The centerpiece of the annual Vegas Uncork’d food festival is the Grand Tasting, a gauntlet of temptations that can overwhelm even the most seasoned diner. Gorgeous plates from top kitchens call from every corner; wine glasses beckon; old friends and attractive strangers threaten to distract you from the task at hand. If you’re not prepared, the many-boothed menagerie can suck you into a vortex of overfed exhaustion and spit you out, sweaty, half-drunk and confused about what just went down.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Follow these rules, and you’ll rub elbows with the culinary elite, eat incredibly well and experience the very best of the Grand Tasting. (Tickets are still available!) Tomorrow’s hangover? That’s your problem.
Rule 1. Park elsewhere. You’ve paid $225 to attend this swanky little shindig, so why not enjoy it—all of it. The party draws around 2,500 guests and turns the Caesars parking garage into an angry maze filled with hungry people who will stiletto you over that spot that just opened up. Save yourself the frustration and park anywhere else. Less time driving in circles = more time eating.
Rule 2. Wear appropriate footwear. Vegas veterans know: Your enjoyment of any event is closely correlated to your level of comfort. Spend the night hobbling around in 4-inch heels, and you’ll be less motivated to go the extra mile for Andre’s oxtail cannelloni or Guy’s artichoke and black truffle soup. If you insist on wearing skyscrapers, at least pack a pair of flip-flops for the moment when you realize we’re right.
Rule 3. And waistbands. This is a food festival, so the one-size-too-small suit you’re contemplating is a bad choice. So is the dress that only looks good when you hold your breath. Give yourself some breathing room. No, eating room.
Rule 4. Make a game plan. The spread at the Grand Tasting is truly overwhelming, so take a moment when you arrive to digest the layout and pick your must-eats. Sometimes the best booths end up hidden away at smaller side pools; don’t miss out because you skipped studying the map.
Rule 5. Don’t clear your plate. When food is this good, it’s tempting to follow your mom’s rule and finish every last bite. Resist. If you make that slider (and the next one, and the next one) disappear completely, you’ll have no room for the charcoal-grilled pork cheek or oxtail eggs Benedict (not to mention dessert). Share the larger portions and you’ll end up tasting more by night’s end.
Rule 6. Bask in it. Whether you follow our advice or not (seriously, though, park somewhere else), the Vegas Uncork’d Grand Tasting is just that: grand. So overindulge. Chat up a celebrity chef. Have one too many glasses of cabernet. And when you wake up on Saturday feeling bloated and headachy, don’t even bother complaining. No one will feel bad for you after a night like that.