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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

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TLV's Tweets Of The Week: 11/08/10 - 11/14/10

I have the pleasure of following some pretty damn funny people on Twitter.  Submitted to you in this series are the top tweets I read last week.  Some have to deal with food, some don’t, but all of them kick ass in 140 characters or less. Behold, TLV’s Tweets Of The Week….

November 8

@MJMcKean – Nice NYT piece on Courtney Love; seems like she’s getting her shit together, rubbing it in her hair, and running naked into traffic.

November 9

@fukuburger – Wish I had Angry Birds to throw at some dumb-asses today.

November 10

@Ed_Rudisell – It wasnt wrapped in a bulletproof vest, was it? RT @andrewzimmern Doorbell just rang. Old buddy sent me smoked fish

@willmckinley – Pictures of dead bodies on cigarette packs? What’s next? Diabetic Jazzy-riders on Little Debbie boxes?

@Jesus_M_Christ – The problem with born again Christians is that they’re even worse the second time around.

@MistressDrea - All that is ever in my “recommended for you” section on Amazon is stripper heels and cookbooks.#Awesome!

November 11

@UNLVgirl – In honor of Veteran’s Day, I’ll try & remember the names of all the military guys I’ve hooked up with. Might take a while. #lovemeninuniform

—–
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

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The Weekly Bad Picture Of Good Food: Indian Spiced Kobe Short Ribs From CUT By Wolfgang Puck

George Carlin once said, “The only good thing ever to come out of religion was the music.” George Carlin was a very wise man. Millions upon millions of people have died because of the way they answered “The God Question.”  Wars continue to be waged, lives continue to be shattered.  Some people have been forced from their homeland because of their religious beliefs, some people have been persecuted because of their religious beliefs and some have been forced to wear ridiculous underwear because of their religious beliefs. However, what might be one of the most egregious examples of the downside of religion is the regretful lack of beef dishes in Indian cuisine.  Thankfully, the fine folks at CUT have given the world something really say “Holy Cow” about! Unfortunately, low light and the iPhone go together like Jesus and a Steinway, thus making the Indian Spiced Kobe Short Ribs from CUT by Wolfgang Puck at the Palazzo resort this week’s Weekly Bad Picture Of Good Food.

Indian Spiced Kobe Short Ribs From CUT by Wolfgang Puck

Indian Spiced Kobe Short Ribs From CUT by Wolfgang Puck

—–

CUT by Wolfgang Puck

The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino
3325 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109

(702) 607-6300

http://www.wolfgangpuck.com/restaurants/fine-dining/3801

—–
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

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'Cooking Well Is First': An Essay That Went Nowhere

So a while back, you may recall, I entered this contest Anthony Bourdain and the publishers of his latest book, ‘Medium Raw,’ put on.  Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Medium Raw’ Challenge was a contest that involved writing a 500-word essay on “what it means to cook well.”  The winner of the contest would receive $10,000 and be published in the paperback edition of ‘Medium Raw.’ Fame, fortune and a significant life change.  Other than that, nothing much.

Another Book I Won't Be In

Another Book I Won't Be In

Well…I lost.  I didn’t even get in the final 10.  The publishers picked their favorite 10 (out of what would be 1,949 entries), then Bourdain himself was to pick the big winner.  Here’s a link to the actual winner, ‘Late Nights’ by Michael P.

Even though the result wasn’t what I was looking for, I’m still proud of, and stand behind, what I wrote.  I know that’s what most losers say, but I say it honestly.  But, far beyond the personal pride of what I wrote, words can’t describe how grateful I am for the extraordinary amount of support I received throughout the voting process.  Many of you went above and beyond to get the word out, and I’m sure I’ll never be able to express the appreciation I have to each person individually the way that I wish I could.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  It really meant the world to me.

Looking back, in the vein of hindsight being 20/20, perhaps I should have taken the essay way out.  I probably should have went so far off topic, only to bring it back home at the last possible second so I could stand out.  It takes some weird shit to stand out among 1,949 essays, I suppose.  Oh well.  No regrets.

I don’t know if the people of ‘Medium Raw’ will be taking down the other essays or closing down the website, so I’ve decided to publish my entry, as is, on TastingLasVegas.com.

Here’s my loser of an essay, ‘Cooking Well Is First’:

The winding path to First Food and Bar is a path I’ve traveled many times over the last year.  Unlike most of the restaurants in Las Vegas, you aren’t greeted with some bullshit facade copied from a distant land or some unknown designer’s obnoxious wet dream turned reality. At First Food and Bar, you’re greeted with floor-to-ceiling windows into the kitchen; the crew of tatted up, bandana-wearing misfits cooking their asses off, working a well-deserved center stage performance.

As I gaze across the always being tweaked menu, one of our usual servers, Cesar, comes to the table, reaching for a handshake.  He asks, “Dude, you try the new chicken fingers yet?”  With eyes lighting up as I say no, Cesar responds, “Oh damn! I’m bringing you out an order!”

They come to the table artfully suspended in the air via some little metal widget as if they were being staged for a Museum of Modern Art that Vegas doesn’t have.  With my first bite of the succulent, marinated in buttermilk ranch chicken breast, I find myself sitting at my old kitchen table.  I’m 14 years old. My Mom is alive and working her magic at the stove, my Dad just got home from work.  “Mikey’s Chicken,” it was called at my house growing up as it was my favorite thing my Mom made.  I could eat that shit by the truckload.  Sophisticated craftsmanship, yet with memory-flooding familiarity. In a fucking chicken finger. Who knew?

Next up were the new Gyros Eggrolls. One bite of these well-crafted nuggets and I’m transported once again; this time to a Korean joint across town that First’s Executive Chef, Sam DeMarco, took me and The Wife to a few weeks back.  Sammy was telling us about a recent trip to Greece, how their Ouzo tasted different than our Ouzo; how the crisp flavors, vibrant colors and fresh ingredients sung to his heart.  Here’s that song, now in Las Vegas. On this plate.

With us already basking in the glow from a multiple foodgasm outing, Sous Chef Rob comes to the table.  He hips us to a new dessert, a Key Lime Tart that First’s Pastry Chef, Craig, knocks out of the park.  You know someone has passion for cooking when they get fired up over Key Lime Tarts.  Chef Rob went on at length how Key Limes are only in season for two months and this is the real deal, none of that canned or powdered bullshit.  Believe me, you could taste it.  No bullshit.

The crew at First Food and Bar cooks with pride, passion and care.  They draw from their experiences, incessantly strive to be better and are dedicated to using only the finest ingredients available.  They wear their pride on their sleeve, out in the open for all the world to see.  Their cooking transports you to the best moments of your life and creates new best moments all at the same time.

The crew at First Food and Bar cooks well.

—–
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

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Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast, Ep. 06 - John Simmons, Chef / Owner of Firefly

This week on Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast, The Wife goes into ballbreaking overdrive as we talk about, and play, a portion of our recent chat with Chef Fabio Viviani of Top Chef fame at a Food & Wine All-Star Weekend event.  We also dish about our Recent Eats and reveal Five Appetizers In Las Vegas That Can’t Be Missed.  I then sit down with Chef John Simmons, Chef / Owner of Firefly as he talks about the culture of tapas and some of the dark days of Firefly’s struggling beginnings.  Then The Wife makes her 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 06!

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

Chef / Owner of Firefly, John Simmons

Chef / Owner of Firefly, John Simmons

Please check out our sponsor because they are made of awesome!

Check out the wonders of Vegas Mate at http://VegasMate.com

Follow Vegas Mate on Twitter at @vegasmate

Joints We Talked About:

  • Firefly
  • Naked City Pizza Shop
  • Jasmine
  • Tender
  • Nora’s Italian Cuisine
  • First Food and Bar
  • The Pasta Shop
  • Sage
  • Wazuzu
  • Table 34
  • Caribbean Cooker / Ernie’s
  • Ethel M. Chocolates
  • Wolfgang Puck’s CUT

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

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

Follow Conan O’Brien on Twitter at @ConanOBrien

Follow Chef Fabio Viviani on Twitter at @fabioviviani

Chef Fabio Viviani’s Firenze Osteria in Moorpark, CA

Follow the Firefly on Twitter at @FireflyLV

The Firefly’s website is at http://FireflyLV.com

Find out when Chef Jet Tila’s Drunken Noodles play the small screen again here

My take on Jet Tila’s Drunken Noodles is here

Follow Chef Jet Tila on Twitter at @jettila

Follow Ethel M. Chocolates on Twitter at @EthelMChocolates

Check out the Award Winning, Award Nominated Average Betty at http://averagebetty.com

Follow Average Betty on Twitter at @averagebetty

Sara’s awesome interview and cooking demo with Chef Paul Bartolotta is here

—–
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

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Monday Mise en Place: Five French Culinary Masters To Cook For James Beard

Me and J-Ro

Me and J-Ro

It’s another day and another fundraiser for the James Beard Foundation.  This one isn’t even in Las Vegas, but it involves five guys with joints here in town, so I thought I’d give it a mention.  You may have heard of them; Alain Ducasse, Francois Payard, Joël Robuchon, Guy Savoy and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.  I guess all the good cooks were busy!  Wow, this ridiculous lineup of legendary talent will cook a multi-course meal for Culinary Liasons, the James Beard Foundations 2010 Gala dinner and silent auction.  The dinner will take place on November 10th in the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City. It probably won’t suck.

Continue reading Monday Mise en Place: Five French Culinary Masters To Cook For James Beard

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TLV's Tweets Of The Week: 11/01/10 - 11/07/10

I have the pleasure of following some pretty damn funny people on Twitter.  Submitted to you in this series are the top tweets I read last week.  Some have to deal with food, some don’t, but all of them kick ass in 140 characters or less. Behold, TLV’s Tweets Of The Week….

November 3

@migroddy – This show’s concept was brought to you by a dyslexic maggot fattened on Stilton, digested 4X by a cow and expelled in it’s flatulence.

@TLV_TheWife – OMG! I just got hit by a foot fetish spambot. I don’t hate very many things more than I hate feet… maybe just Hitler and celery.

November 5

@Alex_Acuna – Ohh the McIrony…The Vegan Apostle on the cover of @lasvegasweekly with a McRib ad-wrap.http://plixi.com/p/55168305

November 6

@ConanOBrien - 48 hours until a show that will either blow up the paradigm of TV as we know it, or nestle comfortably among “Yes, Dear” reruns.

November 7

@DittoToo – Wow, an actual fight broke out over Bachi Burger @desertcompanion

@tmwrnj – Watching Twilight to prepare for this WA piece and thinking how much luckier I am than @tastinglasvegas to have been to Forks

—–
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

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The Weekly Bad Picture Of Good Food: Esaan Sausage From Nittaya's Secret Kitchen

Some things in life were meant to be together, such as; Beer and pretzels, Sonny and Cher, or Charlie Sheen, Hookers and Cocaine.  These are the kind of pairings that were made for each other.  The kind of pairings when one element is missing, the other greatly suffers.  Then there are the combinations that at first glance looks like a disaster waiting to happen, yet somehow they work. For instance,  Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra? The Wife married to the douchebag she’s married to? Lemongrass, Thai Basil and Ginger in a Pork Sausage?  Ok…so maybe the third one ain’t so tough to picture after all. But, one thing for sure is that the iPhone and dim light will never work together, thus making the Esaan Sausage from Nittaya’s Secret Kitchen this week’s Weekly Bad Picture Of Good Food.

Esaan Sausage from Nittaya's Secret Kitchen

Esaan Sausage from Nittaya's Secret Kitchen

—–

Nittaya’s Secret Kitchen

2110 N. Rampart Blvd. #110
Las Vegas, NV 89128

(702) 360-8885

http://NittayasSecretKitchen.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

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Dish Spotlight: World Famous Spinach Salad From Nittaya's Secret Kitchen

We highlighted this dish on this week’s Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast, but I felt that it certainly deserves an extra mention.  As I said before, most times when you see something called “World Famous” on a menu it usually means that it is going to be a massive disappointment if not totally suck outright.  When we asked our lovely server, Poom, if she had any recommendations, the World Famous Spinach Salad practically leapt from her mouth.

I figured why not, as the World Famous Spinach Salad could be yours for the low low price of $9, so even if it fell short of the as-advertised “World Famous” status, I could find out for only $9.  I’m very pleased to report that it was the best nine bucks we spent in a long, long while.  Amazing, ridiculous, fabulous, stupendous….these are all words that can justifiably describe this dish.

A very interesting take on the standard Larb Gai Salad found at most of your neighborhood Thai restaurants, the World Famous Spinach Salad featured Baby Spinach leaves that were individually tempura-fried so that they were stiff yet remarkably light (that’s what she…wants?).  Along side was the cooked-then-chilled ground up chicken and in a dressing that was a party in your mouth.  A good party.  The kind of party where everyone gets laid.  The kind of party we’re going to have for the First Official Tasting Las Vegas: The Tweetup!

The dressing was this magnificent sweet, spicy, sour, tangy cocktail of love that tasted of lime juice, some kind of vinegar, Kaffir lime, Thai basil, Thai chili peppers and a whole bunch more.  It was outstanding, and certainly deservedly World Famous.  The kind of dish that will have to make Nittaya’s Secrect Kitchen change their name to the Not-So-Secret Kitchen.  It’s tasty.

World Famous Spinach Salad From Nittaya's Secret Kitchen

World Famous Spinach Salad From Nittaya's Secret Kitchen

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Nittaya’s Secret Kitchen

2110 N. Rampart Blvd. #110
Las Vegas, NV 89128

(702) 360-8885

http://NittayasSecretKitchen.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

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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

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