Winter In Venice: Culinary Clash Master Chef Competition Returns To The Venetian For A Second Smack Down

Two-day Event will be Hosted by Chef Emeril Lagasse, Will Include New ‘Masters of Mixology’ Competition

Winter In Venice: Culinary Clash Master Chef Competition Returns To The Venetian For A Second Smack DownIt’s time to ‘kick it up a notch!’ on Dec. 13 and 14, during the Culinary Clash Master Chef Competition, to be held Dec. 13 and 14 as part of the resort’s WINTER IN VENICE holiday celebration.

For the second year in a row, The Venetian Las Vegas will present this quirky late-night event, known as the most outrageous chef competition on the Las Vegas Strip.

James Beard Award-winning Chef Emeril Lagasse will be back as a celebrity judge for Culinary Clash, which pits chefs from Venetian and Palazzo restaurants against one another inside mobile “food truck” kitchens. Once again, Robin Leach will host.

The event – a favorite with guests during WINTER IN VENICE in 2012 – returns in a revised all-in-one-weekend format, with more opportunities for the chefs to interject good-natured trash talking, in what can only be described as a culinary “smack down.”

In addition, a new element will be added this year, Masters of Mixology, a decidedly spirited competition among resort bartenders, hosted by master mixologist Dale Degroff. During the competition, two teams will be headed by celebrity mixologists Tony Abou Ganim and Francesco Lafranconi, each leading a team of four bartenders.

All chefs and mixologists from the nearly 40 restaurants, food outlets and lounges inside The Venetian and The Palazzo were invited to compete in this hands-on competition. The winning chef and mixology team will receive a trip to Italy, to experience firsthand the inspiration behind The Venetian and The Palazzo resorts.

Last year, Chef Herb Wilson of SUSHISAMBA was given the title of the Venetian and Palazzo Culinary Master. Chef Nicole Brisson of Carnevino Italian Steakhouse was runner-up.For Culinary Clash, chefs will be challenged to create recipes using ingredients provided in a “mystery basket,” to be prepared in mobile “food truck” kitchens, located at The Venetian’s Doge’s Palace plaza. Chefs have been divided into “brackets” and will compete head-to-head on Friday, with competition continuing on Saturday.

“It’s on!” said Chef Nicole, who “wow’ed” judges last year with her culinary creations throughout the inaugural competition. “This year, that trophy is mine.”

There is no admission to view the events. At Culinary Clash, crowds gather around the kitchens to see the action, projected on giant screens visible along the Las Vegas Strip. Expect plenty of surprises, including appearances the prestigious judging panel. The names of the judges are kept strictly confidential, to avoid any late-night cupcake deliveries or other devious ploys for additional judging points.

For Masters of Mixology, the first two rounds of competition will take place Friday, Dec. 13, and the last 3 rounds will take place on Saturday Dec. 14, coinciding with Culinary Clash. (Times TBA)

Winter In Venice: Culinary Clash Master Chef Competition Returns To The Venetian For A Second Smack Down

Culinary Clash Weekend Schedule:

Friday December 13

  • 8:00 PM – LAGASSE’S STADIUM vs. TABLE 10
  • 8:30 PM – PALAZZO vs. AQUAKNOX
  • 9:30 PM – B&B RISTORANTE vs. TAO
  • 10:00 PM – LAVO vs. SUSHI SAMBA
  • 10:30 AM – MORELS vs. DELMONICO

Friday December 13


Saturday December 14


Saturday December 14

  • 10:30 PM – MATCH FINAL

The Culinary Clash and Masters of Mixology competitions are the brainchild of Sebastien Silvestri, vice president of food & beverage for The Venetian and The Palazzo.

“This is one of my favorite events,” said Silvestri. “We were pleased to see so much interest in this event for its second year.”

In addition, the same weekend, the sixth annual Venetian and Palazzo food festival, Carnival of Cuisine, will be held Saturday, Dec. 14, from 1 to 4 PM. This year, the popular epicurean adventure will be held poolside at The Palazzo Pool Deck and will include a special welcome by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse.

This notable annual event features award-winning cuisine from the illustrious restaurants of The Venetian and The Palazzo and is part of the resort’s whimsical Winter in Venice celebration. Guests will enjoy tastings from more than 20 restaurants including Aquaknox, B&B Ristorante, Bouchon, Café Presse, Carnevino, CUT, Delmonico Steakhouse, Grand Lux Café, It’Sugar, Lagasse’s Stadium, LAVO, Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro, OTTO Enoteca Pizzeria, Pinot Brasserie, Public House, Postrio Bar & Grill, SUSHISAMBA, Table 10, TAO, and ZINE Noodles Dim Sum.

In 2013, a schedule of Italian-inspired experiences will include a new nightly entertainment spectacle, whimsical character performances, a stunning 3D light projection show, and an elaborate Winter In Venice fantasy scene in The Palazzo Waterfall Gardens. New this year – several weekend events will feature world-class experiences for “foodies,” including the new La Cucina Italiana Food & Wine Festival, Dec. 5-8.

In addition, a guest favorite – the romantic skating rink above The Venetian’s iconic outdoor Grand Canal – will return. The rink was featured in Travel + Leisure magazine, and was called one of the “world’s coolest skating rinks” by the prestigious publication.

Winter In Venice: Culinary Clash Master Chef Competition Returns To The Venetian For A Second Smack Down

“The holidays are such a magical time for everyone and Winter in Venice offers the perfect place to truly enjoy this special time of year,” said John Caparella, president and chief operating officer of The Venetian, The Palazzo and Sands Expo.

The best way to experience Winter in Venice is by staying overnight at The Venetian or The Palazzo, taking advantage of additional experiences available to resort guests. Packages, which combine elements of Winter in Venice, begin at $149 per night.

A Holiday Storyline
“Winter in Venice finds its inspiration in the folklore and tales that generations of Italians have grown to know and love,” said Caparella. “Those stories have filled the imaginations of generations of Venetians with the experiences of festive holiday seasons coupled with the long-treasured spirit of giving and sharing. Within these tales are the characters that exemplify the good will, the fun and the excitement of the season.”

Throughout the 49-day celebration, guests will encounter these new characters — including the stunning Winter in Venice Queen — in entertaining ways, including the nightly entertainment spectacular, character performances, and the “Light of Venice” 3D light projection show.

Doge’s Palace and Outdoor Skating Rink
The Venetian’s front exterior will be adorned in winter schemes reminiscent of the fabled city of Venice. Thousands of festooned lights will hang over the majestic ice skating rink as larger-than-life snowflakes surround the façade of The Venetian. The impressive skating surface is made of environmentally-friendly material playfully called “ven-ICE,” which doesn’t require electricity or refrigeration. The surface is actually not made of ice at all, but a state-of-the-art recycled polymer, part of the resort’s industry-leading green initiatives. On the canal, romance is in the air, as skaters are invited to make figure-eights or glide hand-in-hand with loved ones. Nearby, an awe-inspiring 65-foot LED Christmas tree presides over Doge’s Palace, and guests are entertained by strolling entertainers.

Guests can enjoy the outdoor skating rink daily, with sessions at 3:15pm, 4:15pm, 5:15pm, 6:15pm, 7:15pm, 8:15pm, 9:15pm, and 10:15pm. Guests visiting with a Winter in Venice overnight package will receive a complimentary skating session in their Passaporto. Skating tickets are $14.95 for general admission, and $9.95 for Las Vegas locals with an ID and Grazie™ cardholders. Children ages 7-12 are complimentary (up to three free children with one paid, local or Grazie admission). Children must be 7 or older to skate

Celtic Woman: Home for Christmas – The Symphony Tour
As a marquee addition, Winter in Venice will kick off with Celtic Woman: Home for Christmas – The Symphony Tour, at 8pm on Nov. 22-23 and Nov. 27-28. At this show presented in the Venetian Theatre, guests can celebrate this holiday season with the celestial voices of multi-platinum Irish singing sensation Celtic Woman. The 90-minute performance features music from the all-female music ensemble’s second Christmas album, Home For Christmas, including holiday favorites “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Silent Night.”

Nightly Holiday Spectacular and Light Show
Every evening, whimsical and elaborate designs will help to set the stage for the Winter in Venice Holiday Spectacular, which unfolds throughout the Doge’s Palace plaza, offering the perfect photo opportunity for a post to Facebook or Twitter. The show will conclude with a rousing finale that will illuminate the iconic plaza, including the 65-foot Christmas tree.

In addition, seasonal storylines will be projected in another way – in glorious 3D – in the technical marvel “Light of Venice.” This spectacular 3D projection show transforms the architecture of the iconic clock tower using state-of-the-art digital technology.

After the show – presented three times an evening – guests can enjoy strolling, characters, musicians and special entertainment performances scheduled throughout the celebration.

Winter In Venice: Culinary Clash Master Chef Competition Returns To The Venetian For A Second Smack Down

Specialty Food Weekends
What’s an Italian festival without food? As part of Winter in Venice, guests can participate in two Specialty Weekends:

La Cucina Italiana Food & Wine Festival (Dec 5-8): Join us for a weekend celebrating Italian gastronomy, held in conjunction with Southern Wine and Spirits of Nevada and La Cucina Italiana magazine. Enjoy four days of colorful events and sumptuous culinary experiences, featuring a landmark collaboration between some of the best Italian chefs and culinary celebrities, including:

  • Chef Mario Batali
  • Dario Cecchini – the legendary Chianti “Butcher of Panzano,”
  • Chef Wolfgang Puck
  • Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro
  • Roberto Caporuscio
  • Anthony Giglio
  • Robin Leach

“A Winter in Venice Fantasy” at The Waterfall Gardens
The Waterfall Gardens at The Palazzo will be transformed into an elaborate show-stopping fantasy display, a creation of The Palazzo’s award-winning horticulture team.

“Our goal is for our guests to simply say one word when they enter this atrium – wow!” said Caparella. “This isn’t a traditional holiday display. We couldn’t find a better way to describe it than a ‘Fantasy.’”

Ice branches and 20-foot frosted birch, pine and glittering trees will complement the picturesque scene, including the waterfall and crystal “ice” ponds. Majestic hand-crafted white and pearl peacock statues will overlook guests. The winter gardens will also feature red beaded ornaments, pinecones and fresh poinsettias.

Food & Beverage
A seasonal Winter in Venice cocktail menu, including holiday-inspired spiced cocktails such as Gondolier Blanco, will be available throughout the resort lounges, including The Bourbon Room, Zebra Lounge, Bellini Bar, Fusion Mixology Bar and Laguna Champagne Bar.

Holiday-themed menus and specials will be offered by select world-class restaurants throughout the holiday including Aquaknox, Buddy V’s Ristorante, , B&B, Bouchon, Canaletto, Canyon Ranch Café, Delmonico, Grand Lux Cafe, Pinot Brasserie, Postrio, Table 10, and LAVO Italian Restaurant.

For more information on Winter in Venice or these exclusive suite packages, please visit

About The Venetian Las Vegas
The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino, the largest property in the country to receive AAA’s Five Diamond and the coveted Forbes Travel Guide Four Star awards, is one of the world’s most luxurious resort and convention destinations. Recreating Venice’s legendary landmarks, the LEED EB Gold-certified resort offers unmatched service and quality for leisure and corporate guests. With suites ranging from a standard 650-square-foot Luxury Suite to the luxurious 10,000-square-foot Chairman Suite, the all-suite resort boasts more than 4,000 of Las Vegas’ most lavish suite accommodations. Located in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, The Venetian features Grand Canal Shoppes, an indoor streetscape complete with gondolas and singing gondoliers, the Canyon Ranch SpaClub, world-class gaming, exquisite restaurants, a wide variety of entertainment such as “Soul2Soul with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill,” the party musical “ROCK OF AGES,” showroom headliners including Human Nature, David Spade, Rita Rudner, Tim Allen and Joan Rivers and extensive convention and corporate services. Guests can earn points while they eat, sleep, shop and play with Grazie, the premier loyalty program. The Venetian and its sister resort, The Palazzo Las Vegas, are the first ever Alliance Resorts in the InterContinental Hotel Group global portfolio. For additional information, visit, follow on Twitter @venetianvegas and interact on Facebook.