Last December, I was invited to experience 4 days of pure gustatory delight. The Venetian® and The Palazzo® Las Vegas put on Ultimo – A Weekend of Excellence, their largest food and wine event. Held annually, the event was themed around Earth, Air, Water and Fire. The theme was expanded in 2015 to include the Team USA selection event for the prestigious Bocuse d’Or competition, one of the world’s most renowned culinary events.
Celebrating Earth: Evening of Truffles, Wild Game and Tradition
Thursday December 17th
Location: Venezia Colonnade
This earthy dinner was especially prepared by Chefs Jérôme Bocuse, Traci Des Jardins of San Francisco hot spots Jardinière and Mijita, and Josiah Citrin, who has studied under the greats Georges Vernotte, Claude Peyrot, Wolfgang Puck, and Joachim Splichal. Committed to using pure ingredients that embody a sense of earthiness, chefs highlighted wild game, and Urbani truffles, along with the traditions of the revered French chef and the Bocuse d’Or board member.
Every sense was invoked as the chefs brought together a culinary experience like none other. Subtle spices, herbs and flavorings enhanced the meal composed of pleasing textures. Even the most particular palate would savor cuisine so perfectly prepared.
Friday, December 18th
Location: Grand Colonnade
The Grand Banquet took place on Friday Decmber 18 inside the captivating Grand Colonnade. Introduced in 2013, The Grand Banquet spans the iconic Colonnade of The Venetian, and dinner is stunningly served on a single table. The lavish scene was declared ‘the grandest meal ever served in Las Vegas’ by Chef Mario Batali.
This year’s Grand Banquet was otherworldly, as guests dined at new heights. The event’s theme encompassed the idea of “Dinner in the Clouds.” A sense of weightlessness was created by the acrylic glass chairs and table. Custom cloud effects were added to truly encourage a sense of dinner amongst the clouds.
An irresistible combination of Krug Champagne, Urbani Trufflles and caviar made for a delectable reception which led seamlessly into the extravagant meal. The remarkable European-inspired dinner was expertly crafted with opulent culinary and beverage pairings. Featuring a decadent menu, celebrated chefs Thomas Keller of Bouchon (Las Vegas, Beverly Hills, Yountville), Bouchon Bakery (Las Vegas, Beverly Hills, Yountville, New York), Ad Hoc + Addendum, Per Se and The French Laundry, Philip Tessier and Shaun Hergatt Ming Tsai contributed their culinary expertise to create a sumptuous dining experience. Indeed, the whole affair was a divinely-inspired, heavenly ordeal.
Following the Grand Banquet, guests made their way to The Lavo Casino Club for a chic after-party.
Celebrating Water: Floating Luncheon on the Grand Canal
Saturday, December 19th
Location: The Grand Canal at The Venetian
This one-of-a-kind luncheon revolved around the healing powers of “Water.” The table, featuring a fabulous seafood extravaganza, floated over the Grand Canal as gondoliers deigned to serve Prosecco from their gondolas. Guests were transported to the Mediterranean via a slightly submerged clear acrylic platform that created a sense of “floating” along the canal.
Celebrating Fire: A Mastery of Cooking Over Open Flame
Saturday, December 19th
The Venetian Paiza
This event began as an outdoor experience. The view was exciting as guests positioned themselves on the piazza at the Doge’s Palace entrance of The Venetian to watch dinner preparations being made. Embracing this night of “Fire,” guests sipped on Krug and watched as huge pieces of steak, whole fish, and a traditional full-sized pig roasted on an open flame.
Next, guests moved inside to the private Paiza Club to partake of the masterfully prepared dinner. Olivier Dubreuil, executive chef of The Venetian and The Palazzo and Dario Cecchini the famed Chianti “Butcher of Panzano” expertly crafted a dining experience to be savored. Guests wanted for nothing as perfectly prepared meats and tasty accompaniments flowed freely- along with carefully selected beverages.
Truffle Farewell Brunch
Sunday, December 20th
An exclusive farewell brunch made it nearly impossible for foodies and food lovers alike to say goodbye to the Ultimo experience. Top Italian fare was the selection of choice, the menu featuring Urbani truffles, organic farm-fresh eggs, premium beef, house-cured salmon and Krug Champagne. Hearty, flavorful and delightful, brunch was just enough to fill guests’ bellies, but leave them wanting that something-more that only an event like Ultimo can provide.