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Nearly 30 Las Vegas chefs sign on for this big-time food festival

Updated April 22, 2024 - 7:12 pm

Call it an Unstripped tease.

Vegas Unstripped, the festival celebrating local food and drink, returns for its fifth running on May 18. In advance of the festival, the organizer shared the names of the 29 participating chefs confirmed to date. That number, the most ever, is likely to grow in the coming weeks, said Eric Gladstone, owner of Feast of Friends, organizer of Vegas Unstripped.

This year, the festival moves from the Arts District downtown to the pool deck of the Palms. Below are the 29 chefs who are serving in person the one-night-only dishes they are creating for Vegas Unstripped.

At the pool, a deep dive into culinary talent

Oscar Amador (EDO Gastro Tapas & Wine, Anima by EDO), a James Beard Award finalist

John Arena (Metro Pizza, Truly Pizza)

Geno Bernardo (The Summit Club)

Anthony Carron (Alexxa’s)

Johnny Church (Johnny C’s Catering), a “Chopped” winner

Francesco Di Caudo (Basilico Ristorante), a James Beard Award nominee

Roy Ellamar (Fine Company)

Mitsuo Endo (Aburiya Raku, Raku Toridokoro, Casa de Raku), a James Beard Award nominee

Christophe Feyt (HUKL Culinary)

Oulay Fisher (Calabash African Kitchen)

DJ Flores (Milpa), a James Beard Award nominee

Bruce Kalman (SoulBelly BBQ) a James Beard Award nominee and “Chopped” winner

Steve Kestler (Aroma Latin American Cocina), James Beard Award finalist

Gary LaMorte (Honest Hospitality)

Dustin Lewandowski (1228 Main)

Marty Lopez (Scotch 80 Prime)

Gina Marinelli (La Strega and Harlø Steakhouse), a James Beard Award nominee

Giovanni Mauro (Monzù, Old School Pizza)

Sean O’Hara (Esther’s Kitchen)

Luke Palladino (Meta-Hospitality)

Ralph Perrazzo (Snap-O-Razzo)

Adam Rios (Al Solito Posto)

Michael Rubinstein (Vetri Cucina)

Jessica Scott (50 Eggs Hospitality)

Jackson Stamper (Ada’s Food + Wine)

Joe Swan (Mabel’s BBQ)

Yuri Szarzewski (Partage)

James Trees (Esther’s Kitchen and Timeless Cuisine), a James Beard Award finalist

Ramtin Yashar (Bar Bohème)

“They’re all bangers, but I’m not done yet,” Gladstone said. “I want a little more diversity in culinary background. We don’t compromise.”

Keeping the spirit at a new venue

Vegas Unstripped was launched in 2018 in reaction to a longtime Strip event (now defunct) created by out-of-towners to showcase celebrity chefs while excluding homegrown culinary talent.

The Palms isn’t on the Strip, but its pool complex (where Sammy Hagar’s Island launches May 17) certainly contrasts with the urban edge of the Arts District. How will that shift play into Vegas Unstripped?

“I didn’t want to lose the independent spirit of it, the authenticity of it,” Gladstone said. “In Vegas, there’s something about doing an event at a casino that legitimizes it, both to locals and visitors. It’s always been a goal to tell the story of local Vegas culinary to people outside of the city.”

And the Palms “gave us carte blanche,” Gladstone continued. “They’re not trying to take it over; they’re not trying to tell us what to do.”

How to purchase tickets

Chefs do not pay to participate in Vegas Unstripped. Almost all expenses they incur are covered by event revenue. Most principal staff are volunteers. Chefs and their staff donate their time. Net proceeds are donated to underserved local charities (more information at the event’s website).

Besides the roster of chefs, Vegas Unstripped offers cocktails from many of the city’s best bars, live local entertainers, art activations and more. Tickets have remained at $150, plus fees, and are available at vegasunstripped.com. Follow @vegasunstripped on Instagram and Facebook. Attendees must be at least 21.

Contact Johnathan L. Wright at jwright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @JLWTaste on Instagram.

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