Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Are We Screwing Up Our "Top Chef" Opportunity?

Much has been said about "Top Chef" coming to Las Vegas. Is it good for Vegas' food scene? Does it mean we've officially "arrived" as a top notch foodie town? Personally, I think it means all of this and more. We've actually been at the top for some time now, and it's nice to see Bravo acknowledging this.

However, there's another question I must ask. At a time when our town badly needs some good promotion, are the big casinos missing this HUGE opportunity with "Top Chef"? In this case, I think it's a mixed bag.

Earlier this week, I alerted Steve Friess to The M's new "Top Chef" page. And like him, I just find it lacking. After all, the show is already over halfway through its season and The M is just now mentioning it on its web site??!!

I guess this is better than nothing, but I don't get why The M isn't doing more. Why are they doing "Grey's Anatomy" viewing parties but not "Top Chef" parties? Why did they do some "Italian Festival" a few weeks back but not some "Top Chef" style cooking competition and/or a "Top Chef" event plugging Marinelli's, Terzetto, and Veloce Cibo? The resort is gorgeous and the food there is actually quite good, so it makes no sense to pass up a chance like this to market The M as a top notch dining retreat.


At least the other casinos are speaking up and taking advantage, even if the casino where most of the show was filmed is not. Wynn Resorts certainly hasn't been quiet about its top chefs guest judging on the show. Neither has MGM Mirage, with Mandalay Bay and RM Seafood taking full advantage of publicity from a recent episode taped there.

I really do think "Top Chef" and the recent Food Network shows taped here present a special opportunity, much in the same way MTV's decision to bring "The Real World" to The Palms in 2002 turned out to be transformational in anointing The Palms as the official "Celebrity Party Central" and remaking the rest of Vegas into the naughty, sexy party town that it is today. I think what "The Real World: Las Vegas" did in promoting our glamorous "adults only" side and reviving tourism can be done again with "Top Chef: Las Vegas" in promoting our foodie paradise... And of course, reviving tourism when we badly need it.

So is it happening? I don't know yet. Again, it looks like The M isn't doing what proved to be a major boon for The Palms in milking all the publicity. Just like The Palms brought in major LA club "gods" in turning up the nightlife and luring in the celebrities (and all their willing-to-pay fans), The M should be using this to promote their fabulous restaurants and luring in foodies and luxury lovers with the luxe surroundings. I just don't get why they're not.

Still, perhaps there's hope that Season 6 of "Top Chef" won't be forgotten and all that delicious food shown on the show will encourage people to come back to Vegas. As I've said before, "Old Vegas" has mostly left the building so it's not as if we have to resort to $4.99 buffets and cheap "24 hour mystery meat specials" to get some business back. However, I do think good food, good times, and good value will do the trick.

Let's just hope everyone else at least tries to get something out of "Top Chef".

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