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COVID era inspires Wynn Las Vegas first: Thanksgiving at Home

Updated November 18, 2020 - 8:52 am

Wynn Las Vegas isn’t a place where you’d normally order food to go, but this year has taught us plenty about doing things we wouldn’t normally do. And Kelly Bianchi, the resort’s executive chef for catering and banquets, is a lemonade-from-lemons kind of person who actually sees opportunity in the midst of a pandemic. Ergo, Wynn’s Thanksgiving at Home.

“I feel like COVID has given us a really fun opportunity to do something we’ve never done before at the Wynn, which is offer a package like this,” Bianchi said.

If it’s true that we eat at first with our eyes, it makes sense that, as Bianchi said, resort employees put a lot of thought into the packaging.

Related: Restaurants offer family-style Thanksgiving dinners, ready for takeout

“Aesthetically,” she said, “the packaging would represent the hotel; we’re actually excited about our packaging. It’s going to look really pretty.” But they also wanted to be sure the packages would be easy to carry between resort and vehicle and vehicle and home. So that attractive exterior — paper-based, which wouldn’t do to either contain moisture or make for easy reheating — conceals an inner package of sturdy aluminum. The staff also separated the feast into three boxes, for both ease of handling and food quality and safety.

“One box will have all of the cold items in it,” Bianchi said, “pies, bread, cranberry sauce and an herb bouquet, which can be used as a garnish for the turkey or if you wanted to make additional gravy or something like that.

“The next box will have the sides — the stuffing, our cauliflower gratin, roasted fall vegetables and creamy potatoes, and also the gravy.”

The turkey will get its own box, enclosed in a tented design.

Trial & error

Bianchi said repeated trial and error was involved.

“We did go through a tasting process with the entire menu,” she said. “We wanted to ensure everything was going to be as delicious fresh out of the oven — making sure the potatoes were extra creamy, making sure the stuffing had enough moisture so it wouldn’t dry out. When we roast the vegetables, really paying close attention.”

And they’re coming in at 3 a.m., so everything will be freshly prepared.

Luckily, they did have some precedent.

“It transfers really well to what I do for a living, which is cater large events,” Bianchi said. “I feel like that’s translated really, really well into this.”

She said there’s obviously a challenge in doing anything new, so non-starter dishes were summarily eliminated.

“We chose things that would be particularly conducive to this type of service,” Bianchi said. “Any dishes we really felt like might be a challenge, we decided wouldn’t be appropriate.”

The Thanksgiving at Home package, which is $350 and serves eight to 10, includes a whole roasted 10- to 12-pound turkey, gravy, an herb bouquet, mashed potatoes, ciabatta stuffing with chestnuts and dried fruit, cauliflower casserole with Gruyere and brioche crumble, spiced cranberry sauce with candied orange peel and pastries including apple pie and pumpkin pie with Chantilly cream. Pickup available Nov. 25 with instructions on how to roast the turkey or fully cooked on Nov. 26. Curbside pick-up available. Call 702-770-5297 or email Catering2@wynnlasvegas.com.

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

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