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Couple eat 750 meals as research for coffee table book

Imagine having to eat a different gourmet meal, most created by top-flight chefs, night after night — 750 of them.

Such a chore.

But that’s what Summerlin residents John and Laury Bakie did as part of their research. The result is “The World of Las Vegas Dining,” a coffee table book that takes a definitive look at the better-known restaurants of the Las Vegas Valley and some hidden gems. Researching it caused the married authors to eat dishes such as kumquat-glazed salmon, foie gras, miso-bronzed black cod and a Black Angus 28-ounce T-bone.

“We didn’t have to force ourselves,” said John Bakie.

Only 250 eateries made it into the 280-page book.

The chefs behind the eateries often have famous names such as Todd English, Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay and Joël Robuchon.

It all began with Capital Grille, 3200 Las Vegas Blvd. South. They also attended food events such as the Las Vegas Epicurean Affair and charity functions that featured the talents of top chefs.

Sometimes they were at five restaurants in the same night.

“One time, we were ready to leave, and a waiter said to me, ‘Will you be having dessert?’ and I said, ‘No, I have to go eat,’ ” Laury Bakie recalled.

“Dining is very subjective, so we wanted to get a lot of information,” her husband said.

The Bakies have been publishing books and magazines on the food world for more than 20 years.

The book is available at theworldof
lasvegasdining.com. The couple are planning several book launches and signings that will take place on the Strip. They also plan to go on a national and international book tour.

The Bakies looked to their own expertise to research the book. John Bakie, for example, went into the kitchen of Intimate, a small but notable place in Henderson, to get a close-up look at the operation. He ended up filling in when the sous chef was running late.

Intimate has since closed, a sign of the times, not any lacking on Bakie’s part as a sous chef.

Laury Bakie’s forte is catching the details that can make or break a dining experience, including ambie nce and how the adept the staff is.

“When I was a waitress, I always did well with tips because I paid attention,” she said. “I’d remember people, and when they came in again, I’d walk over to greet them with their drink. They’d be impressed.”

“The World of Las Vegas Dining” doesn’t just look to Strip eateries. In Summerlin, Vintner Grill, 10100 W. Charleston Blvd., Suite 150, is included.

“Vintner Grill is one of the gems of the suburbs,” the book says.

Nora’s Wine Bar, 1031 S. Rampart Blvd., across from Boca Park, also is featured. Who knew that, back in the kitchen, the eatery uses a 1927 Berkel meat slicer, better to thin-slice one’s prosciutto . In contrast, Nora’s uses modern technology to dispense wine in 1- , 3- and 6 -ounce pours.

Michael Jordan of Rosemary’s, 8125 W. Sahara Ave., said he had no idea anyone had been into the restaurant to check it out.

“Sometimes food critics will not tell you they’re coming because they want their visit to be closer to the guest experience,” he said.

Jordan said being in the coffee table book alongside eateries “is huge for us . That means a lot to me.”

For eating out as much as they do, one would think the Bakies would be at war with the bathroom scale. Not a problem — the slim couple are avid hikers, work out with weights and are at the gym nearly every day.

The couple estimated each meal averaged about $300 but said that was only 5 percent of what it took to put the book together.

Next up for the couple is a book on dining in Philadelphia. It will require doing the same due diligence and dining out night after night again. Such a chore.

Contact Summerlin and Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 387-2949.

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