The Chefs on Stage component of the Life Is Beautiful festival will be a clear reflection of the festival itself — fun and free-spirited, with plenty of music.
Jolene Mannina, head of culinary arts for the festival, says about 20 chefs will be involved in 19 demonstrations over two days, from 1:45 to 9 p.m. Saturday and 12:45 to 8 p.m. Sunday. The demonstrations, which are included in the festival admission, will be presented on two stages provided by Sub-Zero Wolf (and with Whole Foods Market as a co-sponsor), next to the Culinary Village, behind the old Western Hotel.
“There are a few different things going on,” Mannina says. “Some are doing normal demonstrations, some are doing collaborations, some will have a little bit of guest participation. We’re definitely trying to get some music into the 45-minute demonstrations,” with some of the chefs collaborating with musicians.
Among those who will be giving demonstrations as part of Chefs on Stage are Bruce and Eric Bromberg, Scott Conant, Jet Tila, Cat Cora, Rick Moonen, Hubert Keller, Kerry Simon, Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, Carla Pellegrino and Todd English.
“I’ve got two guys coming down from Portland (Ore.) that are going to do a whole butcher demo,” Mannina says. “Another chef is doing a collaboration with a rock photographer.”
That would be Grant MacPherson, a former executive chef for the Bellagio and current owner of Scotch Myst Consulting, which has projects all over the world, including Australia and Russia (the latter for the upcoming Winter Olympics). “Sharing Time With Chef Grant MacPherson and Rock Photographer Robert Knight” is scheduled for 6:15 to 7 p.m. Saturday. MacPherson says Knight’s part of the collaboration will involve some of his photographs displayed on the rear of the stage.
“There will be an interaction on the back with some of his photographs he’s done through the years with people like Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, which obviously goes along with the festival,” he says. “He’s very passionate about food and wine, like myself.”
Which brings us to MacPherson’s part of things.
“Of course I’ll be doing all the cooking,” he says. “And I’m going to be doing a mini-butcher shop.”
To that end, they’ll have a whole wet-aged rib-eye, whole wet-aged prime tenderloin and a whole wet-aged sirloin.
“They’ll be hanging like in a butcher shop,” he says. “We’ll be cutting some steaks, we’ll be seasoning them, cooking them, preparing some sauces you typically get with steak, such as Bearnaise, green peppercorn and our own ginger ketchup.”
The steaks, he says, are in keeping with the festival’s location, since steak is a “big Las Vegas thing. It’s huge.”
But he realizes that most members of the audience aren’t about to go out and get a side of beef and start whacking away.
“A lot of people won’t be butchering at home, but we’ll also be seasoning steaks, talking about what pepper to use, what a char is,” he says. “Everybody wants to know how to cook a steak.”
And it won’t be all observation.
“It will be interactive; we’ll probably get somebody from the audience to come up onstage and give us a hand,” MacPherson says.
Oh, and just as an aside, Knight is a vegetarian.
“He’s not going to be eating,” MacPherson says. “We were going to do some old retro Vegas dishes. At the end of the day, we want to keep the audience happy. He has great stories about his taking pictures of Elton John, some of the stuff he used to do. We’ll tease each other a little bit on different things and make it fun.
“I think it should be a lot of fun.”
Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0474.