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Vegas Uncork’d is the Best Food Festival in the World

Posted May 14, 2018 by Stephanie

I’m 2 pounds heavier and a lot of dollars lighter than last week because we spent the last three days eating our faces off at the 12th annual Vegas Uncork’d. If you guys are fans of Bon Appetit (we definitely are) or Las Vegas, then you’ve probably heard about Uncork’d, the giant food and wine festival, held in Vegas every year. I have been drooling over this festival for what seems to be forever and this year we were lucky enough to go!

Every year around May I get major FOMO when I see all the photos of people partying in Vegas. But the FOMO I get isn’t about the panda pool parties (ok, maybe a little), EDM nights, or gambling. No, my FOMO is all about the food. Picture plates and plates of perfectly produced pastas, potatoes, and other foods that don’t start with “p”. Everything always looks delicious and it’s been a dream of mine to check it out.

From what I can tell, Uncork’d works as little something like this:

There are three types of events, meals, tastings, and “classes.” The meals are hosted by celebrity chefs at their restaurants. There’s some mingling, a sit down dinner, and much drinking. The tastings are big (and smaller) events where celebrity chefs that have properties in Vegas make little tasting dishes. The chefs hang out at their booths and people mingle around and eat as much as they can while taking photos with chefs. Drinks are free flowing, the sun is always shining, and good times are abound. The classes are more intimate gatherings where – you got it – celebrity chefs give you tips and tricks on food and drinks.

Nobu

The first night Mike and I went to Nobu’s 5 year anniversary dinner at his restaurant in his very first hotel, very fittingly called Nobu. There was caviar and champagne, sushi and wagyu, and the very happy, very friendly Nobu. My favorite bite of the evening was his famous black cod miso (which we did not get a picture of). We made friends with the people sharing our table, bonding over our mutual love of sushi, sneakers, and EDM. Well, maybe not so much the EDM because even though I like it, I don’t know much about it. But, our new friend did grab Mike’s number so he could text him because he had at table reserved at Encore for Marshmello. We skipped out on Marshmello (I wasn’t feeling well) and I’m still sad about it because it turns out that we didn’t go, but Gordon Ramsay did. Plus after our new friend invited us, I went on a Marshmello listening binge and I’m now the hugest fan. How could I not be a fan of a DJ named Marshmello!?

Las Vegas Uncork'd Nobu | www.iamafoodblog.com

Las Vegas Uncork'd Nobu | www.iamafoodblog.com

Las Vegas Uncork'd Nobu | www.iamafoodblog.com

Las Vegas Uncork'd Nobu | www.iamafoodblog.com

Giada

The next day we woke up early for a coffee and cake with Giada. It was so weird (in a good way!) seeing her in person. I remember watching Everyday Italian years ago. She was so tiny in real life – even tinier than she is on TV. We went through a little coffee tasting with Counter Coffee Culture (my favorite was the Big Trouble, a clean, sweet, low-acidity with nutty caramel chocolate hints) and had snacks from Pronto, her new fast-casual shop in Caesars Palace. There were biscotti, breakfast sandwiches, frittata, and the prettiest Italian rainbow cake.

She also told the cutest story: someone in the audience asked her what her family back in italy want her to make for them when she’s visiting. She said that as far as they were concerned, she’s still just 3 foot tall little Giada and they can all cook better than her, so she’s not allowed in the kitchen. With multiple successful restaurants and tv shows, she said it is really easy for her to get caught up in the bubble, but back at home being just ordinary Giada really keeps her grounded in a good way.

Las Vegas Uncork'd Giada | www.iamafoodblog.com

Las Vegas Uncork'd Giada | www.iamafoodblog.com

Las Vegas Uncork'd Giada | www.iamafoodblog.com

Morimoto

I almost died at the next event, which was Morimoto, right in front of an intimate group of 14, talking and teaching us how to make sushi. He broke down a kampachi in 2 minutes, explained how he decides to source his fish, and begged people to stop putting wasabi in their soy sauce. Speaking of wasabi, Chef Morimoto told us how sushi chefs decide on how much wasabi goes on each piece of nigiri: fattier pieces like toro and salmon get more wasabi because they can stand up to the spice while less fatty pieces get less wasabi because they’re more delicate tasting.

Chef Morimoto likes to source his fish based on seasons. If he’s looking for a winter fish but it happens to be summer in Japan, he’ll source fish from Australia, since the seasons are opposite.

After a brief nigiri shaping tutorial, Chef showed us how to make our own spicy negitoro rolls and we went to town. It felt surreal, making a sushi roll in front of Morimoto. I mean, he’s an Iron Chef! I used to religiously watch that show way back in the day. Remember that episode when he went up against Bobby Flay!? Man, that was intense. Also intense was how good this session was. I think that my sushi rolling skills need a little work, but hey, maybe after a few more lessons I can make something Chef Morimoto approved?!

Las Vegas Uncork'd Morimoto | www.iamafoodblog.com

Las Vegas Uncork'd Morimoto | www.iamafoodblog.com

Las Vegas Uncork'd Morimoto | www.iamafoodblog.com

Las Vegas Uncork'd Morimoto | www.iamafoodblog.com

Las Vegas Uncork'd Morimoto | www.iamafoodblog.com

The Grand Tasting

The Grand Tasting is Uncork’d big event, held at the Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis at Caesars Palace. Everyone dresses up in fancy clothes, the chefs walk a red carpet, and there are loads and loads (over 50) of award-winning chefs serving up food at their restaurant stands. The alcohol (and Fiji water) flows freely and apparently there’s always one person who falls into the pool every year. Not sure if it was accidental or on purpose, but this year I saw someone fall in! It was later in the night so maybe he was a bit tipsy?

I was tipsy off all of the food. This is the event to go to if you love miniature food things and are into tasting all of the things. There were live mermaids and the pool was gorgeously lit up and it was grand. This is also the event where you have the best chance of meeting a celebrity chef, if that’s your thing. We spotted Nobu, Ramsay, Giada, Morimoto, Buddy V, and Guy Savoy, to name a few. They usually mingle around a bit and take photos with everyone and are really, really friendly.

Be sure to pace yourself, there’s a lot of food. Those tiny dishes add up fast. Our game plan was walk around and scope out all of the stands, make mental notes on what looks absolutely must-eat, and then go back and eat it. The earlier you get in, the more ideal because there are less lines and there’s light so you can take photos of your food! It was a blast, not least of all because…we got to meet Gordon Ramsay!

Las Vegas Uncork'd Grand Tasting | www.iamafoodblog.com

Las Vegas Uncork'd Grand Tasting | www.iamafoodblog.com

Las Vegas Uncork'd Grand Tasting | www.iamafoodblog.com

Las Vegas Uncork'd Grand Tasting | www.iamafoodblog.com

Las Vegas Uncork'd | www.iamafoodblog.com

Gordon Ramsay

Chef Ramsay!!!! We happened upon him at the Grand Tasting while we were doing our walk around: he was right next to one of his many booths and there was a huge crowd and Mike said, look, “there’s Gordon!” There was a line for a quick photo op and of course we jumped in. I completely fangirled over him and Mike was completely embarrassed for me because yes, it was over the top. I have to say, Chef Ramsay has presence. I felt like he was larger than life. He took the time to shake everyone’s hand – he has a very firm grip – and look them deep in the eyes. The next day I had a mysterious bruise on my forearm and now the running joke is that Chef Ramsay bruised my arm.

All of the food he had at the tasting was amazing, especially the burgers, but the thing I kept going back for were the mini sticky toffee puddings. I love sticky toffee puddings and his was absolutely delicious.

Las Vegas Uncork'd Gordon Ramsay | www.iamafoodblog.com

Las Vegas Uncork'd Gordon Ramsay | www.iamafoodblog.com

Las Vegas Uncork'd Gordon Ramsay | www.iamafoodblog.com

Las Vegas Uncork'd Gordon Ramsay | www.iamafoodblog.com

The Dorsey

The Dorsey is a gorgeous bar in the Venetian, full of gold, velvet and a very extensive cocktail list. We were treated to a cocktail lesson from Juyoung Kang of The Dorsey and Evan Hosaka of Rosina. We got to hop behind the bar and make a Seasonal Fix with gin, lemon, blackberries, simple syrup, and light dusting of powdered sugar. I loved muddling the fruit – pro tip, you gently abuse it, not mash it – and doing the powdered sugar snow. They were also passing around sausage rolls and crispy spicy tuna rice and I just about ate a whole tray of both.

Las Vegas Uncork'd Dorsey | www.iamafoodblog.com

Las Vegas Uncork'd Dorsey | www.iamafoodblog.com

Las Vegas Uncork'd Dorsey | www.iamafoodblog.com

Crazy Shakes

Have you guys ever seen those crazy milkshakes with things on the glass and candy and cake sticking out of the top? You know, the Instagram viral, massive candy-topped milkshakes that you see everywhere? Well, they make some pretty crazy ones at Black Tap Burgers & Beer in the Venetian and we got to make our own. I’m an absolute sucker for making things so I was crazy (shake) excited to get behind the bar. My shake looked so good I got offered a job. Definitely going to do a post on how to make crazy shakes soon, so keep your eyes peeled. I already have so many ideas, like a cornflakes parfait shake and a matcha oreo cake shake!

Anyway, that was a just a little quick recap of what we’ve been doing. It was too good to not share and really, since the advent of the internet, what happens in Vegas, doesn’t really stay in Vegas anymore :)

Las Vegas Uncork'd Grand Tasting | www.iamafoodblog.com

3 Comments

  1. Kelsey says:

    This was so interesting! I apologize if this question is overstepping but I’d love to hear a little bit more about the costs for the various experiences you had. It sounds like you were able to choose various things ‘a la carte’ and not do like an all access pass thing. Thanks for sharing- glad you enjoyed it!!

    1. Stephanie says:

      not overstepping at all! we were invited but from what i can tell, the events start at $150 – you can definitely do things a la carte!

  2. Kristin says:

    wow! what an awesome experience. the food looks so good! i’m glad you had a blast!

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