name of the restaurant I'm too lazy to type out

i (heart) burgers is hiring 100 positions for both back and front of house.  They’ll be having open interviews on Sunday, November 20 from noon to 5pm and Monday, November 21 from 9am-2pm.  You need to be 21 or older and with a legit government I.D. to apply.  The interviews will take place in the Casanova Ballroom in the Venetian resort.  For more information, visit ilvburgers.com. Good luck!

Kiddies from the last tasting for the CCSD at Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina

Kiddies from the last tasting for the CCSD at Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina

For the second time this school year, Chef Dustin Lewandowski and the fine folks at Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina in the Crystals Mall at CityCenter will be hosting Clark County School District students to get some feedback on some new, tastier and healthier ideas for school lunch.  On Wednesday, November 17th, 6th graders from Fremont and Miller Middle Schools will be the judges this time around.  In case you missed it, check out the post I wrote when a group of 5th graders recently checked out the Wolfman’s goods.

The Face of Las Vegas Dining - Jet Tila

The Face of Las Vegas Dining - Jet Tila

I don’t know about you, but my DVR seems to be overflowing with Chef Jet Tila of Wazuzu at the Encore resort these days.  Hot off the heels from his big shout out from Giada DeLaurentiis on the Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate With Chopsticks, Jet was on the CBS Early Morning Show this past Saturday morning doing a cooking demo.  Word has it that The Face Of Las Vegas Dining is just getting started with major TV appearances.  I’m not just sayin’, but I’m just sayin’.   In case you missed it, here’s a link to the video of Jet’s very fine cooking demo.  I’m setting the over / under for Jet’s Dancing With The Stars debut at 2012 and the under is looking like a good bet!

Nothing Says The Holidays Like a Twinkling Cactus (photo: Ethel M. Chocolates)

Nothing Says The Holidays Like a Twinkling Cactus (photo: Ethel M. Chocolates)

On Tuesday, November 16th, The 17th Annual Cactus Lighting at the Ethel M. Chocolates factory in Henderson will be done.  The event goes from 5-8pm with the actual lighting of the cacti happening about 6pm.  This year, comedian George Wallace will host, so it should be a good time.  Tickets are required to go to the event, and a ticket can be gotten for every unwrapped toy you donate at Ethel M.  Tickets will be given on a first come first serve basis, so call (800) 471-0352 to get more information and to check availability.

I'm sure they got at least one or two right...

I'm sure they got at least one or two right...

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to the big book debut of local comrades in food, John Curtas, Max Jacobson and Al Mancini with their Eating Las Vegas: 50 Essential Restaurants as it hits the bookshelves this Wednesday, November 17th.  I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what they picked as our 50 essential so I can have a great time telling you how much they fucked it up!  Ha!  I kid….sort of….  Best wishes to the Three Amigos on much success for their book.  Just think, they have a whole 28 days from the drop before it becomes totally obsolete! Yes, I already went there.  I have to.  It’s what I do.

Good Times Guaranteed at Tasting Las Vegas: The Tweetup at Naked City Pizza Shop!  Come hang!

Good Times Guaranteed at Tasting Las Vegas: The Tweetup at Naked City Pizza Shop! Come hang!

Tonight, Monday, November 15th is the big night!  The first official Tasting Las Vegas: The Tweetup is on!  The Tweetup starts at 6pm and will be held at the Naked City Pizza Shop inside MoonDoggies Bar on Arville at Desert Inn.  Look for MoonDoggies Bar and walk inside.  There will be all sorts of food and drink specials such as $2 slices of pizza, 50 cent wings, $2 off Beef on Weck Subs, $12 pitchers of Labatt Blue and 2 for 1 Newcastle bottles!  I’m also excited that Ambhar Tequila will be on hand with one of their lovely Ambhar Goddesses (wa wa wee wa) to pass out samples of their wares.  Good times are guaranteed!  Tell your friends and come hang!  We start at 6pm and it will go until at least 9!

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast, Ep. 05 - Chef Roy Ellamar of Sensi

This week on Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast, The Wife returns as we talk about some fabulous Recent Eats, we talk about the upcoming Tasting Las Vegas: The Tweetup at the Naked City Pizza Shop on November 15th and we reveal our 5 Overrated Restaurants in Las Vegas That Can Be Missed.  Then I’m joined with Chef de Cuisine of Sensi at the Bellagio, Roy Ellamar, where we talk about cooking for the President and First Lady, the importance of buying organic and sustainable foods and much more.  Then The Wife makes her triumphant return for The News With The Wife, the TLV Cheap Eats Of The Week and so much more!

Click Here To Listen To Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast, Episode 05

Check Out Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast On The iTunes!

Chef Roy Ellamar of Sensi at the Bellagio

Chef Roy Ellamar of Sensi at the Bellagio

Joints That We Talked About:

  • Sensi
  • Silk Road
  • Naked City Pizza Shop
  • First Food and Bar
  • RM Seafood
  • Nittaya’s Secret Kitchen
  • Earl of Sandwich
  • Carnevino
  • Lotus of Siam
  • Settebello
  • Match Restaurant
  • In-N-Out Burger
  • Molto Vegas Farmers Market
  • Nove Italiano
  • Fleur by Hubert Keller
  • Bradley Ogden
  • P.J. Clarke’s
  • Nobhill Tavern

Tha’ Links:

Check out Crossings by Nathan Tanouye and the Las Vegas Jazz Connection on CDBaby.com

Follow The Wife on Twitter at @TLV_TheWife

Follow The Official Twitter Page of Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast at @TLV_ThePodcast

See the Las Vegas Jazz Connection Live on Sunday, November 21 at 2:00pm! Tickets and Info Found Here

More information about the Tasting Las Vegas: The Tweetup at Naked City Pizza Shop on November 15

Please RSVP to the Tasting Las Vegas: The Tweetup on Facebook or on the Twtvite

More information about Ghost Adventures is on their website

The Las Vegas Restaurants Serving Bluefin Tuna List Of Shame

Follow Chef Roy Ellamar on Twitter at @unkoroy

More information about Sensi is here

Check out The Dave Scott Show on LVRocks.com, I’ll be the guest on November 19th!

Follow First Food and Bar on Twitter at @FirstFoodandBar

Follow Chef Rick Moonen on Twitter at @RickMoonen

My article a while back about the Molto Vegas Farmers Market is here

Find out more about Project Dinner Table here

The number for Nove Italiano to find out more about Saturday’s Cooking Class is (702) 942-6856

Follow Nobhill Tavern on Twitter at @NobhillTavernLV

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast, Ep. 04 - Chris Palmeri, Chef/Owner Naked City Pizza Shop

This week on Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast, I’m joined once again with The Wife where we declare war on restaurants in Las Vegas that serve Bluefin Tuna.  Then we discuss some of our Recent Eats and reveal our 5 Underrated Restaurants in Las Vegas That Can’t Be Missed.  Then I sit down with Chef/Owner of the Naked City Pizza Shop, Chris Palmeri, where we talk about proper Buffalo-style eating and drinking as well as some inside information on the notoriously corrupt Truffle trade.  Then The Wife returns for The News With The Wife, The TLV Cheap Eats of The Week and so much more!

Click Here To Listen To Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast, Episode 04

Check Out Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast on the iTunes!

Chef/Owner of the Naked City Pizza Shop, Chris Palmeri

Chef/Owner of the Naked City Pizza Shop, Chris Palmeri

Joints We Talked About:

  • Naked City Pizza Shop
  • Lakeside Grill
  • Raku
  • Caribbean Cooker
  • Ernie’s
  • Rare 120 Steakhouse
  • Hussong’s Cantina
  • Hash House A Go Go
  • Fausto’s Mexican Grill
  • Fiamma
  • Paymon’s Mediterranean Cafe
  • Tabú Ultra Lounge
  • First Food and Bar
  • Alex
  • Stratta
  • Bachi Burger
  • Firefly
  • Total Wine and More

Tha’ Links:

Check out Crossings by Nathan Tanouye and the Las Vegas Jazz Connection on CDBaby.com

Follow The Wife on Twitter at @TLV_TheWife

Follow The Official Twitter Page of Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast at @TLV_ThePodcast

Follow The Naked City Pizza Shop on Twitter at @NakedCityLV

The Naked City Pizza Shop’s website is at NakedCityLV.com

Buy the Jaw Dropping Documentary The End Of The Line in Tasting Las Vegas: The Store by Amazon

A scene about the Bluefin Tuna Catastrophe from The End Of The Line on YouTube

Raku’s website is at www.raku-grill.com

You can call Chef Endo of Raku and ask him to not offer Bluefin Tuna in his restaurant at (702) 367-3511

Caribbean Cooker and Ernie’s website is at www.caribbeancooker.net

Follow Hussong’s Cantina on Twitter at @HussongsVegas

Follow Hash House A Go Go on Twitter at @HashHouseLV

Follow Fiamma on Twitter at @FiammaLV

Follow Paymon’s on Twitter at @PaymonsHookah

Follow Tabú Ultra Lounge on Twitter at @TabuLounge

Follow First Food and Bar on Twitter at @FirstFoodandBar

Get more information and print out your free tickets to the Vegas Podcast-A-Palooza at VegasPodcastAPalooza.com

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast - Episode 03, Chef Carla Pellegrino of Rao's

This week on Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast, I’m joined once again with The Wife where we discuss The Great Bluefin Tuna / Lakeside Grill Controversy of Yesterday, the good times at the Blogworld and New Media Expo, our recent eats, and we also reveal our 5 Cocktails in Las Vegas That Can’t Be Missed.  Then I’m joined with the lovely, passionate and very talented Executive Chef of Rao’s at Caesars Palace, Carla Pellegrino, where she dishes on the big changes at Caesars, being a woman in a man’s world, how she rose from a tiny shop in Liguria, Italy to one of the most popular restaurants on The Las Vegas Strip.  Then The Wife returns for The News With The Wife, the TLV Cheap Eats of the Week and so much more!

Click Here To Listen To Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast, Episode 03

Check Out Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast on iTunes!

Chef Carla Pellegrino of Rao's

Chef Carla Pellegrino of Rao's

Joints We Talked About:

  • Lakeside Grill
  • Shibuya
  • Fiamma
  • Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak
  • Nobhill Tavern
  • Yellowtail
  • Origin India
  • Rao’s
  • Julian Serrano
  • Presidio
  • Garfield’s
  • Nu Sanctuary
  • Sage
  • RM Seafood
  • Max Brenner
  • Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria and Cucina
  • Atomic #7
  • Payard Patisserie and Bistro

Tha’ Links:

Check out Crossings by Nathan Tanouye and the Las Vegas Jazz Connection onCDBaby.com

Follow The Wife on Twitter at @TLV_TheWife

Follow The Official Twitter Page of Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast at@TLV_ThePodcast

Follow Chef Carla Pellegrino on Twitter at @ChefCarlaPelleg

Visit Carla’s brand spanking new website at ChefCarlaPellegrino.com

The big Lakeside Grill / Bluefin Tuna Bruhaha I started

Follow Wynn Las Vegas on Twitter at @WynnLasVegas

Download the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guide TODAY!

Follow Babette Pepaj on Twitter at @Bakespace

Visit Bakespace.com and be amazed!

Follow Sara O’Donnell as Average Betty on Twitter at @averagebetty

Check out AverageBetty.com, she’s hilarious!

See Bitchin’ Kitchen on The Cooking Channel!

Follow Jaden Hair on Twitter at @SteamyKitchen

Check out Jaden’s amazing website at SteamyKitchen.com

Follow Manouschka Guerrier on Twitter at @singleserving

Follow Seablue on Twitter at @SeablueLV

Follow what’s happening at the MGM Grand Restaurants on Twitter at @TasteMGMGrand

Follow Shibuya on Twitter at @ShibuyaLV

Follow Fiamma on Twitter at @FiammaLV

Follow Cynthia Inguanzo on Twitter at @CynthiaInguanzo

Follow Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak on Twitter at @CraftsteakLV

Follow Nobhill Tavern on Twitter at @NobhillTavernLV

Follow Akira Back on Twitter at @akiraback and tell him to make sure Bluefin is OFF Yellowtail’s menu!

Follow Origin India on Twitter at @OriginIndia

Follow Max Brenner on Twitter at @MaxBrennerUSA

Follow Chef Rick Moonen on Twitter at @RickMoonen

Follow Project Dinner Table on Twitter at @food4good

Check out Project Dinner Table and the great work they do at ProjectDinnerTable.com

Follow Atomic #7 on Twitter at @Atomic7IceCream

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Monday Mise en Place: Wolfgang Puck Restaurants Partner With Clark County School District To Make Healthier Lunches

Wolfgang Puck Working With a Yout. (photo: wolfgangpuck.com)

Wolfgang Puck Working With a Yout. (photo: wolfgangpuck.com)

Since 2007, Wolfgang Puck restaurants have partnered with the Clark County School District to both educate kids on making healthier decisions and to provide kid tested, mother approved recipes to the school district so the students can eat a little better.  Tomorrow, October 19, this tradition continues as students from Hollingsworth and Cox Elementary Schools will be on hand at the Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria and Cucina at the Crystals Mall to learn about and taste new healthy items created by the Puck team.  A second event will be held for 6th graders from Fremont and Miller Middle Schools on November 17th.  Tasting Las Vegas (that’s me) will be on hand tomorrow to report on what goes down.

Taking the phrase "Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen" to a whole new level

Taking the phrase "Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen" to a whole new level

Chefs Rick Moonen and Adam Sobel Making Sure There's No Suckage at the Jean-Louis Palladin Dinner

Chefs Rick Moonen and Adam Sobel Making Sure There's No Suckage at the Jean-Louis Palladin Dinner

Servers Lined Up And Awaiting Takeoff At Jean-Louis Palladin Benefit

Servers Lined Up And Awaiting Takeoff At Jean-Louis Palladin Benefit

Who Other than Chef André Rochat Should Be Overseeing One of the Foie Gras Courses?

Who Other than Chef André Rochat Should Be Overseeing One of the Foie Gras Courses?

The Eyes of Jean-Louis Palladin Overlooking the Makeshift Sauciers Station

The Eyes of Jean-Louis Palladin Overlooking the Makeshift Sauciers Station

Yesterday, October 17th the Jean-Louis Palladin dinner benefiting the James Beard Foundation happened at RM Seafood.  Twenty of the finest chefs in the city were on hand creating an extraordinary meal from recipes all taken from the Late Chef Palladin’s “Cooking With The Seasons.” The Omnipresent Robin Leach was on hand as he donated his time to serve as MC and auctioneer of the event.  By the way, he also paid for both his $295 tickets and donated an additional $2,000 to the Jean-Louis Palladin Fund which provides scholarships for up and coming chefs to go to culinary school.  I’m broke, so I just hung out in the kitchen after eating my $12 Catfish Sloppy Joe downstairs.  The Catfish Sloppy Joe was tasty.  The event was almost incomprehensibly amazing.  I’m sure Sir Robin will be writing up a full post about the event, and I’ll certainly put out the link on Facebook and Twitter when he does.

Custom Made Ice Creams Made Here

Custom Made Ice Creams Made Here

Atomic #7 has created a fall menu of autumn inspired ice creams, lattes and hot puddings.  The hot puddings will come in array of falltastic (did I really just type that?) flavors that include; cinnamon, chai, chocolate, vanilla, cardamom and rum raisin.  Yes, please!  Atomic #7 is located near the Galleria Mall in The Hendo, next to Panera Bread.  They’re open 7 days a week from noon to 10:30pm.

Mix 94.1 Bite of Las Vegas (image: Mix 94.1)

Mix 94.1 Bite of Las Vegas (image: Mix 94.1)

The Hash House A Go Go Sahara location will be hosting the kickoff party for Mix 94.1′s Bite of Las Vegas event on Wednesday, October 20, from 6pm-8pm.  There will be tents set up in the Hash House parking lot where you’ll be able to partake in $1 Draft Beers, $5 Mashed Potato and Bacon Stuffed Burgers, $3 Snickers Chocolate Bread Pudding and more.  Mix 94.1′s JC Fernandez will be on hand and there will be all sorts of giveaways such as the first 50 people that show up will get tickets to see George Wallace at the Flamingo!  If nothing else, that makes the trip worth it…George Wallace is HILARIOUS!  I don’t know shit about the actual Bite of Las Vegas event, but I’m sure you can find out all sorts of information about it as you gorge on cheap mashed potato stuffed burgers at Hash House Sahara on Wednesday!

The Wife and I With Chef Julian Serrano

The Wife and I With Chef Julian Serrano

How exciting that John Mariani of Esquire magazine named Julian Serrano at Aria as one of the Best New Restaurants of 2010! This makes me kind of proud, as in the beginning, the other boys in town were on their knees for Sage and going gaga over Gagniare at Twist…but all along I’ve said the best restaurant at CityCenter was Julian Serrano.  Now it’s getting some much deserved national attention by one of their own, and not just as best at CityCenter, but one of the best in the nation.  Congrats to Chefs Julian Serrano, Jose Picazo and the entire crew at Julian Serrano!  In all fairness, Sage was also mentioned in Mariani’s article as one of the “Another Eleven Restaurants Not To Miss,” so the other boys were close, but no cigar!

How the hell this is the only close-up picture I got of Babette of the entire 3 days I spent with her, I have no idea.

How the hell this is the only close-up picture I got of Babette of the entire 3 days I spent with her, I have no idea.

I’m going to do my best to write a full post about all of the happenings at this past weekend’s Blogworld and New Media Expo, but I want to give a major shoutout to one of the most amazing human beings I have ever met, Babette Pepaj of Bakespace.com fame, for putting on one hell of a show with the TECHmunch track at this year’s conference.  I really don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone with their shit more together than Babette.  Like if that wasn’t enough, she’s a total sweetheart, too!  The series of panel discussions and cooking demos she put together was a smash hit at the conference.  I can’t thank her enough for including this little bubble gum and duct tape operation to sit along side some of the most amazing and successful people in food blogging today.  Words can’t express how truly thankful I am and what a spectacular show she put on.  If you like to cook anything in your kitchen, Bakespace.com is a must for you to visit.  Babette has built an online community of home cooks and bakers like none other.  She’s good.

Nadia G. of Bitchin Kitchen on the left talking with Chef Carla Pellegrino on the right (photo: Kevin Stout)

Nadia G. of Bitchin Kitchen on the left talking with Chef Carla Pellegrino on the right (photo: Kevin Stout)

I’ll certainly talk a whole bunch about the Blogworld and New Media Expo along with the plethora of tastings we did on this week’s Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast.  Also on this week’s Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast will be my interview with the beautiful, talented and did I say beautiful Executive Chef of Rao’s at Caesars Palace, Carla Pellegrino!  You can listen to how deep of a hole I dig for myself with The Wife as well as hear Chef Carla talk about what it’s like being a woman in a man’s world.  Carla also describes some Italian food porn so fantastic that you may need to keep tissues at the ready!  Her love for food and cooking is inspiring and you can hear it this Wednesday, only on Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast!

By the way….in my HOLY SHIT moment of the day, I just saw that Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast has only been rolling for less than two weeks, but it has already been heard by people in 56 different countries! Wow!  Much appreciation to you all, thanks for tuning in!

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Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Stephen Hopcraft Talks About His Journey From Dishwasher To Top Chef

For the last four years or so, Stephen Hopcraft has served as the Executive Chef of Michael Mina’s Seablue in the MGM Grand.  It’s been quite the journey for him, growing up in Ohio, then onto Santa Cruz where he first got into cooking, then up to San Francisco where he honed his craft and eventually made his way to Our Little Twinkle in the Desert.  Along the way he picked up a wife, a couple of kids and a little bit of reality show celebrity. Not bad for a kid from Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Executive Chef of Michael Mina's Seablue, Stephen Hopcraft

Executive Chef of Michael Mina's Seablue, Stephen Hopcraft

From Ohio, Hopcraft went to Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz, CA where he was going to be a Sculpture major.(just when I thought there wasn’t anything more useless than my Music degree) Like many college kids, he got a job starting off as a dishwasher at a local restaurant, and like so many in The Life of the culinary industry, life in the kitchen became much more attractive than life in the “real” world.  It was at The Dolphin on Santa Cruz’ Municipal Wharf where Stephen first cut his teeth in the kitchen, working his way up from Dishwasher to practically running the restaurant.  As The Dolphin was basically a “fish n’ chips” joint, Stephen sought out cooking that was a little more involved, wanting to learn the craft.  He looked around town and found Café Bittersweet and Chef Thomas Vinolus.

Hopcraft credits Vinolus with really teaching him how to cook.  How to make sauces, how to make soups and the fundamentals of cooking that every chef lives or dies by.  After Chef Vinolus felt he taught Hopcraft all he could, he suggested to Stephen to enroll in culinary school and that’s exactly what he did.  Stephen enrolled in the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco which not only rounded out Stephen’s education, but placed him in the area where he met the people he needed to meet to get to the place where he is today.  While at CCA, Stephen did his externship with Charlie Trotter. When his time there was done, he asked Trotter where to go from there, to which Trotter suggested Aqua.  Thus the relationship of Stephen Hopcraft and Michael Mina was born.

Before Michael Mina became the incredibly successful restaurateur we know him to be today, Mina was Executive Chef at Aqua in San Francisco.  Starting off as garde-manger (French for Salad Bitch), Hopcraft eventually worked his way up to a Line Cook in his first of what would be several working relationships with Mina.  When Mina left Aqua to begin an empire of his own, Hopcraft bounced around a few other restaurants in the San Francisco area until he joined up with Mina once again at Arcadia.

It was at Arcadia where he fancied the Pastry Chef, Catherine, and love blossomed.  Catherine wanted to further her career in Las Vegas, so Stephen and Catherine did the long distance thing for a bit until Stephen couldn’t stand being away from his honey so much. Stephen decided to take the Vegas plunge as well and eventually married the baker of his dreams.  Stephen started off at Bouchon in the Venetian as Mina had yet to take over Las Vegas.  He worked at Bouchon for about 8 or 9 months until he got the call from Michael Mina’s friend and now business partner, Andre Agassi, that he was getting into the restaurant biz and was opening Sedona in Summerlin (a neighborhood of Vegas filled to the brim with the entitled, for those not familiar).

Sedona was Hopcraft’s first real role as Executive Chef, designing the menu and doing all of the fun things that Executive Chefs do.  When Sedona was about to change hands, Stephen left to help open Mina’s Stripsteak at Mandalay Bay for about 8 months until the position opened up at Seablue where Hopcraft has been doing his thing as Executive Chef for the last 4 years.

Table setting at Seablue

Table setting at Seablue

Across the hall from Seablue in the MGM Grand stands Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak.  The geography of this is important because Colicchio and the fine folks at Bravo were holding open auditions for Top Chef at his place.  Seeing the sign on his way walking into work, Hopcraft made one of those defining at-the-whim kind of decisions and gave the audition a shot.  The producers loved him so it was off to Washington D.C. to tape this latest season of Top Chef.

As fans of the show (although you might not be a fan of this season. Woof.) have seen, Stephen couldn’t quite get in a rhythm on the show.  Like Reggie Bush, he spent a lot of time on the bottom. (get it?) Like the good man he is, Stephen owns up to it.  Stephen told me about a lot of the Monday Morning Quarterbacking he’s done since the taping and his episodes have aired. He should have studied the show more, he should have gone with the competition more…these are all things he understands should have been done.

One of the big disadvantages Stephen felt he had is that his catering chops weren’t up to snuff.  As you may notice, many of the Elimination Challenges up front are buffet-style steam table events.  Cooking a la minute and restaurant-style plate the food, send it to the table kind of format is a completely different set of chops than cooking food that will do well under the conditions of a chafing dish.  Stephen kicks himself for not studying the show more to realize the more restaurant style challenges don’t come until later in the season, you know…the week after Stephen got eliminated.  So close, yet so far.

As Seen On TV: Stephen Hopcraft

As Seen On TV: Stephen Hopcraft

Stephen will be the first to tell you that the whole point of Top Chef is to get chefs out of their comfort zone. Stephen told me, “The whole thing is take you out of your comfort zone, put you on your heels and now go cook. That’s the show. Some people adapt to it better than others. For sure.”  I was surprised when I asked him about his preparations for the show if he called up any buddies that were previous contestants to get the inside track and he said no that he thought that was cheating.  It speaks volumes to the guy’s character, but even I, who I like to think is a fairly stand-up, honest fellow is scratching his head with that one.

Speaking of his character, I asked Stephen if he liked the way he was portrayed on the show, as the editing room can often be a cold-hearted bitch.  He seemed pleased and thought he came across as the easy going, fun loving guy that he thinks he is.  I definitely agree with that, both that he is and that’s how he came across on the show.  While Stephen can stand up tall with how he was as a human being on the show, he obviously has a few regrets with some of the cooking choices he made.

One that stands out in his mind is, of course, the dish he got eliminated on.  For those that need a refresher or haven’t seen the show, the challenge was to cook a dish for a bunch of international dignitaries that used the flavor profile of a particular country.  Stephen got Brazil, a country whose cuisine he was not particularly familiar with.  I can see that.  When I think of Brazil I think of two things; nether region waxing and women with tremendously fabulous asses.  Stephen opted to use products from Brazil and come up with something on his own; a marinated skirt steak over rice.  The flavors were well received, but it was the rice destroyed by yet another chafing dish that cut his Top Chef run short. You don’t cook buffet rice like you do when you plate it in the kitchen and send it out to the table to be served.  Oops.

Another tough thing for Stephen to wrap his head around were the difficulties of shopping. “You’ve got $200 to make 150 portions of food. You do the math on that one,” said Stephen.  Also what was difficult for him was shopping at the same place, Whole Foods, all of the time. On this Hopcraft says, “They have great products, but shopping at the same place for every challenge made it tough for me to come up with something in a new direction.”  Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery to have a change of mindset, something Stephen would be the first to tell you he desperately needed for the competition.

Hopcraft’s advice to future contestants on Top Chef is that, “the person that will always do best on that show is the person that is able to change and grow and really respond to what the judges are looking for and open up. I think there were some contestants, me being one of them, obviously I got eliminated, that kind of just got stuck on their own thing on what they want to do and really just kept on plugging away at that.”  He then added, ”I kept on trying to do something that wasn’t there, try to make something that was out of something it wasn’t. I kept trying to do that and make it happen when I should have backed off and let the challenge and the ingredients speak for themselves and do it in that way.”

While Stephen feels that he might have done a few things differently, he has no regrets doing Top Chef.  In fact, he has a few moments of pride, his Quickfire Toothpick Challenge entry being one of them, which he thinks he should have won.  He said, “I think that a lot of people got to see what I’m all about personality wise.  I don’t think it highlighted my cooking abilities, again, just because that’s not the way that I process things and cook.”

Chef Stephen Hopcraft In Front of HIs Home Turf, Seablue

Chef Stephen Hopcraft In Front of HIs Home Turf, Seablue

If you want to see how Stephen Hopcraft really cooks, there is no better time than right now as there are still a few days of Restaurant Week remaining (it goes through September 5th).  Hopcraft is proud of his Restaurant Week menu by picking some of the more “foodie type things” on Seablue’s menu, one of which is a first course choice of Tandoori Octopus.  Also on the menu are choices between Scallop Ceviche and Chicken & Chorizo Empanadas for the first course, Paella, Angus Ribeye and Arctic Char for the main and Bananas Foster Creme Brulee for dessert.  The three course meal goes for $50.10 with $6 of that directly benefiting Three Square.  That’s 18 meals for some people in need here in Southern Nevada.

While Stephen’s time on Top Chef has come to an end, there’s still a chance for him to bring home a W for the 702, and that is for Fan Favorite.  The polls are open now and close on September 8th for us to vote for Stephen as our Fan Favorite. A direct link to vote for Stephen Hopcraft as your Fan Favorite on Top Chef is here http://www.bravotv.com/livevote/top-chef/fan-favorite.  Wouldn’t it be nice for his two lovely, fresh out of the oven, twin daughters, Chloe and Madison, to have a Daddy that’s a Fan Favorite?  10 G’s buys a lot of toys for them, so get out the vote and let’s bring one home for the 702!  (Oh yeah, and while you’re in the voting spirit, there’s another guy I know looking for votes)

Thanks to Chef Stephen for taking the time out of his day to chat with me for a bit.  It was nice getting to meet him and I look forward to testing out his wares in the near future.  Don’t forget his Restaurant Week selections, it’s one of the better looking menus of the lot.

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Seablue

MGM Grand Hotel & Casino
3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S
Las Vegas, NV 89109

(702) 891-3486

http://www.mgmgrand.com/restaurants/seablue-mediterranean-restaurant.aspx

Follow Seablue on Twitter at @SeablueLV

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Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Want To Be At The Greatest Party Ever Thrown On Earth? Then Vote Everyday From Now Through 09/30/10! Thanks!

Want To Be At The Greatest Party Ever Thrown On Earth? Then Vote Everyday From Now Through 09/30/10! Thanks!