A Record Breaking Toast to Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit

How do you announce programming for Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit? Well, if you’re in Vegas, you gather more than 300 chefs, sommeliers, and hotel staff members from Bellagio, Caesars Palace, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and Mandalay Bay to break the Guinness World Record for most bottles of wine uncorked simultaneously. The occasion not only announced additional programming for the 6th annual food festival, but also offered the only moment in Hubert Keller’s life when he was nervous to open a bottle of wine. I was also able to catch a rare glimpse of Adam Rapoport’s, Bon Appétit’s Editor in Chief, nervous side when he nearly shattered the record attempt by dropping his bottle moments before the countdown. Fortunately, the wine never met pavement but everyone was obviously doing their best to steady their hands as the air filled with a mix of anticipation and apprehension. Anticipation for the impending record breaking attempt and apprehension because everyone was hoping to avoid becoming part of the small and special group who couldn’t pop their cork in time.

To the outsider, the event came off flawlessly with 308 people, perfectly positioned on Bellagio’s Grand Terrace, successfully uncorking a bottle of wine within the 30 second time limit and breaking the previous record of 252. To the PR insider, months of brainstorms, research, preparation, conference calls, meetings, emails and walkthroughs had finally met their culmination in the single moment when the Guinness adjudicator announced the group’s success. From coordinating the live shots in front of The Fountains with Jason Smith, Adam Rapoport, Bradley Ogden, Jose Andres and Rick Moonen, to the distribution of the MNR, this was one event that will go into my PR record book for having the best bouquet (if you’ve never been around to take in the aroma of 308 bottles of freshly opened Cabernet Sauvignon, I highly recommend it).

˜Claudia Balfe-Taylor

Vegas Uncork'd by Bon Appétit receives Guinness World Record Certificate

 *Photo Credit:  Jason Schmidt


A Glimpse into the Secret Life of Picasso

One of the things I love about public relations is how I am constantly learning new things about a variety of subjects. Recently, I have been transported back to a time and place when Nazis roamed and artists were forced into hiding. But I haven’t been learning about just any artist, I’ve been exploring one of the most famous artists of all time – Pablo Picasso.
For the past month I have been spreading the message of Jeff Mitchum’s newest acquisitions, extremely rare images of Picasso in his Paris studio during World War II, and met Jeff at KNPR’s studio for an interview.  The photographs to be discussed were shot by Richard Ham and offer a glimpse into Picasso’s private life. Writing the press materials was a lesson in history, but what was particularly interesting was hearing Jeff’s intimate knowledge on the subject (if he hadn’t become a fine art photographer, he would have been a teacher).
When the host of State of Nevada asked him what makes a portrait famous, Jeff remarked that it is always the eyes. He went on to talk about Picasso’s personality and how he had a tendency to flit from one subject to another, not necessarily with his speech, but with his eyes. He was always moving and taking in every detail of his surroundings. So, for Ham to have captured Picasso’s eyes in such a way as to offer the observer a glimpse of stillness was an extraordinary accomplishment in itself. After hearing Jeff’s comment, I looked at the images more closely and it was absolutely true. You can see Picasso’s eyes, full of intrigue and mystery, either intently focused or looking off into the distance at something that had caught his attention. It makes me wonder what genius was bubbling up from the depths at that very moment. 
I also learned a story behind a postcard of Picasso’s portraying his famous image Guernica. The painting, and postcard, shows the bombing of the city by Spanish Nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War. When the Nazis found the circulating postcard, they deemed it “decadent” and brought it to the doorsteps of Picasso to ask the artist if he had done this. Picasso apparently replied, “No, you did this.” Needless to say, he went into hiding shortly after. Now, some 65 years later, these rare photographs are on display and available to the public at Jeff’s gallery inside Bellagio. They are truly remarkable portraits of a remarkable man with a remarkable story and a definite must-see in Las Vegas. 
You can listen to Jeff’s interview on KNPR by clicking here.

Inspiration Captured: Meeting Jeff Mitchum

While waiting to meet Jeff Mitchum for the first time, I found myself wandering through his gallery at Bellagio completely engrossed in the images before me. Being an avid traveler and knowing the impact a place can have on a soul, it was clear that whoever took the time and effort to capture these moments had a true passion for life. It was hard to choose a favorite, but the photo that stole my heart was called “Odysea.” The image shows the sun dipping into vast water, backed by clouds carrying brilliant shades of red; the pilings of a once great pier stretch into the sea and seem to welcome travelers returning from faraway lands and long-lasting journeys. Recently settling in Las Vegas after years of traveling and becoming a mother for the first time, the image connected to an inner feeling I had of finally “coming home.” For me, to say the least, the image and title was perfectly apropos.

The time had come to meet the artist and he was, based on first impression, exactly what someone would imagine him to be; calm, confident and dressed as if ready to go on an adventure at a moment’s notice. Then he began talking about his artwork and his passion rang through loud and clear. To capture “The Man” Jeff rode a bike packed with gear 89 miles into Denali National Park and waited for a moose to wake up from a five hour siesta. He returned to the Eastern Sierras again and again and again before the landscape offered the vision he had imagined in “Third Day.” He endured beating rain and freezing temperatures to capture the lighthouse and brilliant shades of blue in “Skynight.” In fact, the passion for his craft didn’t just ring through, it bellowed from the highest mountain.

In addition to a lovely gift, one of Jeff’s books that he graciously signed for me, I came away from the meeting with a sense of appreciation. The truth is, no matter what you do in life, whether a fine art photographer or a Las Vegas publicist, to have passion for everything you do at each moment is the secret to a fulfilling life. Passion makes everything brighter and when someone shines brightly, they bring everyone around them out of darkness.