Tazmanian Sea Trout, Tomatoes, Guanciale, Basil Aquapazza – Esther’s Kitchen
Smoked Cannelloni, Pig’s Head, Porcini, Black Garlic Jus – Esther’s Kitchen
English Pea Parfait, Kizami Wasabi Infused Olive Oil, Burrata / Marinated Delta Asparagus, White Sesame, Fermented Garlic, Honey / Forest Mushroom Dumpling, Preserved Ramp Bulb Kimchee / Lemongrass Panna Cotta, Rhurbarb, Pandan / The Choke Out Cocktail with Cynar, Bourbon, Lemon, Simple Syrup – Sparrow + Wolf
Nitro Iced Tea – Harney & Sons
Smoked Mozzarella, Tomato, ‘Nduja, Arugula Pizza – Metro Pizza
Roasted Cauliflower, Hazelnut, Pancetta, Fennel Pizza – Metro Pizza
Hand Cut Ezzo Pepperoni, Sicilian Oregano Pizza – Metro Pizza
Marinated Vegetable Salad – Metro Pizza
Asparagus, Prosciutto Crostini – Metro Pizza
Sweet Ricotta, Blackberry, Bee’s Knees Meyer Lemon Honey Pizza – Metro Pizza
Chocolate, Caramel, Pretzel Cookie – Lulu’s Bread and Breakfast
Steamed Rice Cake, Mung Bean, Shrimp Dust, Chicharrón, Shallot Confit, Scallion Oil, Nouc Cham Gelee, Ikura – Le Pho
Chicken Liver Terrine, Shishito Pepper Jelly, Furikake Cracker – Paid in Full
Wu Tang – Paid in Full
Biggie Smalls Chocolate, Vanilla Cream Cookie / Tupac Vanilla, Caramel Cream Cookie – Paid in Full
Cognac laced Foie Gras Torchon, Powdered Sugar Spaetzle, Pickled Rhubarb – Gastromix/Andre’s Bistro & Bar
Cold Poached Halibut, Piperade, Tomato and Black Garlic Shoyu Broth, Grilled Sourdough – Gastromix/Andre’s Bistro & Bar
Lo Bak Go Radish Cake, Crushed Peanuts, Pork Sung, Fried Shallots, XO Chili Oil, Milk Tea – Flock & Fowl
BBD’s Beer Sausage, Onion Smoked Mustard, Buttermilk Fried Onions, Mosaic Hopped Sauerkraut, Steamed White Bread Mini Buns – bBd’s
BBD’s Hot Chicken Pina Colada, Fast Food Pickles, Baby Iceberg, Butter Grilled Bun – bBd’s
Lemongrass Soft Serve Custard, Dry Lime Soda, Dehydrated Corn, Waffle Cone – bBd’s
Thai Basil Shrimp Ceviche, Fermented Yuzu, Avocado Mousse, Watermelon Radish, Prawn Crackers, Diced Papaya – The Black Sheep
Fungo Magico Porcini Brodo, Maitake, Parmagiano Crisp – La Strega
Stracci all Vongole, Snap Peas, Nasturtium, Pesto, Lemon, Pangrattato – La Strega
John S. Park Beef Cheek Barbacoa, Mole Rojo, Tangerine and Golden Beet Escabeche, Beef Tallow Tortillas, Baby Elote Salad – The Kitchen at Atomic
Mileena Cocktail with Mezcal, Cachaca, Aperol, Lemon-Lime Sherbet, Ginger, Habanero, Togarashi – Other Mama
Aguachiles on a “Frito” / Robata Sturgeon Pupusas – Other Mama
Having once arranged a Chef’s Potluck calling on twenty locals to contribute plates for an off-strip gathering at Niu Gu it was with great curiosity and appreciation for the work involved that Vegas Unstripped was attended on May 12th, almost exactly two years dividing the events but several familiar faces in attendance celebrating a scene that has only continued to flourish.
Certainly a more polished product than #chefseries, the alley behind Esther’s Kitchen lined on two sides with cooking stations, tickets sold online and donations of both ingredients and time far more substantial, it was just past 9:00pm that gates were opened allowing guests access, the night’s only hiccup really a matter of line management that saw many wait almost an hour as the staff was matching diners to a sales log rather than using barcodes listed on the tickets.
Celebrating twelve off-Strip Restaurateurs on the same weekend that tourists and selfie-seekers were crowding the Casinos for $200-$500 meals and a chance to act like Gordon Ramsay would give them the time of day were he not receiving a $1 Million appearance fee, these owners and operators instead Las Vegas’ friends and neighbors, it was beginning with either Esther’s Kitchen or upcoming bBd’s that most guests kicked-off their evening of some three-dozen bites or beverages, each highly representative of the Women or Men actually cooking them and almost all of them entirely delicious.
Encompassing a wide range of flavors from Italian to French and China to America’s Backyard, an extensive discussion of each dish missing the point, it was from Chef to Chef that diners roamed in lighting not entirely conducive to photography, a DJ mixing some sort of 80’s nostalgia playlist at an appropriate volume while those trying to balance food and beverage were occasionally challenged to find a space to stand at one of a limited number of communal high-top tables.
Told by those with relevant opinions that beverages were “lacking,” though from the vantage of a lightweight the Cocktails at Sparrow + Wolf as well as Other Mama both seemed appropriate to their style while Paid In Full’s lightly carbonated Wu-Tang was as clever as Tupac and Biggie Cookies, it was moving on from a disheveled plate at The Black Sheep that two dishes from Gina Marinelli’s upcoming La Strega gave folks on the West Side hope of good Italian returning to Due Forni’s former location while Justin Kingsley Hall once again showed a serious degree of talent with big flavors and subtle nuance in his plate of dirty yet delicious Mole matched to bright Corn Salad.
Truly a celebratory evening, big smiles lighting the faces of both attendees and organizers as Chefs found time in the course of their cooking to briefly say hello and explain their ideas, it was during a second trip around the venue that Chef Trees presented two bites of Smoked Pasta stuffed with gelatinous Pig’s Head which likely would have been even more delicious had they not directly followed Ralph Perrazzo’s spot-on Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich, though the night’s best dish regardless would have still been a wood-fired Pie from Metro Pizza’s Chris Decker featuring Roasted Cauliflower, Hazelnuts, Fennel and Pancetta…though the Smoked Mozzarella with Calabrian Sausage or Sweet Ricotta and Blackberry versions were also exceptional.