Strip Scribbles: Three Las Vegas chefs guest star on Top Chef

Chef Alex Stratta of the Wynn.

The remaining chef-testants on Bravo’s Top Chef Las Vegas face the Culinary Olympics tonight. The challenge is based on the Bocuse d’Or, the prestigious global cooking competition founded by French chef Paul Bocuse. His son Jerome Bocuse, who is a regular Las Vegas visitor, will serve as a guest judge with Bocuse D’Or USA Chairman Daniel Boulud of the Wynn and chef Thomas Keller of The Venetian.

The Bocuse d’Or, founded in 1987, is regarded as the world’s pre-eminent competition that pits two-person teams of international chefs from 24 nations. It’s a five-hour-plus cooking challenge to produce two old school masterpiece platters, one of fish and one of meat, with a unique centerpiece and garnishes. It’s dubbed the Olympics of the restaurant industry because some participants train for years to compete.

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Robin Leach interviews chef Thomas Keller at his restaurant Bouchon in The Venetian.

The next Bocuse D’Or will be held in 2011, with Daniel and Thomas still looking for an entrant to represent America. The U.S. has never won a medal, but Timothy Hollingsworth of French Laundry (Thomas’ restaurant) placed sixth this year. The big challenge tonight is that the chefs will get only three minutes to devise the concept of fish and meat, whereas at Bocuse d’Or, it is three months after the judges reveal the proteins.

One of our other all-time favorite star chefs Alex Stratta is a guest on this tough assignment. Alex oversees two namesake restaurants at Steve Wynn’s resort casino Wynn: Alex for French contemporary and Stratta for rustic Italian fare.

After Robin Leventhal was ordered to pack her knives and leave on last week’s episode, we’re closer to the final showdown. That will be filmed on location in Napa Valley, and it’s looking more and more likely that the two Voltaggio brothers, Michael and Bryan, will face Kevin Gillespie in the final episode.

*Can it possibly be true? It was a surprisingly low opening bid for the shuttered and now bankrupt Fontainebleau resort, which will require an additional billion dollars or so to complete. Penn National’s official first offer for the nearly constructed casino resort was only $50 million, a far cry from the $2 billion-plus already spent and claimed by lien holders!

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Miss USA 2008 Crystle Stewart and Rain Andreani.

*It will be a night of glamour and fashion at the new Rain Cosmetics Boutique’s grand opening. The three-hour party being thrown by Vegas makeup queen Rain Andreani will feature free makeup applications and cosmetic gifts. Rain, who has made up celebrities such as Britney Spears, Mel B, Paris Hilton and others, heads the first Las Vegas cosmetics company, and this is her first retail boutique.

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Zowie Bowie's Marley Taylor and Chris Phillips at the grand opening of Wayne Newton's Once Before I Go at the Tropicana on Oct. 28, 2009.

*With some help from my friends Zowie Bowie, we will attempt to do justice to the traditional Japanese sake barrel opening tonight at the first anniversary of Sushi Samba in the Palazzo. The samba dancers’ ceremony also marks the 10th anniversary of the other Sushi Samba restaurants on the East Coast. After the cask is cracked and we’ve sipped the wonders of what’s inside, the public is invited for the launch of the new Saki-aoke nights at the restaurant’s Sugarcane lounge with Oprah Winfrey’s $250,000 karaoke winner Abraham McDonald.

*My pal agent to the stars Mike Esterman will be the celebrity speaker for a G2E Global Gaming Expo panel discussion tomorrow morning about the future of and proper strategy for creating celebrity events in casinos and nightclubs here. Joining him will be his clients Melissa Rivers and Melissa Biggs.

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Amber Smith at Hawaiian Tropic Zone in Planet Hollywood's Miracle Mile Shops.

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Fat Joe at Body English inside the Hard Rock Hotel.

Star surveillance

For the second time in three weeks, new Monte Carlo headliner Frank Caliendo returns to The Jay Leno Show tonight. Last time, he performed an array of impressions that’s wowing audiences at his new Strip show, but this evening he will impersonate Jay during the TV host’s signature “Jaywalking” segment. … Chelsea Handler had a packed crowd of more than 3,500 at The Colosseum in Caesars Palace for her standup. Before the show, she and an entourage of 23 friends dined at star chef Bradley Ogden’s self-named restaurant. Her beloved assistant Chuy Bravo was included. After the midnight performance, she played blackjack at the Pussycat Dolls Pit, then continued to Pure. … Model Amber Smith of VH1’s Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew hosted a party night at Hawaiian Tropic Zone in Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile. … Olympic gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps was spotted at a VIP dance floor table at XS in the Encore a few feet away from rapper Too Short, who also enjoyed a party night out with friends. … Rapper Fat Joe hung out with friends at Body English at the Hard Rock Hotel.

Tonight’s tips

It’s a night of World Extreme Cagefighting at The Pearl in the Palms. Mike Brown and Jose Aldo battle for the featherweight championship. Afterward, Mike, the No. 5 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, hosts at LAX in the Luxor. … Heavy metal rockers Mastodon and Dethklok are at the House of Blues in Mandalay Bay.

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A flier for WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown's after-fight party at LAX.

Tomorrow’s teases

Cher returns to Caesars Palace for her next run of shows, and she has new dances and gowns for the occasion. The all-new Rat Pack show with Sandy Hackett starts at the Sahara. Plus, Part 4 of our weeklong MGM CityCenter series as we peek into each one of the three amazing hotel properties: the ultra-luxurious Mandarin Oriental, the elegant no smoking, no gaming Vdara and the massive and lavish Aria.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter HERE.

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Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter HERE.


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