Chocolate Wasted

“If there’s no chocolate in Heaven, I’m not going.”
― Jane Seabrook, Furry Logic Laugh at Life

That quotation pretty much sums up how I feel.  An avid believer in the healing powers of chocolate, when I found out Easter Seals Nevada would not only host their second annual “Cheers to Chocolate” event this October, but that I would be involved in the planning process, “excited” doesn’t even begin to describe my emotions.

Taking place at Tivoli Village here in Las Vegas, one of the most beautiful and scenic shopping experiences in the city with European-inspired architecture, “Cheers to Chocolate” is an evening full of delicious wines provided by Total Wine & More and chocolate treats of all kinds from vendors throughout the area.  It’s like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory…for adults.  I took preparing for this event very seriously.  I didn’t eat lunch or dinner that day so that I would have room for (literally) all the chocolate. I’m talking—chocolate cupcakes, chocolate covered popcorn, chocolate strawberries, biscotti with chocolate flavors, chocolate vinegars (it sounds gross but is oh-so-good and also only 130 calories a bottle), braised short rib in a chocolate sauce, chocolate coffee, chocolate truffles–somebody check my pulse, I think I just went into diabetic shock just thinking about it again!

Paired with a silent auction of fabulous items and a special musical performance by The Phat Pack, “Cheers to Chocolate” donates the proceeds raised back to Easter Seals Nevada, helping them to serve more than 7,000 Nevadans living with disabilities.  Talk about a win-win (or a win-win-wine, if you will), I was ecstatic to be a part of such an important event. 

The evening of October 20 rolled around and the perfect fall Vegas night opened its arms to us.  A cool breeze filled the outdoor venue and before we knew it, hundreds of Las Vegans were strolling down the now packed cobblestone streets of Tivoli, sampling a smorgasbord of chocolate treats, sipping wines from all around the world and bidding on silent auction items.  Twinkling pink Christmas lights lit up the trees and musical numbers from Broadway shows echoed through the night sky and for a moment, we were all a part of something bigger than ourselves. 

And yes, the wines and chocolates were fantastic (have I mentioned the braised short rib in a chocolate sauce?), however my favorite part of the evening was seeing the Easter Seals Nevada team beaming with the success of the event. Tears in their eyes, they hugged one another tightly in recognition of the impact the funds raised will make in the lives of thousands of people throughout Nevada.  When I heard the words “We’ve nearly doubled last year’s attendance,” my heart swelled and I, too found myself blinking back tears. 

As the evening came to a close, bottles of wine were nestled carefully back in their boxes and only a few abandoned truffle wrappers remained tousling in the breeze; a reminder of a divine evening and the pieces of ourselves we leave behind.  And if you ask me, I’d say the attendees of this year’s “Cheers to Chocolate” left pretty substantial ones. 

However, I think I ate 14 cupcakes.

˜Camille Yameen

 

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