Vegas Uncork’d 2016: Grand Tasting (Las Vegas, NV)

Vegas Uncork’d Grand Tasting
Caesar’s Palace: Garden of the Gods
3570 S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 4/29/16

Grand Tasting

This past weekend marked the 10th annual Vegas Uncork’d event by Bon Appetit, a large event covering 24 individual events over four days. They spanned “Master Series’ dinners/luncheons, cooking and wine demos, and tasting affairs. I attended this year’s Grand Tasting, my fifth in a row (six total). The Grand Tasting featured dozens of restaurants and many more libations from wineries to spirits to handcrafted cocktails sprawled around Caesars Palace’s Garden of the Gods pool area.

There was no way to sample or even see everything at the all-you-can-eat/drink event, but I tried. Below is the recap of what I came across during the 2.5-3 hour event.

Grand Tasting

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Vegas Uncork’d 2015: Grand Tasting (Las Vegas, NV)

Vegas Uncork’d Grand Tasting
Caesar’s Palace: Garden of the Gods
3570 S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 4/24/15


This past weekend was Bon Appetit’s ninth annual Vegas Uncork’d. 23 separate events made up Uncork’d this year with chefs, mixologists and sommeliers coming from around the nation to Las Vegas to take part. There was plenty of variety spanning the festivities including fancy lunches and dinners, cooking demonstrations and seminars. The event I’ve gone to the past four years is the Grand Tasting, where dozens of chefs/restaurants serve up tastes of their food along with plenty more wine and other alcoholic options.

Each chef/restaurant had their own booth at Caesar’s Garden of the Gods pool area. All food and drink were included, unlimited, for the $225 price of admission.


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Aaron Franklin & Adam Perry Lang @ Nick’s Cafe (Los Angeles, CA)

Franklin BBQ and Adam Perry Lang Collaboration
Nick’s Cafe
1300 N Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dining date: 4/10/15


I was super excited to take part in this recent collaboration between Adam Perry Lang (cookbook author, restaurateur and overall BBQ/meat expert) and Aaron Franklin, one of the most well-known BBQ personalities in the nation. Franklin’s namesake restaurant opened in 2009 and has quickly risen to generally be regarded as one of the best BBQ restaurants in the country, most notably for its Texas brisket. The line to get into Austin’s Franklin Barbecue is multiple hours long. Every single day. Rave reviews have come from all over the country; even President Obama visited last year (supposedly the first to ever cut the line). This year, Franklin has been named one of the James Beard Award finalists for Best Chef: Southwest, the first “barbecue chef” to have this distinction.

Given only 80 orders were going to be served at 6pm this evening, I figured my chances of getting in were very slim. Surely people were gonna wait all day for this, I thought. However, when I heard the line at 3pm was only about 10 people deep, I decided to go for it. Arriving at 3:45, I was able to get a ticket! Shockingly, the 80 ticket quota wasn’t reached until sometime after 5:00.


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LA Food & Wine 2014: Live on Grand (Los Angeles, CA)

Live on Grand
Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival 2014
Grand Avenue between 1st and 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dining date: 8/23/14


This past weekend marked the fourth annual LA Food & Wine Festival; this year, it spanned almost 30 individual events over four days. Some of the standbys I’ve attended each year have been the large tasting format events; in my opinion, they’re the best way to access the most chefs and bites with one ticket. This year, I attended the daytime grand tastings as well as this evening event, Live on Grand. What separates this event from the others is a live performance at the end of the night (this year’s performer was Common) and a gorgeous backdrop of downtown LA. Grand Avenue, next to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, is shut down specifically for this event.


Dozens of chefs/restaurants lined the street serving up both savory and sweet bites. Of course, it’s all-you-can-eat/drink for the price of the ticket ($250 GA).

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Plate by Plate 2014 (Los Angeles, CA)

Plate by Plate 2014
Petersen Automotive Museum
6060 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Dining date: 8/2/14


This past weekend was Project by Project’s 12th annual tasting benefit – Plate by Plate. This was my third time attending the charitable event which benefits a rotating nonprofit partner; this year Pacific Asian Counseling Services (which provides counseling services to under-served populations) was the beneficiary. All net proceeds from the all-you-can-eat/drink event go straight to the partner.

Similar to prior years, Plate by Plate gathered a host of LA restaurants, mixologists, breweries and spirits for an indulgent evening. The venue this year was a slight change of pace from prior years, moving from downtown’s Vibiana to mid-city’s Petersen Automotive Museum. It still had a mix of indoor/outdoor space and I thought this location had more personality; patrons were able to browse the museum and soak up the history. Tickets this year ran $150 for GA and $250 for VIP, which provided access to additional purveyors and an hour earlier admission.



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Vegas Uncork’d 2014: Michael Mina’s Pig Roast and Beer Garden (Las Vegas, NV)

Vegas Uncork’d 2014: Michael Mina’s Pig Roast and Beer Garden
MGM Grand
3799 South Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 5/9/14


There was a lot of variety across the 31 events during this year’s Vegas Uncork’d. Of course there are the tasting events, cooking demos and exclusive sit-down meals, but this year stretched to cocktail demos, a golf event and even a night clubbing at Hakkasan. Somewhere in that spectrum was this event at the MGM Grand’s pool area, hosted by chef Michael Mina. Dubbed a pig roast and beer garden, it featured a whole roasted pig and BBQ favorites with a handful of side dishes prepared by Mina’s own Pub 1842. Heineken, Newcastle, Dos Equis, and Goose Island brought the beer while Don Julio, Grey Goose and Doña Paula winery completed the drink offerings. $125 purchased a ticket to the all-you-can-eat/drink event.


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