Sunday, November 3, 2019

Las Vegas chef reflects on ‘very tiny mistake’ on ‘Chopped’ - Las Vegas Review-Journal

Las Vegas chef reflects on ‘very tiny mistake’ on ‘Chopped’ - Las Vegas Review-Journal


Las Vegas chef reflects on ‘very tiny mistake’ on ‘Chopped’ - Las Vegas Review-Journal

Posted: 23 Jan 2018 12:00 AM PST

"I was winning, and then I made a very tiny mistake," Michael Gillet said.

So it goes with cooking shows, where even veteran chefs can make goofs that keep them from victory. Gillet settled for second place on the segment of "Chopped" that aired Tuesday night on Food Network.

"I lost in the dessert part, ironically," said Gillet, executive pastry chef at Red Rock Resort, has had a storied career since his pastry apprenticeship in Burgundy, France, with postings at restaurants in New York; Naples, Fla.; and Beverly Hills.

He was competing in a segment called "Gold Medal Games: Baking." All four contestants were pastry chefs, and they had to incorporate a baking technique in an appetizer, entree and dessert. The appetizer used lamb, Gillet said, the entree turkey legs and cauliflower and the dessert the French pastry cannele, a milkshake and butternut pudding, the latter being the ingredient that tripped him up.

"It's not as easy as it looks, because of the time," he said. "When you see the secret ingredients, you have a few seconds to start thinking."

But he found the experience rewarding, and especially enjoyed the camaraderie with the other chefs. He was asked if he'd be interested in coming back on another show.

"You never know," Gillet said. "We'll see."

Despite the outcome, "I won a lot of friends, and am grateful to be part of it."

Another Mirage closing

The Mirage's Chinese restaurant Fin will close Feb. 10. The news follows the closings of Samba Brazilian Steakhouse and Portofino late last year, and the earlier transition of Japonais to Otoro. A new Italian restaurant, Osteria Costa, is set to open in the old Samba space Feb. 1.

Local chefs mourn Bocuse

Las Vegas' culinary community joined foodies around the world in mourning the death of legendary French chef Paul Bocuse over the weekend. Hubert Keller, Wolfgang Puck, Guy Savoy, Pierre Gagnaire, Rick Moonen and Julien Asseo were just a few of the chefs who took to social media to pay tribute to the pioneer of nouvelle cuisine. In the meantime, a chef from a local Michelin-starred restaurant has begun putting out feelers about a possible tribute dinner by the many in this town who have been influenced by the master.

Keller in on new caviar

Chef Thomas Keller is a partner in a new caviar company called Regiis Ova, which means "royal egg" in Latin. The product will be available at his restaurants, including Bouchon at The Venetian, as well as other restaurants and special events.

Sightings

Singer/actor Nick Jonas at Hakkasan at MGM Grand. Singer/songwriter Matt Goss at Kumi at Mandalay Bay. "This Is Us" actor Justin Hartley at Beer Park at Paris Las Vegas. Pro wrestler and author Austin Aries at Portion Control at The Gramercy.

Have an item for Kitchen Confidante? Email hrinella @reviewjournal.com or amancini@reviewjournal.com.

Center Parcs goes chic: New holiday resort near Disneyland Paris serves up fun for all the family - Daily Mail

Posted: 16 Jun 2018 12:00 AM PDT

Only one day into our holiday and I was nursing a new kind of injury. There was a dull throb across my spine and a tightness across my shoulders.

My knuckles were white, my face was locked in a grimace. My wife dubbed it 'waterslider's gripe'. Little wonder I was afflicted. I'd spent hours with son number one, eight-year-old William, on the slides at the pool complex where we were staying at the Villages Nature park, near Paris.

Some were so perilously steep, so dizzyingly twisty, that I braced, fists clenched as I whizzed down each one. 'You can stop any time, you know,' said Mrs C.

Villages Nature (above) is a new concept by Center Parcs about 20 miles east of Paris

Villages Nature (above) is a new concept by Center Parcs about 20 miles east of Paris

But I soldiered on. For the children's sake, you understand. Plus, there were all kinds of other aqua activities to enjoy (sorry, endure): wave pools, climbing walls, climbing frames and rapids.

Even the adults had bonkers fitness classes bouncing on a trampoline in the pool. It went a long way towards the ultimate mission of any family holiday: getting the children so knackered that you can sit down quietly with a glass of wine.

Villages Nature is a new concept by Center Parcs. They've created an eco-holiday community, with quirky design about 20 miles east of Paris, and ten minutes from Disneyland.

Families stay in apartments on the edge of giant lakes, brimming with wildlife.

'This nature is pretty noisy,' said my wife as we woke to a cacophony of quacks, honks and tweets. There's boating, walks, treetop walkways, a lake beach, and a spa.

Restaurants, shops, a patisserie, a creche and a video games arcade are sprawled on a promenade. You never need leave, although many do for day trips to Disneyland. We visited the park farm — a quaint complex with pony rides and a kitchen garden. We took a honey workshop and a bread-making class. Will and I competed as we crafted our loaves into shapes — him a hedgehog, me a plait.

Bake off: James and son Will compete in a bread-making class

Bake off: James and son Will compete in a bread-making class

Son number two, Charlie, five, had meanwhile tottered off with his mum to pet sheep and cows. We found them 90 minutes later inside the farm cafe, which housed not only an extravagant soft play area, but terrific food. Slabs of quiche, smoked duck and fig salad, croque monsieur. Even the chicken nuggets and chips were delicious.

For a family resort — where meals can normally be so uninspiring — Villages Nature nails the catering. The main restaurant is an Italian joint where pasta and pizza is cooked in front of you, then there is an organic cafe, and a wine bar serving classics such as boeuf bourguignon.

The proprietor, Nicolas, runs Paris's largest wine tasting courses and offers wine from his favourite vineyards.

Mrs C and I sat looking out on to the promenade, watching the boys chase Canada geese from the lake shore. The sommelier whispered that my French toast with poached pears would really go well with some Calvados.

'Merci,' I nodded. Mrs C raised her eyebrows at the empty glasses from his previous excellent recommendations.

'It's medicinal,' I muttered. In truth, it was more like Dutch courage to prepare for another day at the pool.

TRAVEL FACTS 

Villages Nature Paris (villagesnatureparis.co.uk, 0845 351 0820) has three nights' stay from £399 for two adults and two children aged three to 17. Eurostar from £60 return, eurostar.com

Driving our dogs to Spain ...are we barking? - Daily Mail

Posted: 02 Dec 2017 12:00 AM PST

It always baffles me that dogs, largely delightful, sensitive creatures, are forced to travel in crates in the aircraft hold, while Charlie Sheen is allowed to fly willy-nilly, and nine times out of ten in the main body of the aeroplane.

Dogs might be a family member 50 weeks of the year, but try taking them on holiday and they're an unsavoury suitcase that must be flown as cargo and deafened, oxygen supplied only if the pilot remembers to turn it on. And while airlines might let small dogs in the cabin, the Government insists they can stay there only while flying out of the UK. Flying home, it's down to the hold with you, Fido.

'It's a ruddy dog,' I hear you say, 'not a family member!' Not a family member? It's the one holding it together. And dogs don't speak, making them smarter than most of my family.

Whitewashed homes in Comares, a town near Casa Amarilla, where Jane Bussman took the whole family - including the two dogs 

Whitewashed homes in Comares, a town near Casa Amarilla, where Jane Bussman took the whole family - including the two dogs 

We have two dogs, Homer, a mongrel who has the joie de vivre of James Blunt with PMT. And Thistle, a tiny Maltese terrier with gammy legs. We spoil them rotten. Thistle spent six years locked in a freezing shed on a puppy farm, with 34 rotten teeth and arthritis, churning out puppies bought in pet shops.

When we first got her, we gave her a bowl of food. She grabbed one nugget and hid under the sofa with it. She deserved a holiday and she's not allowed to fly with us. It's rabies, you see: we've never let it in.

Our excitement, therefore, was practically rabid on learning that Brittany Ferries had pet-friendly cabins, sailing in style to Bilbao, Northern Spain. We'd be just a day's drive from sunny Andalucia.

Even better, looking for a pet-friendly house online, we got chatting to expat Clair Spettigue, who rescues dogs and also manages villas, including a place that sounded amazing: Casa Amarilla in the sub-tropical mountains of Axarquia. We were going on holiday – in a pack.

Going abroad with dogs wasn't too complicated – basically a rabies jab three or more weeks before you leave and a pill one to five days before you return, logging them in pet passports. All sorted by a vet.

For parts of Europe (including Southern Spain), there's a vaccination and special collar to protect against leishmaniasis – these jabs need to be started a minimum of ten weeks before you leave.

At 7am we were on the dock. The smell of the sea and the sight of other dogs in the queue sent Thistle and Homer potty. It was not only easy but very pleasant: the Baie de Seine slipped out of Portsmouth, seagulls floating overhead.

The crew were so friendly it took me a while to realise they were French. The dog-friendly cabins had comfortable beds and dog treats. Dog loonies had their own deck, where we sat in the sun watching England disappear with a glass of wine and the dogs at our feet. Life is too short to learn from your own mistakes, so here are ours: don't leave seasickness pills in the car. And use the ship's wi-fi. Roaming charges were abolished in the EU, but the ocean has not yet applied for EU membership.

Homer on his holiday to Spain gets some shade while wearing a large hat as he relaxes by the pool 

Homer on his holiday to Spain gets some shade while wearing a large hat as he relaxes by the pool 

A Swedish scientist called Carl Linnaeus once said that what separates man from animals is self-consciousness. Swedish scientists should watch a dog trying to find a tree on a ship's deck. He just wanted privacy. I stood in the rain for an hour, Homer desperate to go, but refusing. Thank God for the Spanish spaniel who saw this English dog and marked the deck as his, sending Homer into a frenzy of revenge. An artistic interpretation of the Battle of the Bay of Biscay.

I was dreading driving, but the roads were empty and the views so beautiful that the hours flew by. Green fields turned orange as we cruised south, crumbling fincas whispering seductively about renovation projects.

Dogs are always looking for their kingdom. It's been a life of bitter disappointment for Homer, the Prince Charles of mixed-breed terriers. In Casa Rural La Ermita, Puebla de Almenara, high above olive groves, he finally found happiness. We broke up the drive with a night in this stunning 17th Century pilgrim's rest, £36 for two in a picture-perfect monk's cell with mod cons.

We were welcomed and given a monastery to ourselves, with Nutella and espresso instead of hair shirts. When we left, Homer cried in the back seat for two hours.

There was one glitch on the road trip. We forgot to pack a minor travel accessory: food. Villamayor de Santiago is a small town famous for goat's cheese. There was no goat's cheese. Or any food at all. A sign in a delicatessen claimed it had been open from 8am until midday, but there was no evidence.

We found a Vietnamese shop with one watermelon. They refused to sell it, understandably. They said it was theirs. As we were leaving with a jar of bottled carrots, dog food and two Tetra Paks of Rioja Del UPVC, we saw a swinging sign that may have been a noose or a cheese. The cheese shop! A woman nervously agreed to let us in, one at a time, as we clearly had the look of schoolchildren who would take everything on the shelves and run away. My fear of conflict meant I ended up with an entire wheel of goat's cheese. It was the finest cheese I've ever had. For the rest of the holiday, Homer stared at the cheese as if it was a holy relic. Indeed, it may have saved our lives.

Andalucia gets 2,815 hours of sunshine a year, which, divided by 365, is a lot, probably. The dogs leaned out of the window, apparently in disbelief, as we climbed perfect hill after perfect hill until, there below us, was Casa Amarilla.

Jane with her two dogs Homer and Thistle, touring a village in Spain. The whole family including the pets travelled there by ferry 

Jane with her two dogs Homer and Thistle, touring a village in Spain. The whole family including the pets travelled there by ferry 

I may have dreamt Casa Amarilla. But this is what I recall: a mini Moorish palace with a yellow tower. Walking through a garden of hibiscus flowers into a private courtyard with fruit trees. A swimming pool thousands of feet up, and more chill-out zones than an Ibiza nightclub. Grape vines over a tiled table for alfresco dining. All framing the perfect view of an unspoilt valley, for pity's sake.

Casa Amarilla was a ruin rebuilt by an English couple and is all about enjoying life – the view from the master bedroom is so epic they've made the bedroom epic too, with grand damask curtains to sweep back on the day. Up in the tower, there's an Arabian bedroom with roof terrace for stargazing.

Life was really good in Andalucia. Temperatures in the 30Cs, decent rioja for €3 a bottle and the local bar, El Nino, was a five-minute walk.

Homer had a holiday romance. It began at breakfast when he ran in and stared at me for 20 minutes. This is dogspeak for 'How many times do I have to say it? There's someone outside!' Standing in the flowerbed, grinning from ear to ear, was the most hideous female dog I've ever seen, with a tiny, pointed head, like a hyena bred with a mole. It was love at first sight. Homer whimpered in the flowerbed waiting for her every day from then on. She always had a revolting smile for him.

I may have dreamt this part too, but in the evenings we heard bells and saw a herd of goats chased down the hill by a shaggy goatdog.

I definitely dreamt Holly the organic veg lady, who dropped off huge boxes of glossy cherries, peaches and veg for €15. We gave up buying dog food, as Thistle developed a taste for pumpkin with raw mince, which gave her so much energy she learned how to climb stairs for the first time. Not down them though; she sat at the top barking for her bearers. Clair the manager answered even our most idiotic questions. We went to visit the two dozen soppy rescue dogs recuperating with her and husband Simon, waiting to be adopted in the UK and Spain via SOS Weimaraner.

Here we learned of another way to get your pet on holiday: have a dog-lover pick them up from your home in the UK and drive them to the villa for you, leaving you free to fly. Clair and Simon handle the paperwork and drivers stop every four hours for passengers to have a cuddle and leave important messages on trees across Europe.

On the last night, I was gazing at the view of the valley at sunset. I looked down to see that Thistle was gazing at the view as well. She started smiling, and for the next hour just sat smiling as she looked out of the window.

I'm glad we took Thistle on holiday with us. Not long after, she started limping. Then her back legs gave way. She'd had a stroke. Now she's actually better than before the stroke, because physio – us massaging her legs in the bath – stops her arthritis hurting. But it reminded me how short dogs' lives are. We don't have them for long. Enjoy them while you have them.

TRAVEL FACTS 

Brittany Ferries (brittanyferries.com, 0330 159 7000) offers crossings from Portsmouth or Plymouth to Santander or Bilbao. One-way fares start at £220 for two people with car and en suite cabin. One-way pet prices cost from £29.50 from the UK and £39.50 from Spain. 

To book Casa Amarilla, visit vineridgeretreats.com/casa-amarilla or call 01622 808318. Seven-night rentals start from £1,250. For transporting pets to Spain, see pets-trans.com. For car rental, go to budget.co.uk or call 0808 284 4444. 

 

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