Paul Bocuse


Students will pay homage and remember Chef Bocuse with a 1,926 balloon release commemorating his birth year.

Paul Bocuse, a name known around the world, was a hero of French gastronomy who, after 50 years of Michelin-star recognition, built an empire based on regional cuisine that drew inspiration from simplicity and generosity. Bocuse died in his hometown of Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or, France, on Jan. 20 at age 91. When Bocuse arrived in the dining room to greet guests wearing his chef’s hat and a spotless jacket bearing the colors of France, time stood still and silence fell. Everyone turned to admire this imposing and charismatic figure. 

People came to the Paul Bocuse restaurant in his hometown to savor the dishes but also to experience this exceptional encounter with “The Pope of Gastronomy” and “The Chef of the Century” who was a leader of nouvelle cuisine. With his feet in the Saône and his head in the stars, Monsieur Paul, as he was called by his staff and the son and grandson of a long line of chefs since the 17th century, received many accolades during his career.

At a young age, Bocuse was introduced to cooking at Auberge du Pont de Collonges, a family establishment run by his parents, Georges and Irma. Of his country childhood, Paul Bocuse, whose name means “man close to the wooded countryside,” maintained close ties with nature after being introduced at a young age to poaching, hunting and fishing. From his apprenticeship with Eugénie Brazier and Fernand Point, he learned precision and control.

After that, thanks to his temperament and senses of observation and humor, Bocuse, now boasting three stars, continued his route as an ambassador of French cuisine, the creator of the esteemed global culinary competition Bocuse d’Or and a talent scout. Bocuse embraced life: He loved the world, women and taste.

Passion was no doubt the secret behind Bocuse’s success. Everyone at Auberge or Abbaye de Collonges shares this constant goal of the very highest quality in terms of the choice of products, the right gestures in the dining room and the appropriate attitude at the right time with customers and colleagues. This is the sign of excellence that has made its mark on the history of Paul Bocuse—and will certainly last for many years to come.

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Robin Leach

This year’s Dom Pérignon “21” Cork Salute recognizes and honors the Lifestyle Media Icon. 

Pioneering celebrity journalist Robin Leach, who gained global prominence with a 14-year run of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” began his journalism career more than five decades ago in his native England, first making a name for himself in print writing for Britain’s Daily Mail and The Daily News in New York City. He helped in the launch of People Magazine, writing the first 11 cover stories, then went on to become show business editor for Rupert Murdoch’s The Star. He transitioned to television as the first showbiz reporter for CNN, shot the pilot of “Entertainment Tonight” and was its global roving senior correspondent for three years before starting his signature show, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”

Leach launched The Food Network and moved to Las Vegas in 1999 to work with celebrity chefs at The Venetian Las Vegas. His coverage of the arts and entertainment scene in Las Vegas began with the Las Vegas section of America Online, and he operated his own successful website,, for eight years at the Las Vegas Sun, covering countless entertainment and celebrity stories in The Entertainment Capital of the World, before moving to the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2016.

Leach’s long resume of TV and film work includes “Troop Beverly Hills,” “She-Devil,” “Family Guy,” “Late Night With David Letterman,” “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” “Hotel,” “Celebrity Wife Swap,” “The Surreal Life: Fame Games,” “The Making of Trump,” “The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us,” “Holly’s World,” “America’s Next Top Model,” “Criss Angel Mindfreak,” “The View,” “Howard Stern,” “The New Hollywood Squares” and “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!”

Las Vegas resident Leach, who spends the month of July in Italy and August in La Jolla outside San Diego each year, most recently began hosting “Food Quest” on The Food Network and competed on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” during Las Vegas Celebrity Week. Leach is credited with raising millions for The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Downtown Las Vegas’ Symphony Park, and a bench in a park at The Lou Ruvo Center is dedicated in his name. To quote Mr. Leach, “Champagne wishes and caviar dreams!”

Donald Carano

1931-2017 | A legacy for all time

Few Nevadans have held such greater influence over their industries than Donald Louis Carano. A native of Reno, Mr. Carano is celebrated for his 85 years of accomplishments, including the founding of landmark businesses Eldorado Resorts, the prestigious McDonald Carano law firm, and the Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery.

Recognized throughout his career as a compassionate leader and philanthropist, Mr. Carano’s list of accolades includes the Distinguished Nevadan recognition from the University of Nevada in Reno, the Nevada Food and Beverage Directors Association Man-of-the-Year Award, the American Lung Association Distinguished Community Service Award, Hotelier of the Year Award, “Knight in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic” by the Consul General of Italy, University of San Francisco Law School’s Alumnus of the Year, International Restaurant and Hospitality Rating Bureau’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the WIBC Gladys M. Banker Friendship Award, and he has been inducted into the International Gaming and Wagering Business Hall of Fame.

Donald Carano passed away on October 3, 2017. At the 44th UNLVino, we will honor his incredible accomplishments, and the legacy he leaves – one that will touch Nevadans for generations to come.

In 1981, after having left an indelible mark on Nevada’s gaming industry, Donald Carano turned his interests toward winemaking. A believer in lifelong learning – he had earned an undergraduate degree at the University of San Francisco and graduated with honors from USF Law School – Mr. Carano began studying the art and techniques of winemaking, and later founded Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery with his wife, Rhonda.

Today, Mr. Carano’s award-winning legacy is alive and well in Northern California, where Ferrari-Carano owns more than 19 vineyards and continues to receive awards for its magnificent variety of wines.

Every year, visitors from around the globe travel to wine country for white wine tastings at Ferrari-Carano’s Villa Fiore Wine Shop and Tasting Room at the Estate Winery in Dry Creek Valley, and on the east side of Alexander Valley, they flock to the Mountain Winery, home to Ferrari-Carano’s red wines.

The Carano family and the Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery have long been affiliated with Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits. The students are proud to honor this everlasting friendship at the 44th UNLVino.

“I’m proud to say that the Ferrari-Carano name represents quality and consistency without compromise, a commitment that is reflected in every bottle of wine we make.” 

~Rhonda and Don Carano

Ann Hoff

President & COO

Excalibur Hotel & Casino

Ann Hoff is the President & COO of Excalibur Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. As Excalibur’s top property official, Ms. Hoff is responsible for overseeing all operations at the iconic 4,000-room resort. 

Ms. Hoff’s career with the company began in 1990 when she was hired into the Management Associate Program at The Mirage.  She was quickly promoted to International Sales Manager and then to Assistant Director of Leisure Marketing.  In 1993, she joined the Treasure Island (TI) opening team as Assistant Director of Sales.  In 1997, Ms. Hoff was promoted to Director of Hotel Marketing at Beau Rivage in Biloxi, MS, where she served on the pre-opening team, shortly after the opening, she was promoted to Executive Director of Hotel Marketing for Beau Rivage.  

In 2001, Ms. Hoff returned to TI to be named Vice President of Sales and Marketing until 2005, when she was named Vice President of Hotel Operations at New York-New York, serving a dual role also overseeing food and beverage, operations and entertainment.  

Ann is a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of Global Gaming Women, and also serves on the Opportunity Village Foundation Board and Vegas Velocity Youth Volleyball Board. Within MGM Resorts she is the Executive Chair for our Emerging Leaders Network Group. Her past involvement has included the Nevada Hotel  Motel Lodging Association, and the Valley High School Academy of Hospitality and Tourism. She has been affiliated with several industry associations including Meeting Planners International, American Bus Association, National Tour Association and American Society of Association Executives.  She also served on the Board of the Hotel Lodging Association. 

Ms. Hoff is a 2010 Graduate of Leadership Las Vegas.  In 2011, Ann was recognized as one of 17 “Women to Watch” honorees by “In Business Las Vegas”. Most recently, she was honored to be included as one of UNLV’s 50 Most Intriguing Alumni and one of 25 People to Watch by Global Gaming Business Magazine. 

Ann graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management.