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Monday Mise en Place: Social House Takes Bluefin Tuna Off Their Menu

Social House Now Bluefin Free! Yay!

Social House Now Bluefin Free! Yay!

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve finally been able to take a restaurant on The Las Vegas Restaurants Serving Bluefin Tuna List Of Shame off the list! Social House at the Crystals Mall in CityCenter has made the responsible choice to no longer offer the gravely endangered fish on their menu.  I hope other restaurants on that list will see the same light Social House did and follow suit.  Many thanks to TLV Army member, Julie Minadeo, for alerting me to Social House’s decision.  Remember, if you see Bluefin Tuna on a menu or inquire about what kind of tuna a restaurant uses and they say bluefin, let me know!  Together we can play a significant role in saving a species. Not bad.

This Man Wants To Hang With YOU!

This Man Wants To Hang With YOU!

As the couple two three dozen TLV Army members who rolled out to the first Tasting Las Vegas: The Tweetup can attest, Chris Palmeri, The Naked City Pizza Shop and MoonDoggies Bar know how to host a hang!  Hot off the heels of the good times at the Tweetup, they’re hosting Las Vegas’ Biggest Thanksgiving Eve Party on Wednesday, November 24th starting at 9pm.  Back in Buffalo, Thanksgiving Eve is the biggest drinking night of the year as old friends come back to town and hang until the wee hours.  There will be all sorts of specials, the kitchen will be open all night, there’ll be drinking games, prizes and a whole bunch more.  Good times guaranteed.  Remember TLV encourages you to drink responsibly!  Please throw up in the toilet, not the sink!

Fukuburger Rolling To MoonDoggies Bar and the Naked City Pizza Shop. Good Times Guaranteed!

Fukuburger Rolling To MoonDoggies Bar and the Naked City Pizza Shop. Good Times Guaranteed!

And because the party never stops at the Naked City Pizza Shop you might as well just stay there through Saturday, November 27th as the NCPS and MoonDoggies Bar teams up with Fukuburger for a blowout hang event!  Stay tuned to Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter and Facebook as details roll out this week about the big event.   You can also follow the Naked City Pizza Shop on Twitter at @NakedCityLV and Fukuburger at @fukuburger.

Ambhar Goddess Amanda Says Make Her A Drink.  She's pretty.

Ambhar Goddess Amanda Says Make Her A Drink. She's pretty.

Ambhar Tequila will be hosting the Ambhar Challenge to see who makes the best Ambhar Tequila based cocktail.  Preliminaries will be held on Monday, November 29th at Southern Wine and Spirits on 8400 S. Jones Blvd. at 7pm. The only requirement is that you use Ambhar Tequila in your cocktail.  From the open prelims, 6 finalists will be chosen to compete at the Grand Opening Celebration of the brand spanking new Ambhar Lounge at the Tropicana hotel on December 1st from 7pm-10pm.  For more information check out Ambhar Tequila’s Facebook page. You can also follow Ambhar Tequila on Twitter at @TequilaAmbharNV.  Good luck!

Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast Taking A Break To Eat Turkey

Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast Taking A Break To Eat Turkey

A little programming note for this week, our next new Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast will be uploaded to the internets for your listening pleasure on December 1st.  We’re taking a week off for Thanksgiving.  We need it. I’m tired.  Really tired. However, there’s some exciting stuff when we return, one of which is that we’ll be starting a new format to the show!  We’ve decided to separate the restaurant talk and hilarious banter which we’ve all grown to love into one episode, then there will be a separate episode that will be just the Chef Interview.  The idea is that y’all will have two separate shorter bits so it will be a tad easier to digest.

Also on our triumphant return on December 1st, we will announce The Next Phase of Tasting Las Vegas which I couldn’t be more excited about!   Don’t worry, we’re still going to be the bubble gum and duct tape operation of Las Vegas restaurant news and reviews…we’re just going to have an addition to the family.  And no…The Wife isn’t knocked up.  In the meantime, you can catch up on our first 7 episodes which are all found here.  Enjoy and have a great Thanksgiving!

—–
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

Sustainability FAIL: Walzog Has Bluefin Tuna On Lakeside Grill Menu

In the “How The Fuck Can This Happen” moment of the day, I was just sent the menu for the yet-to-open Lakeside Grill at Wynn Las Vegas and, lo and behold, my eyes popped out of my head when I saw Bluefin Tuna Carpaccio on the Soups and Salads portion of the menu.  The Bluefin Tuna is of the most endangered of all the endangered species of fish that are in the sea.  The gross overfishing of the Bluefin has put the poor bastard on the brink of extinction.  While everyday-consumers might not know this, a chef of David Walzog’s (Executive Chef of Lakeside Grill) caliber should know this and this item on the otherwise decent looking menu is a great shame.  Here’s a screenshot of the point of concern with Lakeside Grill’s menu…

Lakeside Grill Menu, Sent to me on 10/19/10

Lakeside Grill Menu, Sent to me on 10/19/10

So after looking at this, I then thought of all the recent sushi / sashimi tastings I’ve been on, and thought to myself, “Holy shit…I never asked what kind of tuna it was!”  I’m glad to say all of the public menus I can see of Shibuya at the MGM Grand are Bluefin free.  However, my heart sank when I, just now, saw the toro we were served at Yellowtail at the Bellagio appears to have come from the belly of a Bluefin tuna.  So, Akira Back, I’m calling you out, too!  Here’s a screenshot from the Bellagio’s website…

Yellowtail Menu on Bellagio.com as of 10/19/10

Yellowtail Menu on Bellagio.com as of 10/19/10

When the server placed the plate down for us, he just said, “Toro.”  That is the opportunity when I should have spoken up and said, “Toro from what?”  I fucked up.  I wasn’t thinking.

Let this be a lesson and a reminder for all of us to be responsible about what we put in our mouths.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium has put together an incredibly valuable Seafood Watch card for us to keep in our wallets so we are informed when we go out to these restaurants and to the grocery store.  You can download it for yourself at – http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/sfw_recommendations.aspx

There's Not Many Left (photo: smh.com.au)

There's Not Many Left (photo: smh.com.au)

I publicly apologize for my error in tasting.  I should know better to ask first, eat later.  Now what will Chef David Walzog, the people of Wynn Las Vegas and Chef Akira Back and the people of the Bellagio do?  I, for one, will certainly not eat in a restaurant that I know has Bluefin Tuna on the menu.  TLV Army, I call upon you to speak up to the people of the Lakeside Grill and Yellowtail to get the nearly-extinct Bluefin OFF the menu!

*****TLV UPDATE – 10/19/10, 1:35pm PST*****

Whoever does the tweeting for the official Wynn Las Vegas Twitter page (they sign as ^JB) has said that the menu sent to me was not a final menu, that Lakeside Grill has no intention of selling Bluefin Tuna or any other non-sustainable food item and that the Bluefin Tuna Carpaccio item was a mere placeholder.

I call bullshit.

If it was a place holder, then why not only have Bluefin Tuna Carpaccio but also have an additional description of Yuzu Soy Vinaigrette and Shaved Jalapeno?  Was Bluefin Tuna Carpaccio really the only thing to come to mind to see what the font looks like?  Why not write Peanut Butter and Jelly?  Why not Dead Baby Carpaccio?  I call bullshit on them, and I argue that if I didn’t publicly call them out in the post above, diners would have seen Bluefin Carpaccio on the menu come the opening day of November 1st.  Here is a screen shot of Direct Messages sent to me from the @WynnLasVegas account…

Direct Messages on Twitter from @WynnLasVegas to @TastingLasVegas on 10/19/10

Direct Messages on Twitter from @WynnLasVegas to @TastingLasVegas on 10/19/10

Admittedly, the prices are obvious placeholders, as every price on the menu was $20.  But, also on the menu given were specific items such as a Butternut Squash Agnolotti and Garlic Bread Meatballs that were both found in the press release originally sent used as teasers of what’s on the menu.  In the press release from representatives of the Lakeside Grill was the offer to see the menu, which obviously I took them up on.

I’ll take @WynnLasVegas’ word that Bluefin will not be on the menu, and to them I say buon fortuna.  I’m not going to call this as a win for Tasting Las Vegas, but I will call it as a win for the health of our oceans.  We shall see on November 1st what the Bluefin Tuna Carpaccio was a place holder for.  Bald Eagle?

—–
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

Whole Foods Market Adds Sustainable Seafood Rating System With Monterey Bay Aquarium

As you all well know, Tasting Las Vegas is usually not in the business of regurgitating press releases, but when one comes to my inbox that tickles my fancy and is of great importance, I’ll certainly shoot it right out to you.  This is great news that Whole Foods Market (The Official Grocery Store and hopefully-someday-sponsor of Tasting Las Vegas *cough cough*) has joined forces with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Blue Ocean Institute to not only empower their customers with knowledge of our environment, but also commit to eliminating the sale of endangered species in its entirety by Earth Day of 2013. And while Whole Foods is providing a great service, of course the best way is to empower yourself while you are at the grocery store or fish market of your choice.  You can download and print the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guide based off what part of the U.S. you’ll be eating in, or if you’re headed to RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay anytime soon, they have a stack of the Seafood Watch cards near the downstairs hostess stand.

You can follow Whole Foods (national) on Twitter at @WholeFoods
You can follow
Whole Foods (Las Vegas) on Twitter at @WFMLasVegas
You can follow
Whole Foods (Town Square) on Twitter at @WFMLVB
You can follow
Whole Foods (The District at GVR) on Twitter at @WFMHenderson
You can follow
Monterey Bay Aquarium on Twitter at @MontereyAq
You can follow
MBA’s Seafood Watch on Twitter at @SeafoodWatch

Good Groceries Sold Here (photo: twitter.com/wfmhenderson)

Good Groceries Sold Here (photo: twitter.com/wfmhenderson)

————————————————————————————

Without further adieu, here is the full press release from Whole Foods Market:

AUSTIN, Texas (Sept. 13, 2010) – Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFMI) today launches the first in-store color-coded sustainability rating program for wild-caught seafood and commits to phasing out all red-rated species by Earth Day 2013.

Partnering with Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium, Whole Foods Market is the first national grocer to provide a comprehensive, science-based sustainability rating system for wild-caught seafood. The system’s green, yellow and red ratings make it easy for shoppers to make informed choices at the seafood case.  Green or “best choice” ratings indicate a species is relatively abundant and is caught in environmentally-friendly ways; yellow or “good alternative” ratings mean some concerns exist with the species’ status or catch methods; and red or “avoid” ratings mean that for now the species is suffering from overfishing, or that current fishing methods harm other marine life or habitats. The new initiative expands upon the sustainable seafood program that Whole Foods Market has had with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) since 1999, and the new ratings apply only to non-MSC-certified fish.

“At the end of the day, it’s a team effort. Our customers, buyers, fishermen and fishery managers can all make smart decisions that move us in the direction of greater seafood sustainability,” said Carrie Brownstein, Whole Foods Market seafood quality standards coordinator. “The new color-coded rating system is a transparent way to provide sustainability status information. This new program, along with our promise to phase out red-rated species, deepens our commitment to having fully sustainable seafood departments.”

With the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reporting that 80 percent of fisheries are fully exploited, overfished, or depleted, Whole Foods Market’s is combining the passion of its customers, the commitment of its skilled seafood buyers, and the dedication of its many seafood suppliers to help reverse this trend.

“We’re delighted to help Whole Foods Market expand its commitment to offering seafood from sustainable sources,” said Michael Sutton, vice president of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, who oversees its Seafood Watch program,montereybayaquarium.org. “Whole Foods Market is a leader in the field, and its decision will have a real impact on seafood suppliers and other retailers. Its in-store education and commitment to phase out red-rated seafood will help raise awareness and improve fishing practices around the world.”

“Blue Ocean Institute applauds Whole Foods Market’s continued commitment to consumer education. Our rankings represent authoritative science that examines the key factors affecting the health of ocean populations,” said Dr. Carl Safina, MacArthur Fellow and founder of Blue Ocean Institute. “The rankings on the Whole Foods Market signs reflect the efforts of seafood science experts. Each also represents information consumers can understand and trust. This partnership will give seafood lovers the tools they need, where they need them—at the seafood counter—to make informed choices on behalf of ocean-friendly seafood.”

Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium are both highly respected for the strength of their science-based seafood programs, which evaluate species and fisheries on life history, abundance, habitat impacts, management practices and bycatch. Both organizations provide customers with information on the sustainability status of fisheries that are not certified by the MSC. Whole Foods Market continues its ongoing partnership with the MSC, the world’s leading certification body for sustainable wild-caught seafood. It uses a multi-stakeholder, international market-based approach to provide incentives for fisheries to address key issues such as overfishing and bycatch. The blue MSC ecolabel identifies wild-caught seafood products that are MSC-certified.

Whole Foods Market previously stopped selling especially vulnerable red-rated species such as non-MSC-certified Chilean sea bass, orange roughy, bluefin tuna, sharks, and marlins (with the exception of Hawaii-caught blue marlin, sold only in Hawaii stores). All swordfish and tuna from red-rated fisheries will be eliminated from seafood counters by Earth Day 2011. By Earth Day 2012, all other seafood from red-rated fisheries will be discontinued with the exception of Atlantic cod and sole, which will be sold through Earth Day 2013.

The company’s new wild-caught seafood rating program and partnerships will complement its existing farmed seafood standards, which remain the highest in the industry. Whole Foods Market requires third-party audits and traceability from hatchery to market, and they prohibit use of antibiotics, added growth hormones, added preservatives like sulfites and phosphates, genetically-modified seafood and land animal by-products in feed. Farmed seafood at Whole Foods Market carries the “Responsibly Farmed” logo to indicate that it meets these high standards.

—–
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

Vote! Not just for me, but for the health of our oceans!  You can vote once everyday from now through 09/30/10! Thanks!

Vote! Not just for me, but for the health of our oceans! You can vote once everyday from now through 09/30/10! Thanks!

Chef Rick Moonen and Critic Jay Rayner Go To The Mattresses Online!

There has been a virtual shit storm to erupt over douchebag critic, Jay Rayner, giving our beloved Chef Rick Moonen the mighty shaft on Top Chef Masters. The fracas started when Rayner questioned Moonen’s passion for sustainability when Rick used venison from New Zealand as part of his final meal. The reduction in score by Rayner cost Moonen the win in a very tight race, and more importantly it shorted our local heroes at Three Square, the charity which Moonen represented in the competition, $100,000.

Chef Rick Moonen with The Wife

Chef Rick Moonen with The Wife

Since the airing of this pre-recorded finale this past Wednesday, Rayner has gone on to try to justify his bullshit docking of Moonen’s score by a blog post of his own and now Rick is fighting back with something rarely used in such battles; Facts. In the Bravo TV sponsored blog post, Rayner admits that he marked down Moonen’s score due to what he saw as a sustainability fail, although this statement in his blog contradicts with reality:

I should say here and now that this is not why Marcus Samuelsson won. He won because his cooking was better, especially his duck dish with that fabulous foie gras ganache. But I can definitely tell you that Moonen’s craven attitude to environmental issues is why I scored him as I did.

Well, Mr. Rayner, if Rick lost by 1/2 a star, the smallest fraction of scoring on the show, then how is it that Marcus’ “cooking was better” if you also say that Moonen’s “craven attitude” is why you scored him as you did?  Douche.  Rayner contradicted his own thoughts once again when he responded to me on Twitter with this reply when I tweeted how @RMSeafood (Moonen) was crushing @jayrayner1 with facts:

@TastingLasVegas he seriously bloody isn’t you know. and the bottom line. I marked him down. He lost.

Douche. I mean… Bloody Douche.

Also, as viewers of Top Chef and Top Chef Masters know, Whole Foods Market is a major sponsor, and almost all of the grocery shopping for the competition is done at the local Whole Foods.  Is it not implied that when you shop at Whole Foods, you are purchasing ingredients that have already been held to the highest of standards and that a certain base level of “sustainability” is a given as soon as you walk in the door?  Is Jay Rayner putting sole responsibility of the assumed unsustainability of this venison on the chef and not the sponsored market from which it came, or is he also knocking the product of what might be the franchise’s biggest sponsor?

I asked Rayner on Twitter if there is a certain sustainable quality implied when you purchase food at Whole Foods to which he simply replied, “nope.” If anyone from Whole Foods Market is reading this, I’m sure you know how to reach Mr. Rayner for further comment.

The good thing is, is that Rick Moonen isn’t taking this lying down since now that the finale has aired and contractual gag orders have been lifted.  On both his Twitter and Facebook page, Moonen has been calling his fans to arms, loading them with facts and sending them to Rayner’s blog post and Twitter page to teach that asshole some manners.  Here are a few Status Updates from Chef Rick Moonen’s Facebook Fan Page:

New Zealand Venison is sustainably farmed outside on natural pasture without hormones steroids or antibiotics. And, it’s sea freighted not flown in to the US. Transport contributes just 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. One of the main sources of emissions is the fodder and grain grown to feed animals. So pasture fed animals contribute considerably less green house gas to the environment. If you agree with me and the facts please let Jay know! Leave a comment on his blog on my behalf!!

Here’s another directed to Rayner:

@jayrayner1 Here are the facts about transporting meat; CO2 emissions from shipping are around 8 grms per ton per km, from trucking 47 grams, and from airfreight 560g per ton per km. if you do the math there is less of a carbon footprint shipping 1kg of meat to New York from NZ (96gms) than trucking it from Texas (135gms).

There was also a great exit interview Moonen did with Lia Bulaong of Eater.com where Lia was the first to hip Moonen to Rayner’s little diddy on the Bravo blog.  In defending his choice to use the venison and Rayner’s subsequent reaction, Moonen had this to say in the interview:

There’s no one that’s been more consistent, with more integrity, doing it longer than I have. And because I chose that on a final competition? You know, a national… a national competition? Come on, dude! I’m not serving you sea bass with clubbed seal sauce! Ay ya yay ya yay.

That’s great. I can’t wait to respond. I want to respond, man. It’s on. It’s ON. I love this kind of banter. You know what it does? It’s good for everybody. It makes people think and really, at the end of it all, if you can’t poke fun at each other, make fun of each other, for the benefit of a message…

There’s a gilding of truth to what he has to say, but where do you draw the line? You see, I get sick—I’m on these panels all the time and you get these extremists: “Well, if it’s not a hundred percent, then you’re not real.” Excuse me! We’re going in a better direction every single day of our lives; if everyone did it half as much as I’m asking you to do it or as much as I’m doing it myself… It’s not like I’m just talking the talk—I’m walking the walk. And if everyone sort of just latched onto that mentality, things would be a hell of a lot better.

Although it sucks that our resident superstar didn’t get the title he deserves due to some bullshit misguided feelings, the actual winner, Marcus Samuelsson is a proven great chef, and his of-course worthy charity of the UNICEF Tap Project is more than deserving of the $100,000 boost.  In fact, on Wednesday, June 23, Rick Moonen will be hosting Marcus Samuelsson as a guest chef for a special meal to be held at RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay.  Marcus will do a live cooking demonstration and prepare a 5 course meal.  Tickets are priced at $125. To get more information, call RM Seafood at (702) 632-9300.

Thanks to all that Rick Moonen has done for this city, for Three Square and of course for the health of our oceans.  There is a reason why I write so much about him and what he does.  He’s good.

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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

Chef Rick Moonen Celebrates Re-Opening of RM Upstairs and Top Chef Masters Redemption!

So my first Tasting Las Vegas gig was a blast. I am often included in Mike’s dining adventures as “The Wife” but during this particular event, I was left on my own to tweet, hobnob and taste deliciousness as “The Husband” headed to work (editor’s note: I gots to pay tha’ billz).  My job as TLV’s “The Wife” typically includes letting Mike take a picture of my food, letting him taste my food (I usually make the better choice) and providing delightful conversation (I’m a firm believer that you can never have too many “That’s what she said” jokes).

Chef Rick Moonen and TLV's The Wife

Chef Rick Moonen and TLV's The Wife

The event: Re-Opening of RM Upstairs / Top Chef Masters Debut Party.  Shortly after 6p.m. on Thursday, April 21st, the restaurant filled with guests ready to cheer on Chef Rick Moonen’s appearance on Top Chef Masters. While enjoying a nice glass of merlot and getting my “Super Green” Sustainable Oyster cherry popped (delicious, by the way), Mike and I awaited words from the man of the hour and enjoyed a tasting of the Pork Belly Sushi. I do believe Mike is now convinced that sushi can be a very good thing.

Chef Moonen Speaks to the Crowd

Chef Moonen Speaks to the Crowd

Chef Moonen’s vibrant, captivating personality shone as he spoke to the crowd. Clearly passionate (as his fans already know) about what he represents in the food world as a top advocate for sustainable seafood, he spoke of how as a culture we’ve lost touch of where our food comes from and how he wants people to have a greater appreciation of where food comes from. He also spoke many kind words of his friends who had gathered to celebrate this evening, alongside mentioning his “Crazy Eddie Prices” for a 5-course Tasting Menu at the beautiful RM Upstairs ($65) (editor’s note: THE BEST DEAL IN TOWN!!!).

As Seen on TV!!!

As Seen on TV!!!

Mike abandoned me at this point (poor baby insisted he had to warm-up – that’s what you get for picking a brass instrument) so I settled into a seat in front of the big screen as the show was about to begin. Cheers for Chef Moonen echoed throughout the restaurant all throughout the show.  A collective “aghhhhh” was sighed when they cut to commercial break right before announcing the winner of the quick fire challenge.

I tell you what… I’ll take a room full of food lovers cheering on a favorite chef or restaurant over a boring old football game any day.  The crowd laughed at every humorous comment from Chef Ludo and Rick. I got my biggest kicks from the tweets on Twitter between the two of them (Lefebvre is @ChefLudo and Moonen is @RMSeafood) after the show. All in good fun…. all in good fun.

Pork Belly Sushi with Avocado

Pork Belly Sushi with Avocado

Ok, so for lack of transition… Let’s talk about the FOOD of the party!  Delicious little bites. I can’t remember the details of what was in anything, but I sure do remember how delicious everything was. My favorite item was the salmon skewer.  So fresh and light, with just a small scattering of delicious crunchy bits of some kind on the outside. A fun little dessert was a mini cone of Red Bull and Jagermeister Dippin’ Dots. I find both Red Bull and Jagermeister to be repulsive, but somehow our Top Chef and the talented team in the kitchen figured out how to make it work.

Red Bull and Jagermeister Dippin' Dots

Red Bull and Jagermeister Dippin' Dots

I managed to get my hands on the signature drink of the evening, The Gardener Martini (I believe made with Hendricks Gin, Lime and Basil),  about halfway though the Top Chef Masters viewing.  So yummy! So fresh and appropriately named.

The Gardner Martini at RM Seafood

The Gardner Martini at RM Seafood

The downstairs restaurant was full of people after the show filing in to have a crack at Chef Moonen’s Fish n’ Chips.  “The Husband” has already professed the downstairs Fish n’ Chips to be the best he’s ever had, but apparently the version Chef Moonen made during the competition is even better!  Today on Facebook, Chef Moonen said he was going to upgrade them to the TCM Fish n’ Chips; White Sable Fish in a Buttermilk Marinade with a Lemon Confit Tartar Sauce.  I’ll take two!  (editor’s note: I hope he doesn’t screw too much with the Anchor Steam Beer Batter, it was Beer Batter Perfection!)

Redemption!

Redemption!

Getting to spend this special moment with such a special guy like Rick Moonen was a highlight for me.  You can’t help but love the guy with him always bubbling with energy, enthusiasm and passion.  Chef Moonen deserves every accolade he gets and fellow Las Vegans should be proud that we have a great guy amongst us doing some pretty great things.  Congratulations to Chef Rick Moonen and the amazing staff at both floors of RM Seafood! I think this is just the beginning of a whole bunch of celebrating to come!

Rick Moonen with #1 Fan, Julie.  Awww!!!

Rick Moonen with #1 Fan, Julie. Awww!!!

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Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood

Mandalay Place in the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino
3930 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89119

(702) 632-9300

http://www.RMSeafood.com

Follow Chef Rick Moonen and RM Seafood on Twitter at @RMSeafood

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The Wife is a music teacher to munchkins and clay-throwing pottery nut who can quote every line from The Office and patiently waits for her lazy husband to someday clean the house.  The Wife has also been known to answer to the name, Kerry.

Follow The Wife on Twitter at @TLV_TheWife.

Monday Mise en Place: Las Vegas Review-Journal Hands Out Best of Las Vegas Awards

The Best of Las Vegas Logo

The Best of Las Vegas Logo

The Las Vegas Review-Journal released their 2010 Best of Las Vegas awards yesterday in the Sunday paper and sort of online at http://BestofLasVegas.com.  I say “sort of” for the online version because as of the writing of this post, many of the hotel restaurant awards are M.I.A.  Congratulations to the winners! (except Olive Garden and Applebee’s, you suck)

Slow Food Las Vegas Logo

Slow Food Las Vegas Logo

Tonight (March 29) is the night where James Beard Foundation Award Nominated Chef Rick Moonen and Slow Food Las Vegas pair up to offer a special dinner featuring tasty sea creatures from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “Super Green List.” This “Super Green Cuisine” Dinner will feature foods that are not only highly nutritious, but the least stressful on oceanic environments when gathered correctly.  The dinner is $125 and will have a guest speaker from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and include a signed copy of Chef Moonen’s book, “Fish Without A Doubt.” I believe there are just a few seats left remaining for tonight’s sure-to-be magnificent meal! Call RM Seafood at (702) 632-9300 to make a reservation.

Tasting Las Vegas Logo

Tasting Las Vegas Logo

Over this past week, our Twitter family has expanded by two! Michael is now tweeting on his own at @TLV_Michael, so please direct all hate mail to that account.  Also, you know her as The Wife, and she will be occasionally adding her two cents at @TLV_TheWife.  Yours truly will be in charge of the @TastingLasVegas account which will have general Tasting Las Vegas news and other random bits from me.  Thanks for joining us on Twitter and getting the word out about us, as we love getting to tweet with you!

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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 him on Twitter at @MikeDobranski.

Follow Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Monday Mise en Place: 2010 James Beard Award Finalists Have Been Announced

James Beard Award

James Beard Award

The 2010 James Beard Awards were whittled down to the Finalists today from the Semifinals that were reported earlier on Tasting Las Vegas.  Congratulations to the following nominees with ties to Las Vegas:

Outstanding Restaurateur:

  • Richard Melman, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (El Segundo Sol, Eiffel Tower Restaurant, Maggiano’s Little Italy, Mon Ami Gabi & Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab)

Outstanding Pastry Chef:

  • Kamel Guechida, Jöel Robuchon (MGM Grand)

Outstanding Service:

  • Jöel Robuchon (MGM Grand)

Best Chef: Southwest:

  • Saipin Chutima, Lotus of Siam
  • Claude le Tohic, Jöel Robuchon (MGM Grand)
  • Rick Moonen, RM Seafood (Mandalay Bay)

To see all of the 2010 James Beard Award Nominees, visit here.  Congratulations again to everyone!  Best wishes for when the awards are announced on May 3, 2010 from New York City’s Avery Fisher Hall!

Rick Moonen's Blog

Rick Moonen's Blog

Speaking of (now James Beard Award Nominated) Chef Rick Moonen, he has started up a blog of his own recently called Rick’s Catch of the Day.  The blog will be about his passions; food, cooking and sustainability.  I’m sure once Top Chef Masters 2 gets rolling on April 7, there will be plenty of behind the scenes commentary to go along with the show.  Check it out at http://chefrickmoonen.blogspot.com.

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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 him on Twitter at @MikeDobranski.

Follow Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas