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Las Vegas’ Whiskey in the Wilderness festival goes virtual

Updated May 18, 2020 - 3:37 pm

Whiskey in the Wilderness is going virtual for 2020, with a little help from SecretBurger.com. While COVID-19 concerns will prevent the popular open-fire culinary festival from returning to the pastures near Red Rock Canyon, fans will be able to gather online to enjoy food and conversation inspired by the concept, in a series of interactive meals.

The event’s promoters, Justin Kinglsey Hall and Lee Flint, don’t expect to hold the fourth live installment of the outdoor festival until winter, or perhaps fall, of 2021. Rather than going dormant this year, however, they’ve asked some chef friends to create dishes inspired by past events that fans can enjoy at home, while participating in a virtual fireside chat hosted by bartender and Booze Broad podcast host Sarah Gage.

“She and I will chat,” Whiskey in the Wilderness co-founder Hall says. “And then I’ll back out, and we’ll have a shot of whiskey with (the day’s chef), and ask him some questions. And then if anybody on Instagram wants to shout at him or ask anything, they can. So it’s kind of that experience, like Whiskey in the Wilderness, where people have time to talk to the chefs. This will give them that opportunity to engage.”

The initial four events will take place this week and next. The first, set for Friday, is a seafood boil created by chef Khai Vu of Mordeo. Dessert is served on Saturday, in the form of some boozy plant-based ice cream from Paradise City Creamery’s Val Stunning.

Next week’s lineup starts with a grilled apricot, stracciatella, prosciutto and arugula pesto pizza from Metro Pizza’s Chris Decker on May 26. On May 27, the public will get a taste of Augie’s Sandwich Isle — a pop-up concept from Bardot Brasserie chef Josh Smith. The initial run of events is $15 to $50, with optional add-ons.

“The hope is to add more,” Hall explains of the lineup, adding that although the first four events do not involve customers cooking along at home, future additions to the series almost certainly will.

“I’m for sure going to do one,” he promises.

He’s also hoping to be able to include a whiskey component in future packages. For now, however, guests will have to supply their own beverages.

“For the first four, the only person who would be able to sell alcohol would be Khai from Mordeo. It was just kind of hard trying to work that out (in time). But I’ve talked to a few other chefs who would be able to do alcohol packages from their restaurants. So we’re going to add that in later on.”

Hall says the series could run through July. Everyone who purchases a meal for any of the events will be automatically entered to win free admission to Whiskey in the Wilderness 2021. Participants also can buy tickets for a chance to win a painting by local artist Jerry Misko inspired by the festival, with proceeds going to a still-to-be-determined local charity.

For tickets or more information, go to secretburger.com and click the link for Whiskey in the Wilderness.

Contact Al Mancini at amancini@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlManciniVegas on Twitter and Instagram.

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