I know at some point I am going to actually have to write up all the medical stuff I have learned at the conference, but for now I’m just sharing the Vegas Experience with you all. Because seriously, it is an experience the likes of which exists nowhere else on the planet. Everyone should go at least once in their lives, if nothing else at least to people-watch.
Because even if you don’t gamble (I don’t), and don’t drink (well, let’s say I am not averse to a glass of wine), there is always the shopping. And the food. Oh, the food.
Every celebrity chef worth his or her salt ends up coming to Vegas and opening up another branch of their famous haunt. This means that concentrated in the 4 miles of Las Vegas strip is the most insane concentration of fine dining in the universe. I’ve gained at least 30 pounds this week, I’m sure of it.
But I digress. I’m not a foodie per se in that I don’t really know what I’m talking about with fine dining, but I love food. I am in fact a huge Top Chef addict and I have no problems admitting I watch the show salivating on a weekly basis. When the first season of Top Chef Masters came out, pitting already established famous chefs against one another with the prize being money for charity, I watched that too, mesmerized.
While watching the show, one chef stood out and took my heart: Hubert Keller. He’s a Michelin rated French chef who seemed, at least based on the show, to be the coolest dude ever. None of that prissy ego, just an amazing yet humble talent with an adorable French accent. And he could cook circles around everyone else. When they did a challenge for little kids and he was in there carving swans out of cucumbers, I was forever his.
So today, when I realized he had a restaurant right near the conference, I decided to treat myself and drop in for lunch. I struck up a conversation with a woman next to me at the bar, who as it turns out was also a Keller fan. We kind of geeked out a little over Top Chef and enjoyed the fabulous food (and it was truly wonderful.)
As I was obliviously gobbling the cheesecake lollipops, my companion nudged me. “That’s him,” she said.
“Who?” I asked.
“Chef Keller!” she said. “He just walked by.”
I turned, and sure enough, disappearing into the back was a ponytailed man in a chef coat who looked to be the man himself.
I asked the bartender if the chef was in today, and she said yes. I expressed, probably very enthusiastically, my ardor for him and how cool it was to see him. She told me that was really sweet, and I reveled in my near-chef experience.
5 minutes later he tapped me on the shoulder.
“Allo,” he said. “Are vee enjoying zee meal?”
And then I died.
The bartender went in the back, told him I was a fan, and he was kind enough to come out and greet me. Then he talked to me about food for at least 5 minutes, just chatting with some random person for no reason other than he wanted to be a nice guy. I seriously doubt Bobby Flay would have done that. I’m just sayin’.
And I did something I have never done before, which is ask Chef Keller for a picture. He graciously obliged. I now own a picture of me next to my culinary hero with the biggest, cheesiest grin I have ever sported in my entire life. I murmured a silent apology to my 4 year old then kicked his picture off my iphone wallpaper because this is just epic.
Who says you need poker chips, 5 bottles of Stoli and Mike Tyson’s tiger to have a good time in Vegas? This is pretty much the best time ever. Oh yeah, I learned some stuff too.