The Game Is Afoot

My boss, his wife and I set out this morning for a sure-to-be awe inspiring 4 day trip to Las Vegas.

Yeah I know…what happens in Vegas…

Locked out!

Well I’ll tell you that 9 minutes after I got into my room on the 30th Floor of the Cosmopolitan I locked myself out on the balcony. 30 stories up, private balcony, no one knows where I am (not even my boss), it’s 45 degrees outside, and I’m afraid of heights. Fortunately I had my phone with me and was able to locate the front desk number and call for help. Otherwise I was feeling like I was the bachelor in The Hangover, about to be abandoned for the next 24 hours. Okay, that’s all the personal stuff I’m sharing about this trip. LOL

The front desk guy has my full permission to tell his buddies about it all at the bar later tonight.

I’m really excited about this trip! We’re here for the 2011 Catersource Conference which is the premier convention of the year for our industry. I was here in 2002, which makes me a little leery of being here this year. I hope they don’t remember me.

I was representing the VanLandingham Estate at the time and was charged with the care and custody of my then boss’ credit card. My fellow chef and traveling companion and I put $140 on the card for the big soiree that they have a couple nights into the conference each year. L.A.’s hottest caterer at the time put on the show and it was actually pretty nice. Cutting edge displays and the technology of the day showed off 2002’s most fabulous catering ideas–in the director’s opinion.

After paying five bucks for a club soda and tasting some food that was no better than what we were doing at the time at the Van we left. Next day I went to Mike Roman, the President of Catersource organization and asked for our money back. I didn’t feel we got our money’s worth, and probably just wanted to be a prick.

Mike said that I would have to send a request in writing and that it was impossible to refund the money on the spot; to which I responded that it was entirely possible to TAKE the money on the spot, and I wanted back as easily.

His demeanor became inflamed and he asked, “Do you know what my relationship with your boss is?” My boss at the time was gay, but I resisted the obvious insult. After a brief standoff I got the money back, and felt bad about the whole thing ever since.

This year I have my own credit card and the event is sold out, so problem solved. Perhaps I’ll have a word with Mr. Roman sometime this week.

In the meantime I have made reservations each of the 5 nights that we’ll be here in 5 of Vegas’ and the country’s best restaurants! I’ll be writing about each of them as much as possible. Our first reservation is in an hour!

But to start the trip we stopped in Memphis on the way to the airport for a burger. Dave was gonna take me to Huey’s, arguably the best burger in Memphis, but they were packed. So we walked down the block to the Kooky Canuck, apparently known on the Travel Channel for their 4 lb and 6 lb burgers that of course are free if you can finish them within an hour.

We didn’t have an hour, so we passed on the big ‘un, but what we did have will go down in burger infamy in my opinion! Eight ounces of hand-pattied burgerlicious goodness on an oversized sesame bun with blue cheese and maple bacon, paired with a pile of fresh cut fries fresh from the grease. De-frickin’-licious!

The menu had a few cool items on it as well. I guess the theme is Canadian (I’ve been to Canada and was unable to discern a national identity, but nonetheless…). The wall was adorned with a fantastic collection of dead animals, mainly just their heads. One was a buffalo. I never can get the idea of buffalo hunting. Aren’t they just like a big cow that you walk up to and say, “Buffalo, I’m a gonna shoot ya”, and the buffalo says, “OK”. I digress.

So the most Canadian cuisine I remember from my 1995 trip to Toronto was BBQ ribs at the Swiss Chalet and a doughnut shop on every corner. This menu had stuff like barbecue egg rolls, maple marinated flank steak, and my favorite new food idea Meatball Caesar Salad…blackened meatballs with a Heinz 57 Caesar dressing.

As I reflect on that menu whilst staring out my window at Caesar’s Palace I am reminded of the time I got kicked out of Caesar’s Palace in early 1999, but that’s another story in which there was no food involved.

My last dining experience was last week back in Arkansas where the big gimmick is they throw hot rolls at you upon request. And fried okra…and white beans and ham.

I hope nobody throws food at me here! Check back later!