Med à la mod! The Las Vegas Food & Wine Festival wraps up with a Sunday brunch at Mediterranean destination Cleo at SLS.
This September, the Las Vegas Food & Wine Festival invades SLS Las Vegas—no holds barred, and nothing is off limits.
That includes the valet area. “They’re going to have to park the cars somewhere else,” laughs Alan Semsar. “We’ll have the front drive all to ourselves, serving the best food around.” The CEO of Barcelona Enterprises has a long history of running culinary events in big cities. The festival, now in its seventh year, is one of his staples. “It’s bigger than ever,” says Semsar, who’s teaming up with Vegas for the four-day event. “We’ll be covering a lot of ground throughout the property.”
The Grand Tasting will wrap around the outdoor pool for two nights and extend toward the lobby, with food and drink stations showcasing not only the best restaurants in Vegas, but also some of the biggest names in the industry. José Andrés, Charlie Palmer, and François Payard are among the culinary masters taking part. “Being next to the Strip is good,” says Payard. “People in Vegas always like to be outside.” He notes that he’ll be watching Vegas temperatures before he commits to his outdoor desserts. Among the famed pastry chef’s contenders: macaron ice cream sandwiches, shots of cold coconut desserts, and hot and cold piña colada shots.
Andrés played a major role in bringing another culinary extravaganza, Dine-N-Dash, to SLS last year. “Many of my friends who are great chefs have opened restaurants in Las Vegas,” he says. “We’re seeing more people traveling to Vegas for these culinary experiences.”
Also on the festival’s can’t-miss list are after-parties at Foxtail, cooking demos, and an intimate multi-course dinner at Bazaar Meat, hosted by Andrés himself. The festival wraps with a Sunday brunch at chef Danny Elmaleh’s old-Hollywood-inflected Mediterranean restaurant, Cleo.
With hotels and casinos putting their resources behind elite restaurants and culinary events, Vegas has broad appeal for culinary festival goers. Payard says it’s hard to find such convenience in other food-driven cities. And, he notes, it pays for chefs to do their research here. “It’s good to check out the new restaurants [in Vegas]. You know why? Because they have so much power; when they want a new concept in a restaurant, they can make it work. I think Las Vegas is like going to New York City. What do you want to eat tonight? You want Japanese, Chinese, French, Italian? That’s the rhythm of the hotels. They’re all different.” Andrés expects plenty of, ahem, researchers this year. “When we held Dine-N-Dash at SLS, it was a great event. SLS is an amazing destination for people who love food, and I think this festival will draw a similar crowd.” September 15–18