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Vegas Uncork’d Day 3: Attendance record, sold-out Grand Tasting, clambake

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Alain Ducasse and Ryan Scott at Ducasse’s restaurant Mix at the Hotel at Mandalay Bay on Saturday, May 12, 2012.
Photo: David Becker for Bon Appetit

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Charlie Palmer at the Clambake at Mandalay Bay Beach on Saturday, May 12, 2012.

Charlie Palmer at the Clambake at Mandalay Bay Beach on Saturday, May 12, 2012.

Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit kept up the top-ranked, star-studded turnout on its third day Saturday of around-the-clock eating, drinking and partying -- all to celebrate the celebrity chefs and restaurants of Las Vegas.

There were mixology classes with sommeliers, and chocolate king Francois Payard taught a course in pastry skills at his Payard’s Bistro in Caesars Palace. Additionally, this year’s Vegas Uncork’d has already set new attendance records, and Friday’s Grand Tasting sold out in advance for the first time.

“I’m thrilled that we not only had the most people ever attend, but we also had more restaurants participate than ever before, making this a bigger showcase for Las Vegas than in any other year, ” said Bon Appetit Editor in Chief Adam Rapoport.

Our thanks to contributing photographers Isaac Brekken and David Becker for keeping up with all the extraordinary events Saturday and to Erik Kabik for his photo gallery of a dressed-up Augustus Caesar.

Over at the Bellagio, PBS stars Jean-Georges Vongerichten and his wife Marja from “The Kimchi Chronicles” produced a sensational yet simply short meal of Korean- and other Asian-fused delicacies at his restaurant Prime. We’ll have her incredible story later in the week of her life-long search for her birth father when he returned to U.S. military service in Korea before she was born.

French chef Alain Ducasse stopped traveling long enough on his 10-months-a-year, around-the-world flights to unveil his new cookbook “Nature” at his restaurant Mix atop the Hotel at Mandalay Bay, where he revealed his secrets of how to host the best party. We’ll have my interview with him later this week.

Saturday closed in party style with a clambake at Mandalay Bay Beach with chefs Hubert Keller, Charlie Palmer and “Top Chef Masters” Rick Moonen, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken with the latter two’s Border Grill executive chef Mike Minor.

Note that the side of meat that Charlie tackled was nearly as big as him -- and he’s a big guy himself! Hubert wrapped up the night with a DJ session at Mix for those still awake enough who wanted to shed a few calories before bedtime.

Other highlights of Day 3:

At Estiatorio Milos in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, guests joined chef Costas Spiliadis for “At the Fish Market with Costas Spiliadis” to learn secrets of healthy eating with a Mediterranean diet. Costas shared how to select the best fish at the local grocery store.

At Francois’ class, he told his students, “The best way to test chocolate is with the lips.” When everyone laughed, he responded, “I’m serious! Because the lips are the most sensitive to temperature.”

Wine connoisseurs enjoyed the Bellagio Fountains at Jasmine for “Kings of Cabernet” as they learned about winemaking with Jason Smith, Bellagio wine director and master sommelier; Dave Lynch, Bon Appetit contributing wine editor; and three world-class winemakers, including Andy Erickson. Guests were treated to a taste of top Cabernet Sauvignons while learning how to produce exquisite-tasting wine.

The Cosmopolitan hosted “Uptown/Downtown,” where guests enjoyed cocktails with Andrew Knowlton, Bon Appetit restaurant and drinks editor, restaurateur Scott Conant and Cosmopolitan mixologist Mariena Mercer at D.O.C.G, Chandelier Bar and Vesper Bar.

Along with meeting Alain and receiving a copy of his book “Nature: Simple, Healthy and Good,” guests took part in a champagne toast and enjoyed a five-course Taste of Mix menu with wine pairings.

“After Hours: the Remix” not only featured DJs Hubert Keller and Freaky Le Freak, but also cocktails and bite-sized desserts such as cotton candy, chocolate lollipops and mini dessert tarts created by Alain, Hubert and Vincent Pilon, Mandalay Bay executive pastry chef and master chocolatier.

On Monday, we’ll have our Day 4 wrap-up from today’s Mothers Day brunches, so please check back. Later in the week, our chef interviews, my dinner with Gordon Ramsay, Nobu Matsuhisa’s s new hotel and first Strip restaurant and the chef who dropped more than 150 pounds eating his boss’s menu. Plus, my highlights from the 6th Annual Vegas Uncork’d.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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