BYTE TOUR: Oh Vegas, we meet again you saucy Bitch!
So I just got back from Vegas on Sunday from doing my very first cooking demo at the BlogWorld Expo 10. The extremely brilliant Babette Pepaj from bakespace.com invited me. That woman is a ROCKSTAR I have NO idea how she does it ALL?
Anywho, I was paired up with Top Chef DC Cheftestant & Executive Chef of Michael Mina’s Seablue restaurant at the MGM Grand Chef Stephen Hopcraft, we did his Paella recipe & first off let me say.. for a Gringo that man makes a epic Paella *swoon*. Driving back to Vegas all this time after I had the revelation that I wanted to pursue food full time, if you are new to this blog & aren’t aware of my story & have absolutely NOTHING to do with the rest of your life but to read that damn dissertation I wrote, you can catch up here… HA! I was a little nervous to have my first demo with a Chef I didn’t know but I was also so stoked to have my first demo in the place that started it all… Vegas BABY!
Our demo was PACKED before I knew it, it was standing room only in the FAB Jenn-Air sponsored kitchen. If you haven’t seen the beast of a job Jenn Air has been doing lately you HAVE to check out their site…. out of HAND! The amount of PCO90210 fans there was astounding. People REALLY dig our show. It was so fantastic to share a stage with a person who really understood my journey & what it’s like to cook on TV. There was no competing for who gets to speak or any kind of one up-manship, we really dug each other & enjoyed sharing our story to a room filled with intrigue of what the both of us had to share on our experience. I wish that guy the BEST & honestly can’t imagine a better person to guide me in my first demo, LOVE that Man!!!
After the demo he asked me what I was doing & I told him I HAD to go to Joël Robuchon, he introduced me to Debbie Ngai & she told me when I get there to ask for Emmanuel. I was done with the demo at 2:30 & headed STRAIGHT to L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at the MGM… here’s the catch. They didn’t open til 5:15 & I was invited to a Chef Tasting at Yellowtail in the Bellagio at 7:15 & was star-VING!
Gambling’s not my thing… I see no sense in wasting good shoe, travel or condo money for kicks especially since the house ALWAYS wins but my mouth was gambling with my heart on how I’ll be able to have BOTH! Now I’m no idiot if Joël Robuchon is known for anything they’re known for their mashed potatoes so I decided to ride out the 2 hour wait JUST so I can try them. The hostess let me cruise around the stun-NING uber chic & super you need to have David Zuckerberg type of money to go to Joël Robuchon Restaurant next door. That’s exactly how I want my dining room to look, the decor was just BEYOND words absolutely breath taking, oh I had a stiff one the minute I walked in there thinking damn, all of my senses are about to be WOWED!!!
When 5:15 hit Diana & I were escorted to our seats at L’Atelier. Equally sexy as it’s fashionable sister next door all decked out in sassy red & black we were greeted by our server Paul.
We sat at the bar so I really had a up close look at all the Chefs in their snazzy Black coats with the red seams surrounded by Staub cocottes & the best of the best ingredients. I was gobsmacked of how tranquil this kitchen seemed. All of the kitchens I’ve ever seen are chaotic, especially mine but there was something zen about all these young & beautiful Chefs carefully cutting & plating walking over to each other’s station admiring what their peer had done. I turned to Paul & aid “you’re so lucky to work here”. The ability to learn & grow there is just endless to say that I was impressed is an understatement, I can say that I was inspired. Every breath I took in there felt calculated as if I was trying to breath that entire space into me so when I cook I’m in that same zen space… gosh did that even make sense? Either way I was riveted.
Emmanuel walked over to greet us & said “hello Manouschka”… car screech…. “ummmmmm how do you know my name?” I said. Emmanuel in a very cute French way (not the cocky kind *snort*) said “I know everything, we’ve been expecting you”… how I didn’t crap myself at Joël Robuchon’s is a MIRACLE! The 3 of us spoke extensively of what a magical place it was & he was kind enough to share with us many of Monsieur Robouchon’s principles & were fine with the fact that we had a limited time to experience the food there. I really didn’t want to let down the Chef at the Yellowtail that was expecting us, so Diana & I just ordered the potatoes. One plain & one with truffle & chives. Yea it was psuedo ghetto but I was NOT leaving Vegas without at least trying it! Paul brought over & amuse bouche & as if I wasn’t enjoying the conversations with Paul, Emmanuel, the Sommelier & the decor porn enough they had to go ahead & do it… they did it… they did the unthinkable, they served me Foie Gras, a food that I really can’t stand & I LOVED it, I almost licked the tagine it was so ding dang good! The potatoes of course, were mind blowing!!!!
I walked over & picked up a cookbook & Diana & I delicately flipped through every page as if it were the holy grail & Paul came back & said “Chef Manouschka, Emmanuel said that is a gift from him to you & so is your dinner” & we can stay there instead of going to Yellowtail…. yeah I cried. I’m a sap like that. Needless to say I’ve spent a MAJORITY of this entry talking about my experience there & all I had was mashed potatoes & foie gras… that’s how SPECTACULAR it was & I can’t thank them enough for giving Diana & I one of the top Foodie experiences of our lives. I have the book by my bed, I will treasure that experience FOREVER!
After floating out of there of course we were late as all get out to the Chef tasting at The Bellagio… which I SWEAR on the way there Di & I got lost & I think we smelled a dead body out there in the desert… terrible! I was so wound up I was like great the 2 Black girls are late hahahahaha but then in walked Jeff Houck from the Tampa Tribune. Babette got up from the head of the 55 person seated table & was like there’s no more room… I was like… Babette I just left L’Atelier for this, I’ll sit on the floor if I HAVE to, hahaha. The waiter’s kindly obliged & although Diana, Jeff & I didn’t have a table they grabbed us chairs & we sat near the balcony in front of the Bellagio’s infamous water show. We had such a blast at our make shift kids table! The sake was flowing, we fed each other great sushi, laughed our butts off & reveled at the brilliance at the head of the table that is Babette Pepaj. You see, she was in charge of the Techmunch, the food track, seriously the most successful aspect of that entire BlogWorld experience. The dinner was to celebrate all those that came & I was totally geeking out sharing the table with these Blogging/Internet Goddesses I have admired for SO long. I met Niche, from Cupcakes take the Cake at the Paella demo but I was STILL giddy as a school girl to be able to hang with her. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve licked my computer screen reading that blog. Also at the table was Jaden Hair, of Steamy Kitchen & the incomparable Nadia G from Bitchin’ Kitchen, two… well I believe … of the most influential self made kitchen Mavens out there & destined to helm insane empires. Nadia’s show is on Wednesday nights at 10:30 pm EST on The Cooking Channel…. if you haven’t seen it yet, get ready to be KICKED IN THE FACE by so much of her AWESOMENESS! She REALLY understands the game & if Julia Child is watching, she’s beaming with delight. This one woman marvel is hipping a whole new audience to the game & bringing folks BACK where they belong… in the kitchen. Wow, I freaking LOVE that Chick.
All in all I got to go back to where I was reborn, Vegas baby… that saucy little bitch. I got to do a killer demo with a RAD Chef, meet HEAPS of Private Chefs of Beverly Hills fans, eat & the hands down greatest food experience restaurant in the world, break bread with some of the people that inspired me the most, watch a dear friend & mentor Babette shine like the bright star that she is & share it all with a good friend. I am INVIGORATED. I hope this ride NEVER ends. NMRK