Las Vegas has no shortage of celebrity chefs, but perhaps one of the biggest names throughout the culinary world is Chef Charlie Palmer. This renowned chef, restaurateur, author, and television host has collected a plethora of awards ranging from a James Beard award and coveted Michelin Guide, stars just to name a few. Recently we visited this iconic chef at his Michelin award winning restaurant Aureole in the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. Charlie has been a fixture in this culinary epicenter for many years. Always keeping things fresh, he was in town to launch his new cookbook, Camp Cooking, and to show off the new “wine angel “ costumes that are pretty delightful, to say the least .
Arriving at Aureole, we were escorted to a private dining area where we were met by none other than the legend himself and settled into what would become an evening of signature dishes prepared by Charlie and a selection of wines that caused us to do some serious research on indigenous varietals from Spain, France, and Austria.
Chef Palmer has been known for years for his progressive American cuisine built on big flavors and surprising combinations with an infusion of classical French technique. Today, a big buzz word is farm to table cuisine, and chef Palmer explained that he was an early advocate of farm over factory food. In 1988, he made a commitment to creating dishes featuring regional American ingredients at his three-star Aureole Restaurant in New York City.
It was now time to enjoy some of this renowned cuisine prepared by Chef Charlie just for us. Our first course was a succulent Santa Barbara spot prawn duo paired with a 2012 Txomin Etaniz Txakoi, Hondarribi Zuri, Getariako Txakolina. Our second course featured a lovely seared loup de mer & stuffed calamri a la “Setoise” joined by a very nice 2011 Moulin de Gassac, Picpoul de Pinet. Keeping the culinary hits coming, Palmer delivered a perfectly prepared roasted Moulard duck breast with sautéed dandelion greens, bing cherries and muscat jus paired with a Schloss Gobelsburger , Zweigelt, Kamptal , Austria 2010 that was a perfect marriage of cuisine and wine.
Three courses of gastronomic artistry, and Palmer still had one more treat for us. A beautiful roasted Oregon Wagyu beef strip loin with braised beef cheeks, barley and porcini mushrooms and a 2007 Chene Bleu Heloise, Syrah/Grenache/Viognier. Pastry chef Megan fished off our evening with a rich roasted fig and goat cheese cake with chicory ice cream and a 1985 Toro Albala, Don PX Gran Reserva, Pedro Ximenez,Montilla-Moriles.
The evening was not just about great cuisine from Palmer and his kitchen but also about his new cookbook, Camp Cooking. This leather-bound book, complete with a Remington stamp, is all about cooking and eating outdoors and is a must for any lover of the great outdoors.
Charlie Palmer is always keeping things fresh and his “wine angels” are no exception. They have been soaring for years, overseeing almost 10,000 bottles of wine stored in the iconic tower. The “angels” ascend and descend the climate-controlled, stainless-steel columns on mechanical hoists fetching wine for their guests. They how have new uniforms that make them very hard to miss with new two-piece outfits outfitted with more than 100 LED bulbs. “We were often given feedback by our guests that they were hard to see in the tower, so we really wanted to make them shine,” Palmer told us. “Now they have a uniform that suits the excitement of their job.” The new uniforms are a creation of Las Vegas fashion designer Bunker Hill Bradley, who won a competition among local designers, and feature a progression of colors that symbolize the hues found in various wines .
Charlie Palmer’s new cookbook and new wine angel uniforms show that this iconic chef is not afraid of innovation or invention, which keeps him and his Charlie Palmer Group at the forefront of the culinary industry around the world.