Saturday morning we were able to relax by the pool at the Paris. It was 93 degrees, but the water was quite chilly (unlike my 86 degree pool at home). We relaxed, had a nice poolside lunch, then showered and headed to our afternoon event.
We attended the Pro Am competition. Two identical kitchens were set up in a ballroom at the MGM. Iron Chef, Cat Cora, hosted the event.
The first competition was between Caesar's Palace chefs, Pro: Todd Williams and Rising Star: Ryan Ososky, and MGM Grand chefs, Pro: Mary Sue Milliken and Rising Star: Carlos Buscaglia. Each pair had 20 minuted to prepare two dishes for the judges.
The competition worked just like a shorter version of Iron Chef. The "secret ingredient" for the first team was prawns.
The chefs worked very quickly to prepare their dishes for the distinguished judges:Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chief Barbara Fairchild, Bon Appétit's restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton and Las Vegas restaurant expert John Curtas. The team from MGM won the challenge.
While the chefs were cooking, we enjoyed wine, beer or coffee, and a dessert buffet of treats. Here are a few selections: cookie pops, pina colada bars, and cheesecake bites.
After a short break, the next two teams took their places in the kitchens:
Wynn/Encore (Pro: David Walzog, Rising Star: Carlos Guía) and Mandalay Bay (Pro: Rick Moonen, Rising Star: Adam Sobel) went head to head.
These teams were much more spirited than the first group, sending competitive and sarcastic remarks back and forth. Their secret ingredient was squid. It was amazing how many ways they could use them in only 20 minutes: stuffed, stewed, fried, soup, and grilled with steak. Sauces, salads and beautiful garnishes were also accomplished in this time. The chefs from Mandalay Bay won the challenge.
We were seated in the front row on comfortable, pillow-filled sofas where we could see everything that was happening. We also had time to hang out with Cat and Andrew, both of whom were delightful!