Show 234, July 29, 2017: Journalist Al Mancini, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Al ManciniJournalist Al Mancini is well-known in Las Vegas hospitality circles. He’s been reviewing restaurants there for over 15 years. In 2011 he co-created the first edition of the definitive Las Vegas dining guideEating Las Vegas – The 50 Essential Restaurants. Late last year he joined the Las Vegas Review-Journal as a staff writer primarily covering the food, restaurant and libations beat.

We’ll chat with Al about the rise of Downtown Las Vegas as a dining destination and also get updated on other local foodie news of note.

One of Al’s picks for Downtown Las Vegas dining is The Carson Kitchen. It’s actually expanding. It’s something of a homage to its founding chef/owner, the late Kerry Simon.

Al is also a brunch fan. Right before his “SoCal Restaurant Show” interview he was at the newly expanded Ping Pang Pong in The Gold Coast enjoying their highly regarded dim sum. On Friday he was brunching at Sugarcane located on The Strip at The Venetian. Al points out that it’s one of the few spots in Las Vegas with a Weekday brunch option.

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Show 234, July 29, 2017: Journalist Al Mancini, Las Vegas Review-Journal Continues…

Al ManciniJournalist Al Mancini is well-known in Las Vegas hospitality circles. He’s been reviewing restaurants there for over 15 years. In 2011 he co-created the first edition of the definitive Las Vegas dining guideEating Las Vegas – The 50 Essential Restaurants. Late last year he joined the Las Vegas Review-Journal as a staff writer primarily covering the food, restaurant and libations beat.

We resume our insider’s chat with Al about Vegas foodie news of note. We finish our Downtown update with Al’s profile of the Downtown Container Park. It has a giant Praying Mantis at the entrance that periodically shoots fire out of its mouth. Only is Las Vegas…For food (and a view) he suggests The Perch located on the top corner of the complex.

Look for Al’s new weekly column in the Review-Journal highlighting worthwhile Downtown events, including food.

Al shares his thoughts on the arrival of culinary celebrity David Chang’s Momofuku (and Milk Bar) at The Cosmopolitan. Momofuku will soon launch in Los Angeles.

 

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Show 224, May 20, 2017: Show Preview with Co-Host Andy Harris

Now a tempting preview of this Saturday’s drool-worthy show. It’s not, with profuse apologies, for dieters. If we’re successful we will always leave you incredibly hungry and thirsty. In our case that’s probably a pretty good thing…

From perhaps the foremost authority on vegetarian cooking and one of the most trusted voices in food comes a carefully curated and updated collection of 100 favorite and most inspired recipes, reflecting how Deborah Madison loves to cook now. Her new book is In My Kitchen – A Collection of New and Favorite Vegetarian Recipes. We grab Deborah from her New Mexico garden for a chat.

In 1981, Ron and Diane Miller established Silverado Vineyards to make wine from the six historic vineyards of their estate. Napa pioneers first planted these ranches to vines between 1865 and 1895. Silverado Vineyards long-time President and General Manager, Russ Weis, is our guest.

Journalist Al Mancini is well-known in Las Vegas hospitality circles. He’s been reviewing restaurants there for over 15 years. In 2011 he co-created the definitive Las Vegas dining guideEating Las Vegas – The 50 Essential Restaurants. He recently joined the Las Vegas Review-Journal as a staff writer primarily covering the food, restaurant and libations beat. We’ll meet him.

Executive Chef Eric Samaniego (ex-Little Sparrow) is hosting an unusual 5-course collaboration dinner with Taco Maria’s (SoCo in Costa Mesa) acclaimed chef/proprietor Carlos Salgado on May 24th at Michael’s on Naples in Long Beach. This is part of Michael’s on Naples ongoing monthly “Guest Chef’ing” series. Chef Samaniego joins us for an enticing preview.

Co-host Andy Harris has an arresting airline main cabin food story to share. It’s just for laughs…Frustration and bewilderment with the lack of planning only goes so far! Other food news of note, too, as time permits.

All of this and generous heaping helpings of extra deliciousness on this week’s show!

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Show 224, May 20, 2017: Al Mancini, Staff Writer, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Al ManciniJournalist Al Mancini is well-known in Las Vegas hospitality circles and beyond. He’s been reviewing restaurants there for over 15 years. In 2011 he co-created the definitive Las Vegas dining guideEating Las Vegas – The 50 Essential Restaurants. He recently joined the Las Vegas Review-Journal as a staff writer primarily covering the food, restaurant and libations beat. We’ll meet him>.

Al discovered his passion for food while living in New York City, where he attended law school by day, tended bar and made pizza at the infamous punk club CBGB by night, and explored the Big Apple’s dynamic dining scene during every spare moment in between.

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Show 224, May 20, 2017: Al Mancini, Staff Writer, Las Vegas Review-Journal Continues…

Al ManciniJournalist Al Mancini is well-known in Las Vegas hospitality circles and beyond. He’s been reviewing restaurants there for over 15 years. In 2011 he co-created the definitive Las Vegas dining guideEating Las Vegas – The 50 Essential Restaurants. He recently joined the Las Vegas Review-Journal as a staff writer primarily covering the food, restaurant and libations beat.

We resume the conversation with the delightfully opinionated Al Mancini.

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May 20: Deborah Madison, Silverado Vineyards, Al Mancini, Eric Samaniego, Carlos Salgado

Podcasts

Segment One: Show Preview with Co-Host Andy Harris
Segment Two: Deborah Madison, Icon of Vegetarian Cuisine Part One
Segment Three: Deborah Madison, Icon of Vegetarian Cuisine Part Two
Segment Four: Russ Weis, President & General Manager, Silverado Vineyards
Segment Five: Al Mancini, Staff Writer, Las Vegas Review-Journal Part One
Segment Six: Al Mancini is a Staff Writer at the Las Vegas Review-Journal Part Two
Segment Seven: Eric Samaniego, Executive Chef, Michael’s on Naples, Long Beach
Segment Eight: Co-Host Andy Harris with an airline food story…

Now a tempting preview of this Saturday’s drool-worthy show. It’s not, with profuse apologies, for dieters. If we’re successful we will always leave you incredibly hungry and thirsty. In our case that’s probably a pretty good thing…

From perhaps the foremost authority on vegetarian cooking and one of the most trusted voices in food comes a carefully curated and updated collection of 100 favorite and most inspired recipes, reflecting how Deborah Madison loves to cook now. Her new book is In My Kitchen – A Collection of New and Favorite Vegetarian Recipes. We grab Deborah from her New Mexico garden for a chat.

In 1981, Ron and Diane Miller established Silverado Vineyards to make wine from the six historic vineyards of their estate. Napa pioneers first planted these ranches to vines between 1865 and 1895. Silverado Vineyards long-time President and General Manager, Russ Weis, is our guest.

Journalist Al Mancini is well-known in Las Vegas hospitality circles. He’s been reviewing restaurants there for over 15 years. In 2011 he co-created the definitive Las Vegas dining guide – Eating Las Vegas – The 50 Essential Restaurants. He recently joined the Las Vegas Review-Journal as a staff writer primarily covering the food, restaurant and libations beat. We’ll meet him.

Executive Chef Eric Samaniego (ex-Little Sparrow) is hosting an unusual 5-course collaboration dinner with Taco Maria’s (SoCo in Costa Mesa) acclaimed chef/proprietor Carlos Salgado on May 24th at Michael’s on Naples in Long Beach. This is part of Michael’s on Naples ongoing monthly “Guest Chef’ing” series. Chefs Samaniego and Salgado join us for an enticing preview.

Co-host Andy Harris has an airline main cabin food story to share. It’s just for laughs…Frustration and bewilderment with the lack of planning only goes so far! Other food news of note, too, as time permits.

Deborah MadisonFrom perhaps the foremost authority on vegetarian cooking and one of the most trusted voices in food comes a carefully curated and updated collection of 100 favorite and most inspired recipes, reflecting how Deborah Madison loves to cook now. Her new book is In My Kitchen – A Collection of New and Favorite Vegetarian Recipes.

Deborah Madison’s newest book shares 100 beloved and innovative recipes from her vast repertoire, all pared down to the key ingredients needed to achieve delicious, nuanced flavor, with simplified preparations.

In My Kitchen is a vegetable-forward cookbook organized alphabetically and featuring recipes like Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Sunflower Sprouts; Fennel Shaved with Tarragon and Walnuts; and Olive Oil, Almond, and Blood Orange Cake. With dozens of tips for building onto, scaling back, and creating menus around, Deborah’s recipes have a modular quality that makes them particularly easy to use.

Deborah Madison, the founding chef of San Francisco’s popular Greens restaurant, is the author of nine highly regarded cookbooks. Deborah Madison’s The Savory Way, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and Local Flavors have all received James Beard Foundation Awards.

A cooking teacher for two decades, a contributor to many magazines, and long involved in the local food and farming movement, Madison is the recipient of many other awards, including the MFK Fisher Mid-Career Award.

We grab Deborah from her New Mexico garden for a chat.

In My Kitchen is Deborah’s most personal cookbook. It takes you inside her home, reflecting how she cooks and eats today – with sophisticated and layered recipes that have been pared down and perfected after years of refinement. The more than one hundred recipes included here showcase Deborah’s style of carefully considered, forgiving, and endlessly adaptable recipes – perfect as they are, but also ripe for modification and improvisation.

Russ WeisIn 1981, Ron and Diane Miller established Silverado Vineyards to make wine from the six historic vineyards of their estate. Napa pioneers first planted these ranches to vines between 1865 and 1895.

Each vineyard played an important role in establishing the reputation of their growing area : Carneros, Coombsville, Yountville, Soda Creek Canyon and Stags Leap District. The beautiful fruit from these six vineyards is the exclusive source of Silverado Vineyards’ Estate and Single Vineyard wines – the Miller family’s highest expression of the Napa Valley they love and admire.

“The beginning of vine planting is like the beginning of mining for precious metals: the winegrower also ‘prospects’.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson,
The Silverado Squatters, 1880

A century later, the Miller family began the journey Stevenson described, establishing Silverado Vineyards in 1981. “It was beautiful land, and it was land that was working,” observed the late Diane Miller of their first vineyards, purchased in the 1970s. Diane and Ron sold their grapes to some of Napa’s best vintners, who made award winning wines from them year after year. Encouraged, they struck out on their own with the goal of making the best wines the estate could produce at a fair price. This has remained the guiding philosophy over the years.

The winery’s name, Silverado, comes from the abandoned mining town at the top of the Napa Valley, where Stevenson stayed so many years ago. It is an appropriate symbol: three generations of the Miller family are still “prospecting” for wine, staying true to the idea of coaxing something precious from the soils we are privileged to care for.

Silverado Vineyards long-time President and General Manager, Russ Weis, is our guest.

Al ManciniJournalist Al Mancini is well-known in Las Vegas hospitality circles and beyond. He’s been reviewing restaurants there for over 15 years. In 2011 he co-created the definitive Las Vegas dining guideEating Las Vegas – The 50 Essential Restaurants. He recently joined the Las Vegas Review-Journal as a staff writer primarily covering the food, restaurant and libations beat. We’ll meet him>.

Al discovered his passion for food while living in New York City, where he attended law school by day, tended bar and made pizza at the infamous punk club CBGB by night, and explored the Big Apple’s dynamic dining scene during every spare moment in between.

Eric SamaniegoExecutive Chef Eric Samaniego (ex-Little Sparrow) is hosting an unusual 5-course collaboration dinner with Taco Maria’s (SoCo in Costa Mesa) acclaimed chef/proprietor Carlos Salgado on May 24th at Michael’s on Naples in Long Beach. This is part of Michael’s on Naples ongoing monthly “Guest Chef’ing” series.

Among the many accomplishments of Chef Salgado is being named one of Food & Wine’s Best Chefs of 2015. Taco Maria is known for Alta California cuisine, an intriguing fusion of Mexican and American flavors and cultures.

Chef Samaniego never reveals in advance what he and his guest chef will prepare simply because he’s not quite sure himself.  The evening tends to be spontaneous, much like going to a friend’s home for dinner and leaving the menu up to the host. Both chefs will shop the local farmers’ markets and visit Farm Lot 59, the local urban farm, for ingredients just days before, which will drive the creativity of their five-course dinner.

“I really like collaborating with other chefs,” said Samaniego.  “I love to try new techniques and experiment with new ideas in the kitchen. It’s even more fun when you’re cooking with someone you have tremendous respect for and consider a friend.  I’m looking forward to having Chef Salgado join me on May 24.”

Chefs Samaniego and Salgado join us for an enticing preview.

Collier Cook of Santa Catalina Island Company and Andy HarrisCo-host Andy Harris has an airline main cabin food story to share. It’s just for laughs…Frustration and bewilderment with the lack of planning on the part of a major air carrier only goes so far! Other fresh food news of note, too, as time permits.

Podcasts

Segment One: Show Preview with Co-Host Andy Harris
Segment Two: Deborah Madison, Icon of Vegetarian Cuisine Part One
Segment Three: Deborah Madison, Icon of Vegetarian Cuisine Part Two
Segment Four: Russ Weis, President & General Manager, Silverado Vineyards
Segment Five: Al Mancini, Staff Writer, Las Vegas Review-Journal Part One
Segment Six: Al Mancini is a Staff Writer at the Las Vegas Review-Journal Part Two
Segment Seven: Eric Samaniego, Executive Chef, Michael’s on Naples, Long Beach
Segment Eight: Co-Host Andy Harris with an airline food story…

Show 58, January 25, 2013: Al Mancini, Las Vegas-based food journalist and co-author of Eating Las Vegas guidebook for 2011, 2012, and 2013

Max JacobsonMax Jacobson is a serious food journalist who relocated to Las Vegas from Southern California in 1999 to cover the burgeoning dining scene there. Southern Californians remember his coverage of the Orange County dining scene for The Los Angeles Times. He is currently Vegas Seven’s restaurant critic. His colleagues have great respect for him.

Two days before Christmas 2013, Jacobson was struck by a hit-and-run driver while he was in a crosswalk. He sustained severe brain trauma from the accident. He remains hospitalized in serious condition and his prognosis is uncertain.

Chefs to the Max benefit for Max Jacobson at RX Boiler RoomIn true hospitality industry fashion a group of prominent, celebrity chefs have joined together to launch the Chefs to the Max fundraising series to assist with Max Jacobson’s horrendous medical expenses.

The first dinner was January 19th at Chef Rick Moonen’s Rx Boiler Room at Mandalay Place on the Las Vegas Strip. The evening raised an impressive $275,799.

Fellow Las Vegas-based food journalist, Al Mancini, joins us to talk about the Chefs to the Max benefits and working with Max. Al and Max collaborated (with a third Las Vegas-based restaurant writer) on the three editions of the very popular Las Vegas dining guidebook series, Eating Las Vegas.

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January 25: South Coast Collection, Carla Hall, Roger Havot, Sanford D’Amoto, Chefs to the Max

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Anais Tangie, Marketing Coordinator, SoCo and The Mix
Segment Three: Chef Carla Hall, ABC’s “The Chew,” “Bravo’s “Top Chef ,” and Carla Hall Petit Cookies
Segment Four: Roger Hayot, Executive Chef, J. Nichols Kitchen Part One
Segment Five: Roger Hayot, Executive Chef, J. Nichols Kitchen Part Two
Segment Six: Sanford D’Amato, founder and former Executive Chef of the award-winning Sanford restaurant, Milwaukee, WI
Segment Seven: Al Mancini, Las Vegas-based food journalist and co-author of Eating Las Vegas guidebook for 2011, 2012, and 2013
Segment Eight: Chef Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris of “SoCal Restaurant Show”

Chef Jet and Producer Andy preview the show.

Chef jet Tila and Alton BrownFood Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” with host Alton Brown is back on Sunday nights for Season 2. Our own Chef Jet Tila is the most frequently appearing solo judge on this tough competition show that requires strategy as well as cooking chops. Look for Jet’s new episodes starting in February.

On Friday morning, January 31st catch Chef Jet on NBC’s “Today Show” in the 9:00 a.m. hour PST. He’s sharing his recipe for Peking Duck Sliders for Chinese New Year and The Big Game!

ABC’s “The Chew’s,” Carla Hall, is back with us talking about the very special Culinary Concert she is doing at Zov’s Bistro in Tustin on Sunday, February 9th to benefit the scholarship fund of The James Beard Foundation. “Hootie Hoo”…You’ll meet Sandy D’Amato, a kid from Milwaukee, who grew up to become one of the most outstanding chefs in America. Chef Roger Hayot joins us. You may not know his name but you really should. In the 90s Chef Roger had one of the most acclaimed restaurants in L.A. Now he’s quietly making waves again at a hidden gem of a neighborhood place in Marina del Rey.

All of that and lots more incredible deliciousness on the “SoCal Restaurant Show.”

The first Saturday of last October we were live at South Coast Collection (SoCo) and The Mix in Costa Mesa for the first Patchwork Show: Edible Edition.

Anais TangieWe showcased the growing collection of outstanding boutique food businesses and restaurants there. The SoCo and Mix’s Marketing Coordinator, Anais Tangie, joins us to talk about the new additions and what’s soon on the way. Think handcrafted artisanal chocolates and also a one-of-kind cocktail education and tools-of-the-trade store owned by a master bartender…

Carla HallFood fans know Chef Carla Hall as the “Hootie Hoo” lady and fan favorite from multiple seasons of Bravo’s “Top Chef.” She is now the co-host of ABC’s daytime lifestyle series, “The Chew.” Last month “The Chew” celebrated their 500th episode and the show continues to gain in popularity. Carla also is the author of Cooking with Love: Comfort Food That Hugs You, newly available in paperback.

Carla is being honored by Zov Karamardian of Zov’s Bistro in Tustin at her Culinary Concert to benefit the James Beard Foundation on Sunday, February 9th.

That Sunday Carla and Zov will conduct a highly entertaining, interactive cooking class for the guests followed by a lavish lunch. Carla will be available to sign copies of her book and interact with the guests. It all starts at Noon.

Pastry Chef to the Stars and a multiple James Beard Award-winner, Sherry Yard, is the celebrity MC.

For more info and to make reservations please call 714.838.8855 ext. 21

Carla is represented in Saveur’s 100 which is the current January/February issue. Item 13 on the list is Carla’s suggestion of Lemon Olive Oil.

Roger Hayot of J. Nichols KitchenIn 1987 the Authentic Café opened on Beverly Blvd. near CBS’s Television City in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles. It was the inspiration of Chef Roger Hayot who was mentored by his prior employer, David Overton, the creator of The Cheesecake Factory. It was initially a small place and from Day 1 they had lines of patient guests out the door…Eventually they expanded into the space next-door to accommodate the strong demand.

Roger’s always intriguing menu was inspired by the cuisines of the American Southwest, Latin America, Asia, and the Mediterranean. He used authentic global ingredients which was unusual at the time. Thai fish sauce was one of his regular ingredients. The exotic appeal of his cooking was always balanced by its hominess.

He had the honor of cooking at The James Beard Foundation in New York.

There is a new chapter to Chef Roger Hayot’s inspirational cooking story in Los Angeles so we continue.

Mezze Plate at J. Nichols KitchenIn 2012 Roger moved into the Executive Chef position at J Nichols Kitchen in Marina del Rey. This originally opened as Nichols Family Restaurant in 1974 as a friendly, neighborhood coffee shop with reasonable prices and big portions. When the founders’ son and daughter took over the operation they faced a dilemma. The retail center they were in was about to undergo a major renovation (and upscaling) and their clientele was aging and the younger crowd wasn’t patronizing them. The Nichols made the tough decision to remodel and reposition themselves as a destination neighborhood restaurant with more serious food and no snootiness. That’s a major transition…

The first 6 months of the new concept was a bit rocky. The seniors didn’t like the new menu or pricing and the Millennials thought it was still a coffee shop. A lot of guest confusion…Chef Roger joined the team in progress with the mission of improving the food and consistency. Over the last 18 months that has happened and the successful transition accomplished! A great turnaround story…

Virtually everything is now made from scratch from the pizza dough (3-day process) to the fruit preserves served at breakfast. Chef Roger takes the time to make his own biscuits (very popular) as well as flavorful premium sausages. He has his own smoker. All the desserts are house-prepared. The novel Greek Yogurt Cheesecake is perhaps Chef Roger’s tribute to The Cheesecake Factory. It’s light, has a graham cracker crust, crushed pistachios, and a honey drizzle. Yum…

Sanford D'AmotoGood Stock: Life on Low Simmer was written by Sanford “Sandy” D’Amato, one of America’s most respected chefs and restaurateurs. It is a special memoir of a life in cooking that weaves more than 80 recipes and both personal and food photos in a beautiful and engaging way.

Chef D’Amato tells his life story in brief episodes that are keyed to more than 80 of this James Beard Award-winning chef’s favorite recipes.

Sanford, the restaurant D’Amato opened in his native Milwaukee in 1989 (in the space that once housed his grandfather’s grocery store,) has long been one of the highest rated restaurants in America.

D’Amato and his wife, Angie, currently split their time between Milwaukee and their mini-farm in Hatfield, MA, where they are preparing to open a cooking school (also called Good Stock.)

If you really want to understand what it takes to be a successful, career executive chef this is the book for you. It’s also highly entertaining and a fascinating read. Chef Sandy’s encounters with the legendary Julia Child over the years are priceless.

Max JacobsonMax Jacobson is a serious food journalist who relocated to Las Vegas from Southern California in 1999 to cover the burgeoning dining scene there. Southern Californians remember his coverage of the Orange County dining scene for The Los Angeles Times. He is currently Vegas Seven’s restaurant critic. His colleagues have great respect for him.

Two days before Christmas 2013, Jacobson was struck by a hit-and-run driver while he was in a crosswalk. He sustained severe brain trauma from the accident. He remains hospitalized in serious condition and his prognosis is uncertain.

Chefs to the Max benefit for Max Jacobson at RX Boiler RoomIn true hospitality industry fashion a group of prominent, celebrity chefs have joined together to launch the Chefs to the Max fundraising series to assist with Max Jacobson’s horrendous medical expenses.

The first dinner was January 19th at Chef Rick Moonen’s Rx Boiler Room at Mandalay Place on the Las Vegas Strip. The evening raised an impressive $275,799.

Fellow Las Vegas-based food journalist, Al Mancini, joins us to talk about the Chefs to the Max benefits and working with Max. Al and Max collaborated (with a third Las Vegas-based restaurant writer) on the three editions of the very popular Las Vegas dining guidebook series, Eating Las Vegas.

Republique Restaurant in Los AngelesLet’s talk food…Chef Jet and Producer Andy share some of their recent dining adventures.

Jet has experienced the much talked-about Republique with Walter Manzke and Chef Margarita Manzke behind the stoves at the former Campanile space. Andy has dined at Downtown’s Orsa & Winston, the new fine-dining spot from Josef Centeno (Bar Ama & Baco Mercat.)

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Anais Tangie, Marketing Coordinator, SoCo and The Mix
Segment Three: Chef Carla Hall, ABC’s “The Chew,” “Bravo’s “Top Chef ,” and Carla Hall Petit Cookies
Segment Four: Roger Hayot, Executive Chef, J. Nichols Kitchen Part One
Segment Five: Roger Hayot, Executive Chef, J. Nichols Kitchen Part Two
Segment Six: Sanford D’Amato, founder and former Executive Chef of the award-winning Sanford restaurant, Milwaukee, WI
Segment Seven: Al Mancini, Las Vegas-based food journalist and co-author of Eating Las Vegas guidebook for 2011, 2012, and 2013
Segment Eight: Chef Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris of “SoCal Restaurant Show”

Show 37, August 3, 2013: Life Is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas

Life is Beautiful FestivalLas Vegas, a spot known for excess on a grand scale, has never seen anything quite like this before and it’s a really big one!

It’s the Life is Beautiful festival set for some 18 blocks of Downtown Las Vegas (including the grounds of a large casino hotel) from October 25th through Sunday, October 27th. It’s an impressive line-up of world class music, food, art and learning. Tickets are already on sale.

With more than 60 prominent chefs and restaurants, 24 wineries and 24 breweries participating in the culinary part of the festival alone, L.I.B presents the attendees with a full-scale food festival experience. The elite Culinary Advisory Board is headed by Chef Bruce Bromberg of the Blue Ribbon restaurants in New York. (His Las Vegas flagship is Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill at The Cosmopolitan.)

“The food experiences of L.I.B. were carefully designed to be interactive, innovative and unexpected,” says Jolene Mannina, Head of Culinary Arts for the festival. “Working with the vision of our Culinary Advisory Board of 12 world-renowned chefs, we’ve created an approach that we feel will set us apart from other food festivals, giving both our patrons and chefs a chance to enjoy something new, fresh and, of course, delicious.”

Jolene is a local celebrity in her own right in the Las Vegas culinary community. Food critic and former ABC Radio correspondent Al Mancini (creator of the popular Eating Las Vegas guidebook series) calls her the “Queen of The Scene”. She originated a much-talked-about late night chefs’ completion series, the Back of the House Brawl.

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Show 14, January 26, 2013: Al Mancini, restaurant critic for CityLife (Las Vegas)

Eating Las Vegas the 50 Essential RestaurantsAl is part of an unlikely group of three local restaurant critics who dominate the Las Vegas restaurant review scene. The other two members of this exclusive trio are the scholarly Max Jacobson who reviews for Vegas Seven and John Curtas, esq., a practicing attorney.

Over three years ago Al Mancini came up with the idea of penning the definitive guidebook to the 50 essential restaurants in Las Vegas. The thought was that it would be updated annually. Al brought in fellow critics Max and John to add diversity to the selection process and sold the idea to Huntington Press in Las Vegas.

For a restaurant to make it into the “50 essential” all three critics must agree. This is where the fun starts because the three seldom agree on anything! One of the highlights of the book is the list in the back of restaurants that didn’t make it because of a veto. You have the explanation from the nominator about why it was included and then the thumbs down from the critic who disagreed.

Also in the book is a useful section on where to get specific food items. For instance there are helpful listings for beer, buffets, burgers, pizza, steakhouses, Sunday Brunch, and sushi.

Eating Las Vegas : The 50 Essential Restaurants is now in its 3rd Edition.  It’s a value @ $12.95.

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