Vegas Uncork’d launches with Saber-off at Park MGM

The Saber scene

Bon Apetit’s Uncork’d food festival on the Strip launched Thursday afternoon with the Saber-Off at The Park promenade at the newly re-minted Park MGM. A toast to MGM Grand Chef Masaharu Morimoto for his perseverance under high heat and uncooperative props. Assigned with the traditional task of cutting the cork off a bottle of Prosecco, Morimoto made a series of passes (at one point turning to Border Grill’s Susan Feniger for direction) before finally blowing off the top.

The ever-present Mark Shunock, the Golden Knights’ in-arena co-host, served as emcee. More than 20 star chefs took part in the event, including Guy Savoy, Shawn McClain, Timon Balloo and Stephen Hopcraft. Also in the mix: Adam Rapoport, editor-in-chief of Bon Apetit; Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Chief Marketing Officer Cathy Tull; Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits Master Sommelier and Director of Wine Education Joseph Phillips; and The Park Executive Director Anthony Olheiser.

After Morimoto salvaged the photo op, I asked Rapoport what is Las Vegas’s next food frontier.

“We know that the big question is about off-the-Strip options … We know that the game on-Strip is going to be topnotch, with the best and biggest names in the world,” Rapoport said. “But how do you continue to develop the restaurants and the talent off the Strip enough so that when visitors come to Vegas, they are compelled to go check out the city beyond where they are staying?”

As Rapoport noted, national media coverage of the Vegas culinary scene remains focused on the Strip.

“That’s where everyone is staying, that’s where the visitors are, that’s where the money is,” he said. “But there is obviously great talent off-Strip as well.”

This is a good topic of conversation the next time I dine at Esther’s Kitchen, in the heart of the Arts District …

More food!

On the topic of dining out …

The restaurant nation chain Buca di Beppo links Robert Earl to the revival of “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding,” which returns to that restaurant’s outpost at Bally’s in June. Earl owned Planet Hollywood hotel-casino when “Tony N’ Tina’s” performed on the hotel’s mezzanine level about a decade ago.

Earl loved the show, not surprisingly, that he’s been a fan of dinner theater his entire career — Earl’s first company, President Entertainment, specialized in themed restaurants.

When “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding” original producers Raphael Berko and Jeff Gitlin sought a venue to relaunch on the Strip, they turned to the obvious — Buca at Bally’s with its large dining room and menu filled with Italian. Earl is a willing partner, and if this concept works we might see “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding” playing Buca restaurants across the country.

A Winnipeg rocker

The celebrity connections between VegasVille and Winnipeg are scant. But one famous artist from Winnipeg: Neil Young, who most recently played Las Vegas at The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in 2015.

Widespread update

I’ve mentioned the possibility of Widespread Panic playing The Park Theater this summer. Not so.

I now expect — read, expect — the band to instead headline the theater in October. No announcement and no tickets up yet, but I’ve got Ticketmaster bookmarked for such needs …

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at Follow @johnnykats on Twitter.

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