Culinary guru eyes grand N.Y. project


For more than a decade, restaurant consultant Elizabeth Blau helped Steve Wynn line up elite chefs for two of his biggest hotel projects, Bellagio and Wynn Las Vegas.

Wynn has returned the favor by recommending Blau for one of the most prestigious jobs in the culinary world.

She’s been hired to help restore New York City’s legendary Rainbow Room at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

“It’s really an honor to work on such an extraordinary project,” said Blau, in this week’s Q&A interview at normclarke.com. “We’re working with the developer Tishman Speyer on all aspects of bringing it back to its former glory. One of the exciting things we’re doing is this international search for an executive chef.

“It’s kind of on the magnitude of a Wynn or a Bellagio,” she said. “It’s going to be one of the most extraordinary career opportunities for someone.”

Blau shares details of her first job in the restaurant business, as a taco-serving 16-year-old, her courtship with chef Kim Canteenwalla, the five people she’d love to have dinner with and a 19-year-old singing phenom.

BONUS YEARS

Family and friends of Las Vegas restaurateur Marcel Taylor celebrated his life on Thursday.

The steakhouse pioneer died last week at age of 74. His funeral was held at Our Lady of Las Vegas Church, 3050 Alta Drive.

He often gratefully said the years he lived past Nov. 13, 1998 were bonus years. He should have died that day in San Francisco, he said.

Taylor had left a friend’s party and decided to have a pizza and beer at the bar of the Pan Pacific Hotel. He had just paid his bill when his heart gave out.

Lady Luck was with him that night because two doctors and a nurse were at a nearby table. The nurse kept him alive until the paramedics arrived seven minutes later.

“They hit me nine times (with the defibrillator),” Taylor told me five years ago, near the 20th anniversary of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse on Paradise.

“But they couldn’t get a heartbeat. “I was talking to a paramedic (years later) … and he said, ‘You don’t know how lucky you are. We usually stop after five times.’ ”

THE SCENE AND HEARD

You can support UNLV basketball coach Dave Rice’s “Restaurant Rally” today by dining at any of the nearly two dozen participating restaurants. They are donating a portion of all proceeds from today to the Dave Rice Foundation for autism funding and awareness. The restaurants include Sammy’s Restaurant, Bar & Grill, all Raising Cane’s locations, Poppy Den, La Comida and Park on Fremont. For more information, go to davericefoundation.org.

SIGHTINGS

Gov. Brian Sandoval, ordering a Cobb salad with shrimp for lunch at Vintner Grill on Thursday. … Bruce Jenner of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” fame, dining at Andrea’s at Encore (Wynn) on Tuesday with a large group. His split with Kris Jenner was recently acknowledged.

THE PUNCH LINE

“Half of the state of Colorado voted to secede from the United States. This is what happens when you legalize marijuana.” — David Letterman

Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Reach him at 702-383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find more at normclarke.com. Follow @Norm_Clarke on Twitter. “Norm Clarke’s Vegas” airs Thursdays on the “Morning Blend” on KTNV-TV, Channel 13.