Monthly Archives: May 2009

Robb Report’s Best of the Best Restaurants 2009

Luce restaurant

Robb Report – the Global Luxury resource has released it's annual Best of the Best Restaurants for 2009. The French reigned with four out of the seven restaurant's kitchens being run by French chefs (Boulud, Ducasse, Gras and Crenn) while the other three are Americans (Chang, Mina, Trotter). Only one female chef made it on the coveted list (Crenn), who we should also mention was named Esquire's chef of the year 2008. Six out of the seven properties are located in North America while only one (Maison Boulud) is located overseas in China.

Congratulations to the following seven restaurants that made the cut:

Charlie Trotter's, Restaurant Charlie – Las Vegas, Nevada

David Chang's Momofuku Ko – New York, New York

Alain Ducasse's Adour at St. Regis– Washington, D.C.

Laurent Gras' L20 – Chicago, Illinois

Dominique Crenn's Luce (pictured above) – San Francisco, California

Michael Mina's XIV  – Los Angeles, California

Daniel Boulud's Maison Boulud – Beijing, China

See the complete list with full details and descriptions here

Read more

Celebrity Chef Blackjack Tournament – Vegas Uncork’d

 Vegas Uncork'd

Wynn/Encore's European pool and patio served as the backdrop of the Celebrity Chef Blackjack Tournament during Bon Appetit's Vegas Uncork'd weekend. Having just got back from Monte Carlo a few weeks prior, the event and ambiance brought me back to drinking champagne at Jimmy'z and enjoying the nightlife of the French Riviera. Where this event had Monaco beat, was the roster of players at the blackjack table. The chefs competing for cash prizes totaling $10,000 included the likes of Daniel Boulud, Tom Colicchio, Francois Payard, Jet Tila, Joel Robuchon, David Walzog, Bobby Flay, Laurent Tourondel and many other of Vegas' top chefs.

Daniel Boulud

Daniel Boulud at the Blackjack Table

Jet Tila, Amy Rossetti, David Walzog

David Walzog, Amy Rossetti, Jet Tila

Mika takeuchi-hugh garvey-andrew knowlton

with Bon Appetit's Andrew Knowlton and Hugh Garvey

Paul Bartolotta, Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio and winner Paul Bartolotta

In the end, it was Paul Bartolotta who ended up winning it all- for a second year in a row! It was definitely chef Bartolotta's winning week. First he won the James Beard award for Best Chef Southwest on Monday, then he ended up being crowned Celebrity Chef Blackjack king during the Vegas Uncork'd weekend.



One thing's for certain – there were definitely no losers at this blackjack tournament. Throughout the event, we were treated to a premium open bar which included Patron Spirits, and flutes of Perrier Jouet. And in typical French Riviera fashion, many of the attendees continued the evening at the neighboring XS, Encore's swanky nightclub. XS provided the perfect ending to another fabulous day of Vegas Uncork'd with the illuminating palm trees, crystal blue pool, and the most amazing weather one could ask for. I definitely got my Cote d'Azur fix that evening – and I didn't even need my passport.

Read more

Ultimate All-Star Interactive Luncheon – Vegas Uncork’d


Daniel Boulud, Alessandro Stratta, Paul Bartolotta

Have you ever desired to create an haute cuisine dish alongside a Michelin starred chef? How about assist a second course beside a James Beard award winning chef? If your answer is yes, where do I sign up, then the Ultimate All-Star Interactive Luncheon, a part of the Vegas Uncork'd weekend presented by Bon Appetit was definitely the event for you. If you missed it this year, don't worry. Vegas Uncork'd isn't going away. Just make sure to mark your calendars for next year's event and purchase tickets early. This is a hot ticket that sells out fast!


When you combine the culinary forces of Bon Appetit and the Wynn/Encore, have no doubt that the end result will be an A-List edible event, second to none. Hosted by Bon Appetit's Barbara Fairchild, Hugh Garvey, Andrew Knowlton and Alan Richman, this five course luncheon featuring the Wynn/Encore's gastronomic dream team was an action packed 2 1/2 hour dream lunch. Guests from each table had the luxury of cooking alongside the top chefs in Vegas equipped with your own Boulud, Bartolotta, Stratta personally signed apron. We then got to indulge in our amazing five course meal paired with world class wine pairings by Nevada's Southern Wine & Spirits.

wes holton daniel boulud

Chef Wes Holton and I looking serious about our squab 🙂

This luncheon was exactly what it was titled- All Star, Interactive and definitely Ultimate. Not intimidating at all, the chefs were completely one with the guests and we all felt as if we were part of the afternoon's FEASTivities. I chose to assist with the Daniel Boulud fourth course which I prepared with Executive Chef Wes Holton. We all had such a blast at this event. It's just too bad we have to wait another year for the next one. The good news is that all these chef's restaurants at the Wynn are open 24/7 365 days of the year for all of us to enjoy at any time. I definitely think a trip back to Vegas is in my immediate future.

The Ultimate All-Star Interactive Luncheon included:
Allessandro stratta
Allesandro Stratta, Alex
Chilled Lobster with Spring Vegetable Crudites and Lemon Vinaigrette
Terlano, Sauvignon Blanc, Quarz, Alto Adige, Italy 2007

Paul bartolotta scallops

Paul Bartolotta, Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare

Cappesante Dorate con Porcini "Mari e Monte"
Sauteed Sea Scallops with Porcini Mushrooms
Planeta Cometa, Sicilia, Italy 2007

Marc Poidevin Gnocchi
Marc Poidevin, Switch
Spring Gnocchi with Peas and Prosciutto
Vincent Girardin, Rully, Vieilles Cignes, Burgundy, France 2006

Daniel Boulud Wes Holton Squab
Daniel Boulud, Daniel Boulud Brasserie (which I helped make :))
Marinated Squab Breast, Carmelized Japanese Eggplant
Couscous with Fresh Mint and Pistachios
M, Chapoutier, Chateauneur-du-Pape, La Bernardine, Rhone, France 2005

Frederic robert

Frederic Robert, Executive Pastry Chef, Wynn/Encore
Strawberry Vacherin

Frederic robert

Frederic Robert, Executive Pastry Chef, Wynn/Encore
Crispy Chocolate Dome
Domaines Schlumberger, Gewurztraminer, Vendanges Tardives,
Cuvee Christine, Alsace, France 2000

Read more

GALA DINNER at Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit


With a backdrop setting on an elegant outdoor patio at the Bellagio Hotel, the Gala Dinner started off with a meet and greet reception with wine and passed hors d’oeuvres by chef’s Todd English and Isaac Carter of English’s Olives restaurant. The savory offerings included Lobster Salad on Blueberry French Toast, Frog Leg Lollipops, Melon and Prosciutto, and Artichoke and Goat Cheese “Drum Sticks” paired with Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Cloudline Pinot Noir or Piper Heidsieck “Cuvee Brut” Champagne. Guests mingled with the celebrated chefs of the evening who were beside large tables which featured their hand picked chosen products for the evening.

Joel-robuchon, mika-takeuchi,alain-ducasse

w/ Joel Robuchon and Alain Ducasse


After the cocktail reception, we all headed into the adjoining ballroom which was decorated with whimsical floral arrangements and elegantly adorned large round tables. The event was hosted by Bon Appetit Editor-in-Chief Barbara Fairchild and Special Correspondent Alan Richman who made a dynamic duo on stage keeping the audience entertained while also introducing the chefs on stage to explain their presented dishes. As if the pressure in the kitchen for these perfectionist chefs weren’t enough, seated in the dining room were French legend’s Joel Robuchon and Alain Ducasse – two chefs who need no introduction.

Akira Black Yellowtail

Akira Back’s Japanese Snapper

Each of the six courses were prepared by various chefs of the Bellagio Hotel, and boy were we in for a treat. Following Todd English’s Hors d’oeuvres, was a first course by Akira Back of Yellowtail who served a Japanese Snapper Carpaccio with Micro Shiso and Tosazu. His distinctive dish was paired with a Loimer Riesling, Austria 2006. The rare snapper was as fresh as the freshest you would find at the Tsukiji fish market.

Julian serrano

Julian Serrano’s Roasted Scallop

Michael mina Bellagio

Michael Mina & Anthony Amoroso’s Crispy Pork Belly

MICHELIN two star chef Julian Serrano of Picasso served the third course of Roasted Scallops, Green Asparagus, Hollandaise Mousseline & Confit of Leeks paired with a Torres “nerola” Cataluyna 2005. Chef’s Michael Mina and Anthony Amoroso followed with a fourth course of Crispy Pork Belly, Vegetables a la Grecque, Wild Arugula & California Ranch Oliver Oil with a Domaine Ott Rose’ “Clos Mireille” Cotes du Provence 2007. Both the Picasso and Michael Mina dishes were beautifully executed and exquisite in taste.

Todd english

Isaac Carter and Todd English take the stage

Robert moore Jean-Georges

Robert Moore’s Dry Aged A5 Wagyu

Chef Robert Moore of John-Georges Vongerichten’s Prime Steakhouse finished the pre-dessert portion of the meal with a mouthwatering Dry Aged A5 Wagyu Rib-Eye with Grilled Shitake Mushrooms & Sesame Mustard. The wagyu was paired with a Chateaur Goulee, Medoc, Bordeaux 2005. Must mention what a thoughtful person Chef Moore is. I was coughing at the table and he immediately asked if I needed tea or something to drink. I already liked him after eating my Wagyu, and I liked him even more after his kind gesture. Not only a great chef, but a great guy! Gotta love it.

Jean-Philippe Maury

Jean-Philippe maury

As if a meal prepared by Chef’s Todd English, Akira Back, Julian Serrano, Michael Mina, Anthony Amoroso and Robert Moore weren’t enough, the Gala Dinner ended with a Grand and when I say Grand I mean GRAND!!! Dessert by Chef Jean-Philippe Maury and team. Dessert was paired with an Inniskillin Vidal Blanc “Ice Wine” Niagara Peninsula 2006. The dining room doors flung open, and awaiting us in the large patio balcony where we first enjoyed the initial reception was a dessert utopia. The entire balcony literally spanned with hundreds of pastries, chocolates, stations of gelato, nuts, sugar swans, and everything and anything sweet and sugary your mind could imagine.

Jean-philippe maury

Pastry Chef Jean-Philippe Maury

The Gala Dinner was an elegant highlight of the Vegas Uncork’d weekend. Perhaps with the exception of the cheezy themed outfits on the hired models who walked the chefs arm in arm to the stage, it was otherwise, a world class evening with an extraordinary dinner prepared by Las Vegas’ most award-winning chefs. The setting was gorgeous, our palates were satisfied, and what better way to end the Gala than with the most perfect ending of the sweetest dreams by pastry chef extraordinaire Jean-Philippe Maury.

Read more

Cocktails and Cuisine at Vegas Uncork’d


Steve Olson, Tony Abou-Ganim, Patricia Richards, Francesco Lafranconi

I arrived in Vegas just in time to head off to the Cocktails and Cuisine event for Vegas Uncork'd at the Encore Resort. I didn't know what to expect, but I did know that with names such as Steve Olson and Master Mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim at the helm of this Latin libation inspired event, this was going to be a festive way to start the weekend! 


Joining Abou-Ganim were mixologists Patricia Richards of Wynn Resorts and Francesco Lafranconi of Southern Wine and Spirits. The mixologists each took turns shaking up the stage and showing us in the audience how to create inspiring cocktails with our individual Patron mixers and tables equipped with all the ingredients you could ever need for the perfect mixed drink.

Lafranconi's Inca Mama was a modern spin on the Pisco Sour while Richards' Blood Orange & Ginger-rita was perfectly refreshing with it's organic agave nectar and splash of freshly juiced ginger root. Abou-Ganim's Coconut Batida was dessert in a goblet with it's coconut cream and toasted coconut for garnish.



Mayan Chocolate Thimble w/Cinnamon Meringue

Cocktails and Cuisine at Bon Appetit's Vegas Uncork'd far exceeded my expectations and I am anxiously awaiting the next event. Everyone was having a blast and how could you not when you were making the coolest cocktails on the planet with the top master mixologists. Not to mention, with every cocktail, we were served a delectable bite by Wynn chef James Benson which was paired integrally well with the various cocktails.



The room was filled with folks from all walks of life, and throughout the two hour event, the room got louder (go figure), more interactive and in the end you felt as if you made a hundred new friends. Not only did we have a spirited afternoon full of cocktails and cuisine at the lavish Encore, but we all left the event with our own colorful Patron mixer sets to bring home to nurture the master mixologist in all of us.

Read more

Vegas Uncork’d All Weekend…

Vegas Uncorkd

Off to Sin City for Vegas Uncork'd presented by Bon Appetit. I will be twittering live updates all weekend long on Food Fashionista's Twitter and will have full coverage with tons of photos and details right here in the next few days.

Last I looked, it's 95 degrees in Vegas, and one thing's for sure, with super star chefs like Joel Robuchon, Alain Ducasse, Paul Bartolotta, Bobby Flay, and Laurent Tourondel at Uncork'd this weekend…it is definitely going to be a sizzling HOT weekend in Vegas!

Follow Mika's live updates on Twitter here

Read more

Celebrity Chef Blackjack Tournament – Vegas Uncork’d

Celebrity Chef Blackjack Tournament

You still have time to get your tickets for this Friday's ultra luxe Celebrity Chef Blackjack Tournament being held poolside of Steve Wynn's lavish Encore hotel. Where else in the world can you play a hand or be an spectator with the cream of the crop chefs in the world at the blackjack table while sipping drinks from a premium open bar. Bring a friend, bring five, I guarantee this will be a night you do not want to miss!

The chefs that will be in attendance include:

Daniel Boulud, Daniel Boulud Brasserie
Paul Bartolotta, Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare
Kim Canteenwalla, Society Café
Tom Colicchio, Craftsteak
Bobby Flay, Mesa Grill
Jean Joho, Eiffel Tower Restaurant
Hubert Keller, Fleur de Lys
Kyle MacLachlan, (celebrity co-host)
Mary Sue Milliken, Border Grill
Rick Moonen, RM Seafood
François Payard, Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro Caesars Palace
Carla Pellegrino, Rao's Caesars Palace
Joël Robuchon, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Richard Sandoval, Isla Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar
Theo Schoenegger, Sinatra
Alex Stratta, Alex
Jet Tila, Wazuzu
Laurent Tourondel, BLT Burger
David Walzog, SW Steakhouse

Read more

James Beard Awards 2009 Winners & Nominees

James beard

2009 James Beard Foundation Awards Nominees and Winners

*Winners in Red

Broadcast Media Awards

Presented by Viking Range Corporation
For television, webcast, and radio programs aired in 2008.


Living Today, Martha Stewart Living Radio: José Andrés
Host: Mario Bosquez
Area: Nationwide U.S.
Producers: Naomi Gabay and Lauren Gould Thomas Jefferson and

Hosts: Ted M. Burns, Brian Clark, Eric Anderson, and Jay Selman
Area: Online
Producer: Jay Selman

WNYC, The Leonard Lopate Show: 3-Ingredient Challenge
Hosts: Leonard Lopate and Rozanne Gold
Area: New York City Metro, Online
Producer: Sarah English

Read more