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Culinary cable shows turn the camera on Las Vegas

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A lobster preparation from Seablue at the MGM Grand, which provided Executive Chef Stephen Hopcraft and Executive Pastry Chef Santanna Salas for competition on Chefs vs. City.

Somebody must have rung the dinner bell at a meeting of TV producers, because three – count ’em, three! – foodie cable shows are stopping by Las Vegas in the span of a week. On Wednesday, Man vs. Food rolled into town with host Adam Richman sampling spicy seafood at Hot N Juicy Crawfish, Hash House A Go Go’s super-sized brunch and, finally, the NASCAR Café’s infamous 6-pound burrito.

A week later, Top Chef: Las Vegas will premiere on August 19 at 9 p.m., bringing a new crop of hopeful chef’testants to test their mettle against a slew of challenges cooked up for the Vegas-set sixth season.

But before Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi start putting chefs on the chopping block, two local culinary professionals will be hitting the small screen as they battle for Las Vegas pride on new Food Network series, Chefs vs. City.

The chefs are played by Food Network’s Aarón Sánchez and Chris Cosentino, and for this Friday’s episode “City” will be represented by Seablue Executive Chef Stephen Hopcraft and Executive Pastry Chef Santanna Salas.

Stephen Hopcraft and Santanna Salas pause outside Seablue at the MGM Grand during shooting for Food Network show Chefs vs. City.

“It’s a local foodie challenge,” explains Salas. “We went all over Las Vegas, and we competed against two other chefs. It’s like Amazing Race, but it’s all food related.”

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The show, which bounces to a new city each week, pits local chefs vs. out-of-towners in a culinary race to the finish. Eating, cooking, even farming isn’t out of the question.

Of course, in Las Vegas being a local always has its advantages, and on Chefs vs. City things are no different.

“A part of the challenge was we had to maneuver around Las Vegas. It was easy for me because I’ve been here for eight years,” says Salas, who attended Coronado High School before getting a degree in nutritional science from UNLV. “I know the back roads of Vegas. … I know how to get around.”

When it came to navigating the city without sitting in 5 p.m. traffic on the freeway, Salas says she had a huge advantage. Ultimately, however, the competition came down to culinary dexterity.

“Anything that has to do with food, like seeing or touching or smelling or tasting, is stuff that we do on the show.”

Seablue at the MGM Grand had two chefs represent the "City" in Chefs vs. City when the culinary-focused TV race came to Las Vegas.

And for foodies outside of the Vegas Valley that are getting to know the local culinary landscape through this week’s cable offerings, Salas in confident they’ll get a tasty bite of Vegas during her onscreen appearance on Chefs vs. City

“I think (viewers are) going to get a great aspect (of Las Vegas) and be able to see the local view as well as some of the tourist stuff. We did some stuff that Steve and I weren’t even aware of… So, I think people are in for a surprise.”

Chefs vs. City: Las Vegas airs Friday, August 14 at 10 p.m. on the Food Network. Diners at Seablue this Friday can catch the show early during a 7 p.m. screening of the episode starring Salas and Hopcraft. Both chefs will be available for a Q&A session immediately following the screening.

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