Getting tickets to Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit is half the battle, and one that is likely fought in a virtual scramble for the chance to cross paths with the likes of chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Julian Serrano and Guy Savoy. The ninth annual event pops its cork with a VIP champagne sabering at Serrano’s new restaurant, Lago, on April 23 in Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Bellagio. What follows in Sin City are four days and nights — 23 events in all — that tear down the wall between kitchen and dining room to give aficionados and would-be culinarians unrivaled access to the luminaries of cuisine. Here’s how to take a bite out of Uncork’d.
What to Eat
It would be too easy to simply say, “everything.” At Uncork’d there are enough events to satisfy every palate and budget. For just a taste, party under the stars with the stars at The Grand Tasting (April 24), which brings together all the celebrity-chef participants and their restaurants in one place — and what a place! At the Garden of the Gods pool complex at Caesars Palace, you can wander from booth to booth sampling bite-size versions of the chefs’ signature dishes while enjoying sponsored beer, wine and cocktails. Or, go deeper with specialty dinners. If you’re a lover of reality-TV food shows, you’ll have overlapping opportunities to hang with Gordon Ramsay at his In Hell’s Kitchen Dinner (April 25) or see what it takes to cook your way to the top at A Taste of Bravo’s Best New Restaurant (April 25), a pop-up dinner, both at Caesars. Also check out the new and expanded Master Series, which now includes brunch, such as the one with Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger at Border Grill (April 25) in addition to dinners, like that with Emeril Lagasse at his New Orleans Fish House (April 23). And if you have a sweet tooth, you won’t want to miss whatever pastry chef Kamel Guechida has planned for The Chefs of Wolfgang Puck lunch (April 24) at Spago.
What to Drink
As much as Uncork’d is a food festival, libations also play a very important role. Right off the bat, the weekend kicks off with a dessert-first approach at Decadent Delights (April 23), a wine-and-chocolate pairing with master chocolatier François Payard. That night, pick your poison: Beef & Bourbon with the Sherry brothers at Old Homestead or Tequila and Tacos with TV’s Too Hot Tamales, Milliken and Feniger. If you didn’t get enough at The Grand Tasting, slake your thirst at Top It Off, the Grand Tasting after-party. Keep the party going with a four-course Master Series late lunch by Guy Savoy (April 25) paired with Krug’s Grande Cuvée, Krug Rosé and 2000 vintage, among others. Or, if you prefer still wines, sip on California chards and pinots at A Tasting of Balance (April 25), a moderated panel and tasting at Jasmine. Keep the wining and dining going while you discover how to pair vinos with chef Ho Chee Boon’s Creative Cantonese & Wine cuisine at Hakkasan (April 25). And finally — if you can still stand — wash it all down with a cold frosty brew paired with whole roasted delights of the air, land and sea at Beer and the Beast (April 26).
Where to Stay
The Weekend Extravagance Package at MGM Grand is a VIP experience featuring a three-night stay in the Five-Star Skylofts at MGM Grand and a rare chance to attend these sold-out Vegas Uncork’d events: Emeril Lagasse’s Master Series Dinner; Emeril’s poolside New Orleans Seafood Extravaganza; and the Creative Cantonese & Wine dinner at Hakkasan. The promotion also includes complimentary VIP entry to Hakkasan Nightclub; a $200 credit to the MGM Grand Spa and Cristophe Salon; access to the private Skylofts lounge and much more. To reserve this deal, call 1-877-646-5638. Also available is the Grand Toast Package by Caesars Palace, the home to Four-Star The Laurel Collection by Caesars Palace. Enjoy a two-night (minimum) stay plus a $75 resort food and drink credit and VIP access to the Grand Toast, a VIP pre-party on the Rao’s patio prior to the Grand Tasting. Call 1-888-342-7724 to reserve.
When to Learn
If you wish it to be, Vegas Uncork’d is so much more than just dining and drinking. The event also offers access to world-renowned chef demonstrations and instruction. At the aforementioned Master Series brunch event with Milliken and Feniger, you will get the recipes to take home, while François Payard gives a behind-the-scenes look at the makings of French desserts at Pastry Savvy (April 24). And finally, step into the role of bartender and get a chance to have your original cocktail on the menu at Four-Star Aria Resort & Casino at Mix Master: Pour Like a Pro (April 25), a hands-on cocktail seminar and competition hosted by Aria mixologist Craig Schoettler.