The third time’s a charm for Ultimo: A Weekend of Excellence at the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Venetian and Palazzo resorts in Las Vegas on December 17 through 20. The now four-day event will celebrate all that is luxurious about cuisine and wine with creative, over-the-top guest-chef dinners. Instead of seminars and demonstrations, this year, the event’s organizers have outdone themselves by integrating the U.S. qualifier for the biannual Bocuse d’Or culinary competition into the festivities and have allowed the themes of Earth, Water, Air and Fire to guide their efforts in creating the most elemental Ultimo itinerary yet.
What to do
Ultimo will kick off bright and early on December 17 with a 9 a.m. start time for the qualifier of the Bocuse d’Or, the world’s most prestigious culinary competition for young talented chefs. “Ment‘ors” Daniel Boulud (DB Brasserie), Thomas Keller (Bouchon) and Jérôme Bocuse — son of the event’s namesake, Paul Bocuse — will be on hand as one team will be selected to represent America in the 2017 event in Lyon, France. Team USA’s silver in the 2015 competition makes this selection even more important. Competing this year are Gerald Ford (executive sous chef, Westchester Country Club), Brian Lockwood (chef de cuisine, The NoMad Hotel), Angus McIntosh (sous chef, Five-Star The Broadmoor) and Mathew Peters (executive sous chef, Per Se). During the nearly five-hour competition, each chef will make a meat platter showcasing Snake River Farms’ kurobuta pork and a fish dish featuring the Norwegian Seafood Council’s fjord trout.
Following that excitement, chefs Jérôme Bocuse, Traci Des Jardins, Josiah Citrin and Diane Yang will prepare an exquisite celebration gala riffing on the theme of Earth with an evening of Urbani truffles and wild game in the Venezia Colonnade. A portion of proceeds will benefit the programs of Ment’or, including the Young Chef Competitions and Grant Program.
Air is the central theme of the third-annual, $1,000-per-plate Grand Banquet: Dinner in the Clouds on December 18. Held in the Grand Colonnade, the event that chef Mario Batali called “the grandest meal ever served in Las Vegas” will begin with a Krug Champagne and Petrossian caviar reception. The meal prepared by chefs Thomas Keller, Philip Tessier, Shaun Hergatt and Ming Tsai will then be served on a spectacular single glass table running down the length of the frescoed and marble corridor while guests sit on clear acrylic chairs for a mid-air effect. Southern Wine & Spirits will provide the beverages, and a portion of proceeds will also benefit Ment’or.
While all 50 “floating” seats for the December 19 Water luncheon on the Grand Canal are sold out, you can still score a spot at Fire: A Mastery of Cooking Over Open Flame that evening. The night begins with Krug Champagne outside the Doge’s Palace, where chefs will cook an entire pig, whole fish and large slabs of beef. Follow them into the private Paiza Club for the composed wine-pairing dinner by Olivier Dubreuil, executive chef of The Venetian and The Palazzo, and Dario Cecchini, Chianti’s famed “Butcher of Panzano.”
Bringing a most delicious weekend full circle — and bringing you back to Earth — the Truffle Farewell Brunch at Four-Star Delmonico Steakhouse puts a distinctly Italian spin on the afternoon session with Urbani truffles, organic farm-fresh eggs, premium beef, house-cured salmon and even more Krug Champagne.
Where to stay
There’s no shortage of Four- and Five-Star resorts on the world-famous Vegas Strip. But with the Four-Star Venetian and Palazzo serving as the Ultimo HQ, there’s really no reason to leave their luxurious suites — besides, they’re roughly twice the size of the average Las Vegas hotel room and include Roman tubs and sunken living rooms. Mention promo code “Ultimo” during booking to access a special block of suites as well as receive a welcome bottle of Krug Champagne and other culinary goodies. After settling, you may formally begin enjoying what the properties’ vice president of food and beverage Sebastien Silvestri has called “the most spectacular gathering of world-renowned chefs in Las Vegas.”