Food University will be taking over Caesars Palace in Las Vegas from March 27 to 29, bringing some of the world’s top culinary minds together under one roof to helm a three-day extravaganza of culinary school-style experiences, the first Food University.
Robin Leach will serve as master of ceremonies, and participating chefs include Duff Goldman, Alex Stratta, and Frank Pellegrino Jr., with additional classes taught by master knife makers, sommeliers, mixologists, cheese experts, fine food purveyors, and even farmers. "Students" will get hands-on cooking experience under expert tutelage, and will have the opportunity to go behind the scenes at some of the Las Vegas' top restaurants.
The man in charge of making sure that anything food- or chef-related goes according to plan? Chef Bradford Thompson.
"Any time that you’re a part of the first version of something it’s incredibly exciting," said the chef, who won the 2006 James Beard award for Best Chef Southwest and currently runs Bellyfull Consulting, helping to get seven restaurants open in the past three years. "There will be a learning curve, but the energy will be incredible, especially when there are issues to address on the fly. There are so many talented chefs to work with, and so many new ideas."
Thompson, who was executive chef at New York’s Lever House and served as sous chef under Daniel Boulud and Alex Stratta (who just so happens to also be participating), first learned about the opportunity to participate in Food U through a mutual friend through Share Our Strength, a charity he does a lot of work with. "I was introduced to Richard Gore, who is organizing the event, and he was looking for a chef to help organize it and be on the ground with the production team," he said. "My role is to oversee what we’re creating, to help play to the chefs’ strengths and manage their entire experience."
What excites Thompson the most about the upcoming event? "It’s not just a series of cooking classes, it’s so much more than that," he said. "You’re not just sitting in the audience being entertained; your chocolate will break and François Payard will help you fix it. There will be a real transfer of knowledge, and I’m really looking forward to helping to make it happen."
Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers.