Robin Leach

Counter Intelligence: L.A. Food and Wine, Sushi Samba and Four Seasons

Francois Payard, Wolfgang Puck and Robin Leach.
Photo: Brian Jones/Las Vegas News Bureau

Spago 20th Anniversary Lunch

Sushi Samba in London

Joe Bastianich and chef Mario Batali at Mario Batali's farmers market Bet on the Farm in the Palazzo.

Joe Bastianich and chef Mario Batali at Mario Batali's farmers market Bet on the Farm in the Palazzo.

Hot off the grill! A four-day culinary festival organized by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck starts today in L.A., and many of our Strip chefs are making the I-15 trek to join the epicurean elite. L.A. Food and Wine continues Wolf’s 30 years of similar benefits for his favorite charity Meals on Wheels.

Among the Las Vegas kings and queens of the kitchen participating: Joachim Splichal from Patina and Thomas Keller from Bouchon, both at the Venetian; Hubert Keller from Fleur and Susan Feniger from Border Grill, both at Mandalay Bay; Scott Conant from the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas; plus, former Social House sushi star Joseph Elevado, now at Livello in L’Ermitage in Beverly Hills.

All of Wolf’s Las Vegas chefs from his seven restaurants and catering company here also are participating. Last year’s event raised $400,000 for Meals on Wheels and added $4.9 million to the L.A. economy, according to Wolf.

SUSHI SAMBA EXPANDS: Owners of the hot, hip Sushi Samba in the Palazzo have opened their first overseas outpost, and we have the first photos from the London location. Matt Johnson tells me that reaction to the Latin-Japanese cuisine -- a first in the British capital -- has been phenomenal, with people still waiting in line after three nightly table turns.

Sushi Samba chef John Um will teach the art of sushi making as part of the Venetian and Palazzo’s Carnevale celebrations tonight. On Friday, the chefs hosting will be Tom Maloney from Aquaknox with an oyster shoot and Michael Armstrong from Tao and Massimiliano Campanari and Marc Marrone from Lavo.

On Saturday, celebrity restaurateur and winemaker Joe Bastianich will sign copies of his New York Times-bestselling memoir “Restaurant Man” at a wine tasting before he hosts a five-course wine dinner at his restaurant Carnevino.

FOUR SEASONS RENOVATION: The Four Seasons Hotel at Mandalay Bay promises that a total renovation of all 424 guest rooms and suites will be completed by Dec. 17 in time to ring in the New Year. The project was inspired in part by Art Deco resulting in chic interiors that are stylish, modern and reflective of Las Vegas’ glamour and energy.

Four Seasons’ guest rooms and suites are located on floors 35-39 of the Mandalay Bay tower, offering sweeping views of the Strip and desert through floor-to ceiling windows. The hotel has added multimedia hubs on all televisions and convenience outlets in lamp bases to allow easy charging of multiple personal media devices; backlit mirrors in all bathrooms; and custom-designed faucet sets and frameless glass showers with marble flooring and vanity tops.

As reported Wednesday, Mandalay Bay also is converting its adjoining The Hotel into the Delano next year.

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.

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