Dario Cecchini surprised by Nicole Brisson at Los Angeles food festival

The world’s best butcher, Dario Cecchini of Panzano, Italy, was feted at Los Angeles Food Bowl Festival, and his former intern, chef Nicole Brisson, flew over same-day round trip at her expense from Mario Batali restaurants she runs at The Venetian and The Palazzo to surprise him.

I watched as they hugged and kissed, and Dario told me: “She’s my adopted daughter.” Nicole confirmed: “He’s my cooking father. Everything I know about meat I learned from Dario. He encouraged me to always do better, always strive for more — and it proved true.”

Nicole, who worked at Wynn Las Vegas under chef Paul Bartolotta and Mario and business partner Joe Bastianich at Babbo at The Venetian, then went to Carnevino at The Palazzo before becoming culinary director for Mario’s restaurants here.

It’s great that she attended because they were one chef short at Nancy Silverton’s restaurant Mozza, where they hosted a four-course dinner Tuesday. Nicole volunteered to help, and I was fortunate that she turned out to be the chef at my table. Nancy, Dario, his wife Kim and my family and I will meet up this summer in Tuscany. Maybe Nicole will surprise us again?


I just missed Planet Hollywood headliner magician Murray Sawchuck on my rush overnight L.A. visit. My Dario dinner ran late — and with excessive quantities of bold Tuscan red wines. Murray is guesting this week at The Magic Castle as a headliner performing three shows nightly at the prestigious venue that hosts the world’s best illusionists.


Danielle, Kristina, Raven and Jasmine, four of the ladies from ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” will be here Memorial Day Weekend to raise money for Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth. On Saturday, they host a champagne party and dinner at The Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay. At least nine other bachelorettes will be on hand with the starlets.


Singer and online radio host Dennis Bono has agreed to be roasted at South Point Showroom on June 26 by six Las Vegas friends. Dean Martin’s daughter, Deana Martin, will host the event, a fundraiser for our beloved charity Opportunity Village. I’ve agreed to be one of the six roasters and promised not to go too hard on Dennis, but I can assure that there will be plenty of zingers.


Las Vegas nurse and grandmother Helene Neville has finished running across Wyoming and also today crossed the 10,000-mile mark of her bid to run across every state in the nation. She has 11 states remaining and 3,700 miles to go to secure the world record.


A hiccup in starlet Ashlee Simpson’s schedule has caused a postponement for the showcase of “Marilyn The New Musical” being presented at Mark Shunock’s The Space. Ashlee stars as Marilyn Monroe in this new production debuting here. A new date is to be announced shortly.

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