By Andrea Bennett | December 8, 2016 | Food & Drink
How to top last year? For Venetian's extravagant Ultimo, a virtual trip around the world!
“Oh, you know, just an intimate little dinner in the living room with friends...” is how you can Facebrag your Grand Banquet experience at Ultimo: Weekend of Excellence.
The first Grand Banquet of Ultimo: Weekend of Excellence, served along a table that spanned the length of Venetian’s Grand Colonnade, prompted a (rarely) awestruck Mario Batali to pronounce it “the grandest meal ever served in Las Vegas.” But that was 2013, a virtual millennium ago in the idea cycle of Venetian and Palazzo’s VP of food and beverage, Sebastien Silvestri, who conceived of the annual culinary weekend.
This year, Thomas Keller helms a global team of chefs presenting dishes that will both represent their specialties and hint at their countries of origin, in a dinner whose theme is Le Grand Voyage. The star lineup includes Keller representing the United States, Jérôme Bocuse for France, Paul Bartolotta for Italy, Vikram Vij for India, Pierre Thiam for Africa, Emma Bengtsson for Sweden, Curtis Stone and Shaun Hergatt for Australia, and Ming Tsai for Asia. Video mapping will transform the walls of Venetian’s hall, and tables will be bedecked in $2 million in Lalique glass flown in just for the occasion.
This is Keller’s second Ultimo; so does he agree with Batali’s assessment? “It’s pretty spectacular, probably in the top three for me,” he says. Other superlatives: rare pairings from Dom Pérignon, Daou Vineyards, Memento Mori, Pio Cesare, and Marqués de Murrieta. This year, packages entitle guests to a caviar reception in Paiza Club, a hot-air balloon trip, a Rolls-Royce driving experience, and a farewell Hacienda Tequila brunch with a $7,000 bottle served in Lalique. All for charity! “It goes to really worthy causes,” says Keller. “We’re benefiting Ment’or [which assists emerging culinary professionals] and Keep Memory Alive.” The highlight for Keller? Seeing guests “just over the moon.” December 9–11
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF THE VENETIAN AND THE PALAZZO