Vegas Uncork’d Day 1 – The Gordon Ramsey experience

I happen to be a big Gordon Ramsay fan; not as big as the lady that painted a picture of him, flew in from Sweden just to be on the wish list for the VIP meet and greet, but a fan. I have cooked with his recipe for salmon en croute to perfection as well as others, read his book Humble Pie and can say that I have actually dined at his two unnamed mentors’ restaurants. I appreciate the humor; get the brand and he is the nicest person when we’ve met him. In conversation, my husband had a moment where Gordon gave him a very sincere thank you. Unfortunately, I am unable to share because I can’t give away all the secrets. What I will share is that the hospitality and courtesy for privacy in our home area, as well as a neighboring county is well appreciated. Not sure how long that will last with the paparazzi style generation, but it made me proud to know I live in such a loved space.

Pub Crawl & Danny Boy cocktails hit the spot for these whiskey fans!
Fish & Chips with Mushy Peas

There were actually a few event options to dine at a Gordon Ramsay establishment, but we casually dined upon arrival to Las Vegas at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill because we needed a travel weary cocktail and satiation. Besides, I had to see if the fish and chips could compare to my extended families. It is good, but going to the Highland Games in Northern California just screams to enjoy the best fish and chips at Taste of Britain. Sorry, I digress…must have a craving. We chose to have dinner at the new Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen Restaurant located at Caesar’s Palace. The event day had started with the Saber Off and a glass of prosecco. We enjoyed a few shopping hours and were ready for dinner. As we waited for the doors to open, we enjoyed conversation with other patrons discussing the event and what others had tried before. I loved the conversation as well as the building anticipation for what would be a fantastic experience.

Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Palace
Gin Cocktail greetings and the fantastic little touches like the little cards with show quotes.

As the doors opened everyone was greeted with a refreshing gin cocktail aptly named Notes From Gordon which consisted of gin, peach syrup, lemongrass, orgeat and peach soda, then the guests were guided towards a cocktail and hors d’oeuvre reception. The TV shows season 14 winner, Michelle Tribble and season 10s winner, Christina Wilson were a true joy to talk to. I really loved engaging in multiple conversations with them both throughout the evening about the show, their life now and of course amazing food. The array of hors d’oeuvres were perfect bites from avocado toast with heirloom radishes and sunflower seeds, beet cured salmon with golden beets and lemon creme fraiche, pepper-crusted watermelon with prosciutto and goat cheese, meatballs I devoured so fast I forgot to take notes on, arancini with the perfect kiss of truffle and a bounty of prawns and charcuterie. They were serving two cocktails that we had to partake in, for the name of research, however I failed as I have since lost my notes. I looked over at my husband and all the sudden my great grandmothers voice rang out of me as I told him we should walk away before we have no room for dinner. She did always comment on how I loved to just snack all day and not want to eat a full meal.

Avacado Toast with Heirloom Radishes & Sunflower Seeds
Beet Cured Salmon with Golden Beets & Lemon Creme Fraiche
Pepper-Crusted Watermelon with Prosciutto & Goat Cheese
Michelle Tribble on the left & Christina Wilson on the right
Arancini that I literally had to walk away from before I ate them all!

Kitchen views as the diners were being seated

The guests received their table numbers and started to zigzag towards the appropriate placements. Part of the entertainment for me at these types of events can usually include the conversations at the table. We sat with some local entertainment business owners and a couple that flew in just for this dinner. As we were seated, we decided another round of cocktails were in order and began to open the envelopes in front of us. The envelope contained the full recipe for Michelle Tribble’s pepper crusted watermelon, lemon goat cheese with cucumber coulis. The center contained an autographed photo of Michelle with Gordon Ramsay outside the restaurant and to the right lay the menu. I immediately spotted a local to me wine, Landmark chardonnay, that brought back that hometown love. During our dining experience Gordon mingled with the guests and we enjoyed the entertainment of randomly selected guests participating in the blind tasting challenge. I took a video as two ladies from our table participated and sent it to them to enjoy later. It was rather difficult to not laugh as I was taking photos during the commentary which occasionally made me laugh so hard, I was doubled over.

Golden beet salad with greek yogurt, kumquats, pistachio granola and white balsamic vinaigrette
Beef Wellington with potato puree, glazed vegetables and red wine demi-glace

Our first course was a golden beet salad including greek yogurt, kumquats, pistachio granola with white balsamic vinaigrette. It was a perfectly palate awakening and refreshing start to the richness that awaited us and I chose to pair it with the Landmark Winery chardonnay instead of the Justin Winery sauvignon blanc which I had enjoyed earlier. Both wines would have been perfectly paired depending on the flavors you wanted to enhance from the dish. I prefer to quiet the zing slightly. The main course of beef wellington with potato puree, glazed vegetables and red wine demi-glaze did not disappoint. In all fairness though I do not eat a lot of beef, but I am a sucker for a good beef wellington. I’ve enjoyed beef wellington done three ways for Christmas before and have become smitten with the individually wrapped wellingtons. I paired this with the Justin Winery cabernet sauvignon and though tasty I could’ve upped the game on that pairing if I had access to the fuller wine list. Swoon to the moon for this dish. The evening meal concluded with sticky toffee pudding that may have been tasted and then brought back to our room for breakfast because that’s how we roll on vacation. Let them eat dessert for breakfast! Honestly, we concluded the meal with a glass of cognac instead.

Sticky toffee pudding

We lingered to meet Gordon Ramsay and speak with him a little more and share our appreciation for a fantastic first impression meal as we began our Vegas Uncork’d experience. We later found ourselves in true Vegas fashion unready to turn in for the evening. On our way back to the room we stopped to enjoy a whiskey flight before tucking ourselves in to ready us for another day of delicious morsels and libations.

Next up Vegas Uncork’d Day 2 – The Grandest Tasting

Vegas Uncork’d

What is Vegas Uncork’d, you ask? I have been watching this event since it first began 12 years ago, just wishing, clicking my heels ferociously together in my mind and crossing my fingers. This food extravaganza is sponsored by Bon Appétit in partnership with Visit Las Vegas hosted by some well-known (also, some not as well known) chefs. The event did not disappoint last year when I finally got to attend. The offerings are varied so you could just attend the grand tasting, you could add a fun brunch, a fancy dinner or something with a little more theatrics. Traditionally May is just a difficult month for me to plan. It just seems that there is a lot of items that start dancing onto my calendar in advance, almost like the world is ready to push me into summer socializing early. This is also my favorite time outside of winter to travel, yet I had to block out May in advance just to ensure my dance card would be open.

The event appears to always be around Mother’s Day weekend (thank you Giada for the tip) so bring your mom, celebrate being a mother or tell your mom, “Sorry. I will make it up to you when I get back.” Each year there is a mix of varied lunches, brunches, dinners or occasionally after-hours excitement with beautifully plated food and spectacular libations. Vegas Uncork’d has a plethora of events to schedule from Thursday through Sunday so bring your appetite! The reason I first became interested in this event was because I do not get to travel much, I love to eat and drink my way through Las Vegas and I enjoy a great show. I saw great value in being able to dine at restaurants owned by world renowned chefs with locations in Las Vegas, Nevada. I got to mix this with the option to see great shows while I was on getaway and it seemed the perfect recipe for an over the top experience. I remember one year there was an option to have dinner with Wolf Gang Puck and be able to pick his brain in conversation. I was sad I was not able to schedule that year, but it wasn’t my time. I knew that when I finally attended, I would make the best of it and leave shy Brina at home. Call it, from bucket list to actualized bliss, if you will.

I will offer some pointers based on my first experience. Watch your timing! I chose to attend a brunch then a dinner in one day. I thought I would burst at the seams. I walked as much as humanly possible in between meals just to ensure I would have an appetite at all. I also was mindful to have picked a coursed dinner after a family style brunch to be aware of large portions at all meals. If you can handle anything or do not mind waste, go all out. Speaking of portion control, the grand tasting has probably a hundred or more vendors with some of the most beautiful, fun and enticing bites. Do not be afraid to take a bite, then sadly tossing the remainder. It’s not ideal, but no one wants to enjoy life to the fullest then feel miserable later…wait, it’s Vegas baby. Everything is to the max and past. I just err on the side of comfort, personally. I confess, most breakfast bites for my husband and I while on this vacation, were a bowl of fruit and a bottle of rose. One couple I spoke with had attended for 6 years, never missing an opportunity for a specific dinner and letting their friends know they would catch up to them later. So, if you go as a group, make sure it is enjoyable for everyone, dividing to fit your style is perfectly okay. This event is a blast! However you chose your schedule, I am sure you will enjoy yourself.

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Cameras OUT!
Saber Off success by Chef Masaharu Morimoto

I paid for this event in full and was not provided any extra sponsorship or privileges. Take a peek at this year’s event here:

Next: Vegas Uncork’d Day 1 – the Gordon Ramsay experience