When you think back on last year’s inaugural Life Is Beautiful Festival, two things stand out: First, it ran incredibly smoothly. And second, the food was really, really good.
“No one was as shocked at how well it went than we were,” says chef Scott Conant, who you know as a judge on Chopped and as the pasta-loving celebrity chef behind Cosmopolitan restaurants Scarpetta and D.O.C.G. Conant participated in LIB in 2013 and is back this year, hosting a Chefs on Stage cooking demo.
“There was a lot of collaboration last year,” he says. “The way [LIB founder] Rehan [Choudry] and Bruce [Bromberg] brought everybody together really speaks to the event as a whole, and it was just fun. It wasn’t just a culinary event. The chefs really got caught up in it, all the elements involved and the sense of place and history in Downtown Las Vegas.”
Conant is expecting more of the same this year, and so should you—with a few tweaks here and there. Last year’s Culinary Village will be expanded by spreading throughout the festival footprint, and local and visiting chefs and restaurants will be serving food at the performance areas, replacing the standard hot dog/pizza slice vendors from last year.
Festival organizers would like to make Chefs on Stage a more prominent part of the weekend. This year’s focus for the live stage demonstrations—there will be four on October 24 and five on October 25 and 26—is all about what inspires chefs today. Among the showcasing chefs are Cat Cora, Spike Mendelsohn, Duff Goldman, Nancy Silverton and Jonathan Waxman, as well as locals Hubert Keller, Rick Moonen and Sam Marvin.
For former Wynn resident turned celeb chef (and former Weekly contributor) Jet Tila, LIB is a chance to check in with his Vegas peeps. “I’m definitely bringing the family and spending the whole weekend doing Life Is Beautiful, checking in on Kuma Snow Cream, which will be a vendor again this year, and I also gotta check out my LA friends at SLS,” Tila says. “We’re expecting to have a lot of fun again this year.”
It’ll also be a family affair at Chefs on Stage for Bryan Forgione. Currently cooking at Buddy V’s at Venetian, he’ll be teaming up with his brother, Iron Chef Marc Forgione, and their James Beard Award-winning father, Larry Forgione, for a demonstration. LIBgoers might have missed that kind of unique, interactive food experience last year, but true foodies will show up for this one.