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Pastry chef gets sweet ending after all

With 9,000 desserts in the works, Amy Byro-Burhen, executive pastry chef for Caesars Palace, didn’t need a crisis.

She had two doozies: A bird somehow had gotten into the Augustus Ballroom, where the desserts were staged for the New Year’s Eve casino players party for 2,800. And, worse, the room temperature was pushing 80 degrees.

“Way too hot for chocolate,” said Byro-Burhen, who had 140 pounds of chocolate for table centerpieces.

Her world returned to normalcy when the pesky bird was captured and room temps were lowered about 20 degrees.

Burhen and her staff of 46 prepared 3,000 each of black forest tarts, coconut dacquois and creme de cassis shots.

After the party, a short night and a quick turnaround: a New Year’s Day brunch for 2,500.

This time of year she spends precious little time with her husband, Chet Buchanan, host of the “Morning Zoo” at KLUC-radio, 98.5 FM.

Starting in early December each year, he lives atop a 30-foot scaffolding for 12 days in the NV Energy parking lot on West Sahara Avenue to collect Christmas gifts for local families and dozens of nonprofit agencies. KLUC has been doing the event for 17 years.

“We start our big push about the same time,” said Byro-Burhen, whose long haul ends Saturday.

The native of south Texas has been specializing in desserts for 24 years. In 2000, she was the first person to graduate from UNLV’s culinary arts management program.

“I love it,” she said of her 15 years with Caesars Entertainment. “I’m so happy when I see someone take that first bite and they’re just in heaven. Or when you deliver a wedding cake and the bride has tears in her eyes.”

2016 promises to be a big year, she said. Caesars Palace will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in August.

“That’s going to be a really big deal for us,” she said.

What’s in a name?

Star chef Pierre Gagnaire grew up with 1960s American music, which explains why he named his first Las Vegas restaurant Twist.

“That’s my generation. I loved Chubby Checker and ‘The Twist,'” said Gagnaire, who is in town for the long New Year’s weekend at Twist, one of his 15 restaurants.

Gagnaire said he looks forward to the day when Checker, still a Las Vegas regular, shows up at Twist.

Gagnaire also named a rice dish about 10 years ago after the Big Bopper’s 1959 hit “Chantilly Lace.” Thai rice and Japanese rice are added to his version of lobster bisque, which includes spinach and chives.

The scene and heard

Downtown Summerlin hot spot Andiron Steak & Sea has made Zagat’s restaurant guide as one of the 10 hottest steakhouses in the United States. Husband-wife team Kim Canteenwalla and Elizabeth Blau opened it in March.


Britney Spears, with her sons and entourage at Murray Sawchuck‘s magic show Thursday at the Planet Hollywood. … Newly crowned UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, shopping for a James Bond-style tuxedo on Thursday at Stitched at The Cosmopolitan. He was on his way to a suite at The Cosmopolitan for a photo shoot featuring the title belt he claimed by handing Chris Weidman his first loss on Dec. 12. … “Dancing With the Stars” pro Mark Ballas, dining at Tao Asian Bistro in The Venetian. … Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, with friends at Lavo Italian Restaurant in the Palazzo on Wednesday.

The punch line

“What do you call a pirate droid? An Arrrr2-D2.” — From the Internet

Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find more online at www.normclarke.com. On Twitter: @Norm_Clarke

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