photos by Eric Gladstone and Bob Barnes

Chef Shawn McClain, Chef Jamaal Taherzadeh and Chef James Trees

Hey Chef!

What happens when you team an established award-winning celebrity chef with an up-and-coming rising star chef? An unbelievable, unforgettable event! Just such an occasion took place at Libertine Social, as the restaurant’s co-owner James Beard Award-winning Chef Shawn McClain teamed up with Esther’s Kitchen chef/owner James Trees. Part of Mandalay Bay/Delano’s EPICurean Experience encompassing five events over the weekend of Oct. 12-14, the Hey Chef! dinner was a tag team of dishes created just for this event by these two multi-talented chefs. 

We began with “The Big A” cocktail curated by the legendary Tony Abou-Ganim (who is known far and wide as The Modern Mixologist, and is also co-owner of Libertine). This version of a Tennessee highball was a delightful and refreshing concoction with Jack Daniels Single Barrel, Canton Ginger Liqueur, apple cider, orange bitters and lemon sour that went down way too easily. 

Chef Trees brought to the table (literally) Truffle Pizza, which he delivered personally and shaved the prized black truffles onto the cheese pie; Squash Agrodolce salad with Santa Barbara Pistachios, frisse and caramelized onion jus; Lobster Ravioli “Harleyquinn” with truffle lobster reduction, fennel and tarragon; and Barolo Braised Beef Cheeks with horseradish and cacao e pepe risotto. 

Not to be outdone, Chef McClain wowed us with Steamed Cockle Clams with guancale, French butter and umeboshi; Primi Bucatini with crispy shredded duck and nutmeg; and Wood-Fired Branzino with warm brown butter vinaigrette and grilled celery hearts.

Our feast was capped off with an assortment of cheeses and marinated olives and we left with parting gifts of the menu signed by both chefs and an autographed recipe and bottle of The Modern Mixologist’s aforementioned cocktail.

This was truly an incredible meal and an opportunity to revel in the culinary mastery of two very talented chefs, and an event I hope MGM Resorts chooses to repeat over and over.

Marche Bacchus Debuts New Bar and New Cocktail Menu

Marche Bacchus French Bistro & Wine Shop opened in Desert Shores 17 years ago and has built a reputation as one of the best wine bar/restaurants and retail shops in Southern Nevada, and until now has only had a wine & beer license. The obtaining of a full liquor license was more than an excuse to remodel the front entrance and bar, for on President’s Day, Feb. 19, a drunk driver plowed through, causing quite extensive damage. Thankfully, no one was injured, and amazingly the restaurant never closed during the remodel, using creative restructuring of the restaurant’s entrance point.

A media reception to unveil the new bar and entrance was held on Oct. 16, just one day after the 11th anniversary of Jeff and Rhonda Wyatt taking over as owners in 2007. The new digs include dark wood flooring, new wood ceiling, bartop with inlays resembling sea shells and a bar that has extended to three times its former length. 

Also revealed was a new cocktail menu containing specialty drinks, aperitifs and martinis, most of which are classic cocktails with a twist. Max Solano, Mixologist and Spirits Educator for Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of Nevada (who also happens to write the Spirits Confidential column in this publication), is credited with helping to design the menu. Examples of creations in keeping with the uniqueness and twists are the “Oh, Grasshoppah”—Crème de Menthe, Crème de Cacao and vanilla ice cream—which Rhonda explained is a revival of the green minty drink that today you can only find in a handful of places in town; The “Bacchus Bloody Mary”—Belvedere Vodka, Lefty O’Doul’s San Francisco Mix, worcestershire, horseradish and bacon; and “The New Old Fashion”—Suntory Toki Japanese Whiskey, Cocchi Vermouth Di Torino, orange, Peychaud’s Bitters, sesame seed, espelette, pineapple and Amarena cherry. As Robin Leach was a great friend of the Wyatts and oftentimes patron of their restaurant, created in his honor is the “Robin Leach Martini”—made with your choice of one of eight of the best vodkas in the world, such as Russian Standard Platinum, and comes with an art-deco spoon on top of the glass with a dollop of Bulgarian caviar.  

In addition to the cocktails are several high-end cognacs, extra and ultra añejo tequilas, specialty whiskeys, bourbons and ryes, most of which you may not find anywhere else in town. The selection includes more than 60 single malt Scotches, such as Glenmorangie Highland Single Malt “The Quinta Ruban”—aged 12 years in bourbon cask and finished in port cask.

Other reasons to visit Marche Bacchus are its ample outdoor seating with tranquil views of the lake, a well-rounded reasonably priced menu (which James Beard Award-winning Chef Luciano Pellegrini consults on) and the fact that you can purchase any bottle of wine in the retail shop and enjoy it with your dinner for only a $10 corkage fee (most restaurants charge a 300-400% markup!). Congrats to Jeff and Rhonda on their 11 year anniversary and on their beautiful new bar and cocktail menu.