Last night, UNLVino kicked off four days of world-class beverage tastings with Bubble-Licious at The Venetian. Legendary chef Thomas Keller of Bouchon was honored with the Dom Pérignon Award of Excellence for establishing a collection of restaurants that set a new paradigm within the hospitality industry as guests sipped under the stars to raise scholarship funds for UNLV hospitality students.
Accepting his award, Chef Keller said, “I can’t tell you how incredibly honored I am to be standing here tonight in front of all of you and the students of UNLV. The reason I’m standing here is because of them. We raise millions of dollars for the scholarship fund to help these students realize their dreams. I was able to realize my dreams because I had people surrounding me and supporting me throughout my life.” Offering his advice to the students, Keller hit on the importance of patience and persistence. “Whatever you’re doing, be patient. Take your time. Learn your skills. Learn your craft. And don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t do something. And whatever happens, continue to stay true to who you are, stay true to your goals, and believe me, you’ll be fine.”
The festivities continue tonight with Sake Fever at The Mirage honoring Chef Masaharu Morimoto (7 p.m. to 10 p.m.), Saturday’s Grand Tasting at Paris Las Vegas honoring restaurateur Elizabeth Blau (7 p.m. to 10 p.m.), and Sunday’s mixology-focused BAR-b-q at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health honoring MGM Grand president and COO Scott Sibella (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.). More information on each event is available at UNLVino.com and tickets are available at the door.
- The festivities commenced with Bubble-Licious’ signature “21 Cork Salute,” where 21 sommeliers from UNLV and Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada (SWS of NV) simultaneously popped corks off 21 bottles of Dom Pérignon champagne, signifying the start of UNLVino.
- Chef Keller, the evening’s honoree, personally served Pate de Campagne with pickled garden vegetables from Bouchon and provided cookies from Bouchon Bakery as a guest takeaway.
- Guests sampled more than 100 varieties of international champagnes, sparkling wines, wines and other specialty beverages, including Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label Brut, Moet + Chandon Imperial Brut, Luc Belaire Sparkling Rare Rose, Cupcake Prosecco, and many more.
- Guests enjoyed signature dishes from a collection of The Venetian’s celebrated restaurants including B&B Ristorante, Bouchon, Delmonico, Lagasse’s Stadium, Postrio Bar and Grill, Sushi Samba, Table 10 and Zine Noodles Dim Sum. Guest favorites included Chef Keller’s pate, a carpaccio of scallops created by the resort’s Executive Chef Olivier Dubreuil, and Postrio Bar and Grill’s Bavarian Bratwurst.
- SWS of NV Marketing & Events Director Michael Severino, SWS of NV Senior Managing Director Larry Ruvo, Keller’s longtime friend Robin Leach, UNLV’s William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration Dean Don Snyder and 25 UNLV hospitality students honored Chef Keller with the Dom Pérignon Award of Excellence.
- Larry Ruvo said, “Enormous celebrities and bon vivants from around the world want to come and taste this culinary genius’ food. And fortunate for us, Thomas Keller understands his roots and is a huge supporter of the Las Vegas community. Having Thomas Keller here is like bringing the rat pack back. He is a person that the culinary world identifies with an academy award, a celebrity. For us to have this culinary genius, this god-given talent in our city is incredible.”
- Don Snyder presented Chef Keller with a framed chef’s jacket signed by 25 UNLVino student managers. He said, “On behalf of UNLV, I couldn’t be more excited about Thomas Keller being recognized here tonight. This is a wonderful event, and for now 39 years, the partnership we have with Larry Ruvo and Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada comes together in evenings like this. Thomas, we’re really pleased to have you here tonight and for you to be our honoree.”
Photo credit: Tom Donoghue