by E.C. Gladstone
While most visitors to Las Vegas Hotels don’t expect to learn much more than how to play craps or blackjack, they now have the chance to learn the tricks of the culinary trade from Sin City’s finest master chefs . At their signature Las Vegas restaurants within some of the most spectacular Las Vegas hotels, several master chefs are now offering creative cooking and dining opportunities, including cook-then-eat classes. As if the Vegas dining experience wasn’t fabulous enough, now it’s even more deliciously memorable than the extra inches to your waistline.
In the Palms at Nove Italiano–my favorite Italian restaurant in Vegas (see my post on Las Vegas’ Top 10 Italian Restaurants)–Executive Chef Geno Bernardo and his top chefs invite a small group into the kitchen on the last Saturday of every month. Bernardo demonstrates essentials like pressing pasta by hand, grinding sausage, and making ragu sauce, then invites his guests to an elegant five-course lunch of each recipe with wines to match. $75 per person.
Every few weeks, Scott Linquist, corporate chef of all Dos Caminos restaurants, visits the Las Vegas Dos Caminos in the Palazzo to conduct an intimate cooking demonstration in the rear of the dining room. Linquist manages to make it look easy and emphasizes ingredients as much as technique (much of which is surprisingly French-inspired). With assistance from his pastry chef, mixologists, and other staffers, he demonstrates varying bebidas, antojitos, platas y postres, and guests also get to make his famous guacamole recipe. The price includes an autographed copy of Linquist’s cookbook, and of course, a fantastic lunch. Next classes scheduled for May 8 and 9, $65 per person.
On the next-to-last Thursday of every month at Hachi in Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa, Executive Chef Linda Rodriguez–the first woman to train under legendary chef Nobu Matsuhisa—gives hands-on instruction on how to roll sushi…and then, of course, enjoy it! Husband and Chef de Cuisine Martin Swift and Head Sushi Chef Fernando Luna also participate. Next classes on April 22 and May 20, $85 per person.
Running several times daily Thursdays through Sundays, veteran educational chef Tina Martini hosts broadcast-quality cooking demonstrations in an intimate room adjacent to M Resort Spa Casino’s Studio B buffet. With a weekly rotating recipe schedule, Martini not only shares delicious recipes, but includes valuable techniques and surprising nutrition and health information. The price includes reserved seating at the buffet afterward–one of the best in town. $39.95-59.95 per person, depending on show time.
All of the above considered, if I had to recommend one event for which starchef fans and amateur chefs should commit, it’s Bon Appetit’s Uncork’d festival on Mother’s Day weekend. In addition to many Star Chef celebratory meals, the weekend includes interactive events like hands-on sushi demonstrations with Yellowtail Executive Chef Akira Back (Bellagio, May 7, $95), the All-Star Interactive Luncheon with the chance to cook lunch with Chefs Paul Bartolotta, Frédéric Robert, Alex Stratta, and David Walzog (Encore at Wynn, May 8, $195) and of course the Grand Tasting, where you can rub shoulders with more famous chefs in one spot than stars at the Oscars, all while eating as much amazing food! (Caesars Palace, May 7, $175).
Insider Tip: The Encore at Wynn shopping promenade features a store devoted to ingredients, cookware and souvenirs from all its Star Chef restaurants. Check it out!
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Veteran entertainment and travel writer E. C. Gladstone writes regularly on top Strip entertainers, restauranteurs, moguls and behind-the-scenes players for many local and national publications and Web sites. Like many Las Vegans, he sleeps only when absolutely necessary.