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a working solution for the intellectually disabled 12 December


Buckwheat blinis with cured salmon, lemon cream and microgreens from Eatt

derek stevens does it his way By following his instincts, the mogul behind The D is making big changes in Downtown

ready for more politics? Sure you are! Jon Ralston handicaps the contenders for 2018’s biggest races in Nevada

Our a nua l celebrantio Las Vegas n of dining sp’obest dishes andts, chefs

what a year that was! From the Sheldome to Sharknado 4 to the, ahem, “Chum Chum Room,” 2016 took us to some strange places
















Edgar Degas, At the Races in the Countryside, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 1931 Purchase Fund, 26.790. Photograph Š Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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o be sure, the second bowl of vegan chili was as delicious as the first, paired perfectly with loud, increasingly hyperventilative gulps of pinot noir, but the anxiety in my stomach seemed like a bottomless pit. Chili just wouldn’t do anymore. I needed to stress-eat some sweets. Need? Stress? We were supposed to be toasting a smug triumph over the goblin forces of darkness or something! Instead, this election night party had turned into a caloric intervention. I returned to the kitchen to seize a handful of chocolatecovered almonds. By the time I went back to the living room, I had this stressy sadface chocolate lipstick circle for a mouth. On the TV, an already suspiciously peppy Wolf Blitzer was starting to twitch and skip like a tea kettle on boil: Something was happening. Something unexpected was happening. History was happening. Another fistful of chocolate almonds, another slosh of wine. Uh, yeah, great election night watch party. If you watched election-night coverage, whether in elation or despair, relief or grief, odds are you were eating, too. At such moments, food is feelings. I bring up that truism if only to recognize that, given such a wrenchingly divisive election, uh, the fact that we all keep ourselves alive by consuming nutrients through our screamholes is maybe really the only thing we have in common anymore. But hey, it’s a start. And it’s in that spirit of common ground that I tug the cord to unveil the 2016 Restaurant Awards (p. 60). Once again, we’ve gathered the valley’s most respected critics — John Curtas, Debbie Lee, Jim Begley and Mitchell Wilburn — to dish on their favorite restaurants, dishes and chefs of the past Next year. And whether the restaurant in MOnth question is a hidden Chinatown gem or a So, yeah, Strip fine-dining icon, this year’s honorwe had an

ees were all risk-takers. You’ll read about uncompromising Tokyo-style sushi shrines ensconced in unassuming strip malls; classically trained chefs at iconic eateries gleefully upending tradition; suburban spots elevating our taste with challenging, innovative menus; and high-concept restaurants that still manage to revel in both fun and flavor. And, taking note of a particularly chewy trend that also reigned, Greg Thilmont’s “Year of the Noodle” (p. 72) dives into the valley’s restaurants that craft noodles, pasta and dumplings from scratch. Our annual Restaurant Awards issue is practically a tradition, fitting for a season filled with them — gift-giving, wellwishing, food-gorging. But generosity and compassion are virtues that are badly needed year-round (yeep, maybe now more than ever), and on p. 55, Heidi Kyser profiles an Opportunity Village program that embodies them. Better yet, OV’s community employment program, which finds jobs for Southern Nevadans with intellectual disabilities, marks a significant shift in the way we think of the mentally disabled. Like Opportunity Village, elsewhere in the magazine, are others shaking things up, too, from downtown casino impresario Derek Stevens to Chinese musicologist Wang Hong — people and organizations with a spirit of generosity that seems increasingly relevant and necessary. Andrew Kiraly

election. Now what?: A special report

December 2016



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December 2016

Vo lU m e 1 4 I s s u e 1 2

55 'just like

anyone else'

A casino-based employment program at Boulder Station is part of a new wave in job training — and civil rights — for adults with intellectual disabilities.


December 2016

60 Restaurant awards

Our panel of dining critics convenes once again to rave about the best restaurants, chefs, and dishes of 2016.

72 Year of

the noodle

Pho, ramen, rigatoni, vermicelli — no matter how you slurp it, 2016 was a great year for noodles. Greg Thilmont dives into the valley's best bowls of house-crafted pasta and noodles.

b o n e m a r r ow at s e a r s u c k e r : S a b i n O r r


December 2016

Vo lU m e 1 4 I s s u e 1 2




departments All Things to All People 19 PoliticsA look

ahead to the races of 2018 22 CommunityWe need strong voices, not mouthpieces 24 ProfileBar stories with a guy named Coop 26 zeit bitesGauge

your cheer level here 28 STYLETips from

party loyalists 30 Open TopicThe

32 Music

45 Dining

91 The Guide

Wang Hong mines an ancient musical legacy By John M. Glionna

46 at first Bite

This month's must-go events in music, art, theater and more

36 Essay

48 Table for Two

2016 was a pretty boring year, but there were a few events of note By Andrew Kiraly 40 Profile The D's Derek Stevens has big plans to shake up downtown By Jason Scavone

school dress code's double standard


December 2016

Oh La La's fun French inflection There's mad flavor going on at the Angry Butcher 51 cocktail of the monthTwo glammy

cocktails that capture Old Hollywood at The Barrymore

96 End note 2016 has something to say to you By Scott Dickensheets

on the cover Buckwheat blinis with cured salmon, lemon cream and microgreens at Eatt Photography Christopher Smith

I l l u s t r a t i o n : C h r i s m o r r i s ; IN s t r u m e n t s : A a r o n M a y e s ; D e r e k S t e v e n s , s h r i m p a n d p e p p e r s : B r e n t H o l m e s



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Desert Companion is published 12 times a year by Nevada Public Radio, 1289 S. Torrey Pines Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89146. It is available by subscription at, or as part of Nevada Public Radio membership. It is also distributed free at select locations in the Las Vegas Valley. All photos, artwork and ad designs printed are the sole property of Desert Companion and may not be duplicated or reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. The views of Desert Companion contributing writers are not necessarily the views of Desert Companion or Nevada Public Radio. Contact Tammy Willis for back issues, which are available for purchase for $7.95.

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A school dress code sends mixed signals page 30

ri sing stars and long shots


Pol positioning The 2016 election is so over — which means it’s time to see who’s setting their sights on bigger things in the pivotal 2018 election B y J o n R a l s t o n


ith 2016 in the rearview mirror, it’s time for most people to happily drive off the campaign road. But pundits are not normal. We keep our eyes on the signpost that says 2018, eager to see who might be setting their sights on the next campaign stop. Here’s a partial list of the nakedly ambitious — the fully clothed ones will emerge later: Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak What he would run for: Governor Why he would run: He didn’t raise more than $2 million for a reelection non-race. (He only got 57 percent,

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December 2016


ALL Things


but he spent nothing.) Sisolak loves being Clark County Commission chairman, loves playing the game, loves the power. And with a depleted Democratic bench, he’s the frontrunner. What might stop him: Sisolak breaks some china, and some might not be so bullish on him running. Also, the County Commission is a boneyard for statewide runs. The last chairman was a guy named Reid who ran for governor, too. You make enemies in local government, and Sisolak probably has a few. Odds of success: 4-1

Laxalt has done a great job positioning himself as Conservative Numero Uno.

Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison What he would run for: Governor, U.S. Senate Why he would run: That’s what he does. He is peripatetic and enthusiastic, attending Rotary meetings from Carson City to Elko. He wants to be governor, as most lieutenants do, and he hasn’t hidden it. But if that is closed off to him, he might run for U.S. Senate if Dean Heller doesn’t (see below). What might stop him: Hutch might be the hail-fellow-well-met Webster’s had in mind, but that doesn’t mean he ain’t tough. He destroyed Sue Lowden in a primary to get his current job. But I don’t think he would relish a primary fight against Attorney General Adam Laxalt or Sen. Dean Heller. He would be an underdog against either. Odds of success: For governor, if contested primary, 10-1; for governor, if uncontested primary, 3-1; same for Senate. Attorney General Adam Laxalt What he would run for: Governor, U.S. Senate, reelection. Why he would run: Laxalt has done a brilliant job of positioning himself as Conservative Numero Uno in Nevada. Gondolier Numero Uno Sheldon Adelson loves him. He has made few wrong moves. What might stop him: He’s young. He might wait. If Dean Heller runs for governor, Laxalt probably wouldn’t


December 2016

challenge him. But if Heller runs for governor, Laxalt would be the favorite to take the Senate job his grandfather once had. If he wants it. Odds of success: For governor, 4-1; for Senate, 4-1; for reelection, 1-2. Treasurer Dan Schwartz What he would run for: Governor Why he would run: He is ambitious. He says he wants to. He probably thinks he can be the outsider, and he could self-fund. What might stop him: Reality might bite, and he would realize he would be an underdog against any of the other constitutional officers except Controller Ron Knecht. Odds of success: 12-1 Controller Ron Knecht What he would run for: Governor Why he would run: He’s Ron Knecht. What might stop him: He’s Ron Knecht. Odds of success: 25-1 U.S. Sen. Dean Heller What he would run for: Reelection, governor Why he would run: He is the pivotal figure for 2018. He has always wanted to be governor. But he would be a strong favorite, all other things being equal, for re-election. The question is whether he wants to continue to be a cipher in D.C. with a president he didn’t embrace. What might stop him: Nothing. He’s young, so he will run for one of the top two offices. His decision will trigger others. Odds of success: Reelection, 1-2; Governor, 2-1. Economic Development chief Steve Hill What he would run for: Governor Why he would run: It’s a natural step for the guy who has been the chief executive of economic development. He has the skill set, is well liked and respected and has some personal money. What might stop him: He’s hardly at the front of the line since he’s not an

elected official. And unless he wants to pull a 10th Duke of Chalfont (figuratively not literally), he might not get a chance. And if the Tesla or Faraday or stadium deals go south, his platform crumbles beneath him. Odds of success: 8-1 State Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford What he would run for: Governor, attorney general Why he would run: He wants to be governor. He’s ambitious. He would be at midterm, so nothing to lose. What might stop him: Sisolak’s money and the GOP field. He might consider attorney general, especially if Laxalt vacates the post. Odds of success: Governor, 7-1; attorney general, if Laxalt runs, 10-1; if Laxalt does not, 5-1. State Sen. Kelvin Atkinson What he would run for: Some constitutional office, maybe secretary of state Why he would run: He’s ambitious. He would be at midterm. What might stop him: Getting a job in the Las Vegas Raiders’ front office. Odds of success: 9-1 Those are the obvious ones. Many wild cards are out there, including Rep. Dina Titus, who might make another run for governor if the stars align; soon-to-be-ex-Rep. Joe Heck, who might seek his old seat (and be formidable) or something higher; state Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, a possible candidate for House or Senate; Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson, who might see attorney general as his next steppingstone; and Danny Tarkanian, who, I believe state law decrees, must be on the ballot every cycle. The great thing about being a pundit in Nevada is that even though things pretty much stay the same, there are always surprises. And there will be some names not on this list who will surface and could become frontrunners. Now about the 2020 election ...

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Absence of dissent The demise of alternative press in Las Vegas left stadium proposal unchallenged By Geoff Schumacher

“Has there ever been a society which has died of dissent? Several have died of conformity in our lifetime.” —Supreme Court Justice William Brennan


n August, an impassioned newspaper editorial denounced a plan to spend $750 million in taxpayer funds for a football stadium in Las Vegas. Citing studies questioning the economic benefits of taxpayer-subsidized arenas in other cities, the editorial urged Nevada lawmakers to reject the deal. The editorial, along with the staff reporting on which its argument was built, reflected the sort of independent, inquisitive journalism that citizens expect from their community’s news media. But this editorial did not appear in Las Vegas. It was published by the Reno Gazette-Journal. Almost nobody in Las Vegas saw it. Meanwhile, the local media either unabashedly championed the proposal or handled it with kid gloves. It was no surprise the Las Vegas Review-Journal actively promoted the stadium plan: The newspaper’s owner, billionaire Sheldon Adelson, is the stadium’s primary private investor. Under previous owners, the R-J surely would have asked tough questions about the huge taxpayer subsidy. During the long stewardship of Stephens Media, the R-J was known for its near-libertarian and anti-tax positions. But with Adelson signing the checks, there was zero chance the R-J would engage in the investigative reporting or skeptical editorial writing the subject deserved. The Las Vegas Sun’s reluctance to challenge the plan was harder to understand. Its owner, Brian Greenspun, could have


December 2016

served as the counterbalance to the R-J’s all-in support, but he remained mum. His silence was deafening, considering how he normally would have something to say about a local issue of such significance. Not so long ago, there would have been a third voice in the mix. From 1996 to 2014, if Las Vegans wanted fresh perspectives on local issues, they could pick up a free weekly newspaper called CityLife. Rest assured, if the stadium proposal had surfaced while CityLife was publishing, it would have received intense scrutiny. Through three owners, CityLife rarely shied away from the important issues in town, often providing information and perspectives that questioned the dogmatic assumptions of mainstream media. The paper enjoyed an unparalleled degree of independence, even when it was owned by Stephens Media, which presented starkly different views in its daily paper. Sadly, those days of editorial diversity are gone. The changing economics of the newspaper business forced CityLife to close in 2014. Its competitors, Las Vegas Weekly (which Greenspun owns) and Vegas Seven, have survived largely because they pivoted to become advertising and information vehicles for the entertainment and dance club industries. CityLife, less focused on Strip nightlife, could never compete for that business segment. When the stadium chatter was at its

height — before the Legislature voted for the plan in October — Facebook and Twitter were alive with opinions, pro and con. There was some effort at dialogue on a couple of local sports radio shows, as well (KNPR, too). But social media quips and radio call-ins are a poor substitute for in-depth research and analysis and for thoughtful commentary that pokes holes in the conventional wisdom. Would more diverse local media coverage have scuttled the stadium deal? Probably not — but that’s not the point. If CityLife or some other alternative source were around today, at least we would have the raw material for a more informed, contentious community discussion. Multiply that by dozens of other pressing issues. Although it’s unlikely in this digital era that anyone will launch a viable alternative print publication in Las Vegas, political journalist Jon Ralston recently announced plans for a donor-supported news website to be called the Nevada Independent. This could be an answer to Adelson’s agenda-driven R-J and Greenspun’s depleted Sun. Its success will depend largely on the depth of the donors’ pockets and their willingness to allow the Independent to live up to its name. Geoff Schumacher was editor of CityLife from 1997-2000 and publisher from 2005-2011.



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David Cooper Bartender, Carnevino


oop is a Las Vegas treasure. Bartender David Cooper, that is — “Coop” is what his regulars have long called him, at Carnevino now and at plenty of places before that. What makes him a treasure? In a city of hotel bartenders — that ever-familiar face amid the crowds of strangers — there are a few of the old guard who have adapted to the new trends of craft cocktails and mixology while maintaining an old-school commitment to warm, personalized service. For someone to master both, as Coop has, is a rarity.

Lineage also helps; his father owned several neighborhood joints around the valley in the ’60s and ’70s, so even as a kid he knew his way around a bar. And then there’s longevity. The nickname “Coop” has followed him through various bars in town over a lot of years, including a memorable graveyard stint at Caesars Palace from 1983-90. Those were the days before smartphone cameras and TMZ, when an off-duty celeb could come in and unwind. “Robin Williams and Billy Crystal came in for the Dunes comedy festival before they were famous, before anything,” Coop remembers. “Robin was one of the most quick-witted, brilliant men I’ve ever met. “There were some stories … Rodney Dangerfield snorting coke at the bar, Evel Knievel sleeping there and hanging out a lot. He became one of my best friends, as well. He actually took me on my first round of golf.” Coop says he worked all over Caesars — including Seahorse Lounge and Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill — and actually met his wife there. But even a Las Vegas treasure can hit a sour patch. After 24 years there, he lost his job in 2007. “That


December 2016

taught me humility, respect and that it’s not all a game, but a business. It matured me as a bartender and as a person.” He bounced back with jobs on and off the Strip, winding up with his current gig in the Mario Batali empire. It’s a good fit for his personality. “Everyone steps it up at all of Mario’s restaurants,” he says. Before he matured as a bartender, he was an under-matured bar helper at his father’s place. “It was called the Pour House Bar, out on Boulder Highway,” Coop says. “He had Danny’s Bar, the Dew Drop Inn — everyone thought they were competition, but they were all his.” Even before he could drive, Coop recalls, he was restocking the bar at night, washing glasses, edging into the family business. After high school, he kept it up. When a bartender wouldn’t show up for his late night shift, Coop, as the owner’s son, would fill the spot behind the bar. Thus began a life and career marked in part by a desire to not lose his edge. Coop recently finished the Academy of Spirits at Southern Wine & Spirits, a class taught by mixology icon Francesco Lafranconi. Not only did he freshen his skills, he

learned firsthand the dividends of a long career devoted to good service. “I was 25 years older than almost everyone in the class,” he says, “but people were coming up to me like I was a rock star! It’s such a compliment when people who care about the business know me by reputation.” Coop’s vast network of connections in the Vegas hospitality industry has given him additional options, too. After that fateful first round of golf with Evel Knievel, the sport eventually became a passion second only to his family. He dreams of strolling the greens in the U.S. Senior Open someday. It’s also led to a nice little sideline. “These days I’m hired to throw (golf ) tournaments for businesses, for brands in the food and beverage industry, other companies. For example, if a car dealership wants to throw a golf tournament, I would put that all together.” He’s creating a charity tournament to help a victim of testicular cancer get back on his feet. “We’re hitting balls to save balls, so to speak. Help him out for a few months while he recovers now that the cancer is in remission. We do it for the sake of doing good.” Bartending as a Cooper family tradition didn’t end with him. “My family’s all in the business,” he says proudly. “My wife and daughter are behind the stick at another top steakhouse, my sons are both front of house on the Strip. We have opened bars and trained staff, worked in the finest places for years.” The next step? Putting all that collective know-how to work by consulting with prospective bar owners. “We are going to teach and consult our way of bartending with human connections,” Coop says. “We want managers and employees to be proud of what they do and where they work. We’re going to teach that.” Mitchell Wilburn

p h oto g r a p h y A n t h o n y M a i r

ALL Things

zeit bites


Not all signs are neon At home in the mirage of Tule Springs B y H e at h e r L a n g


ravity pulls and buoyancy pushes. A breeze lifts the crinoline of a deciduous tree, and its lower limbs dip and part with a tiny handful of boat-shaped leaves. In the pond, catfish tilt back and make O-shaped mouths. It’s almost as if they want to drink from the sky. I wonder if these creatures’ lips reach toward the roundness of the new moon at night, but I’ll never know. Floyd Lamb State Park closes around dusk. Tule Springs is an oasis, a space within which I explore the magnet-like pull between differences in this world and the push between similarities, as well. The foliage is so lush that this watering hole seems to be a Mojave Desert mirage. A sign informs us that mammoths, giant sloths and other larger-than-life animals once lived here. This claim seems outrageous, yet I know it’s true. Paleontologists proved it, the sign says. My daydream of ancient giants roaming the Vegas Valley parades my thoughts toward the Strip. This sign feels right. Today we have acrobats that soar, urban volcanoes that ignite and theaters that drop a sky’s worth of confetti into the palms of our tired hands, but this isn’t where the wonder of our home began. At this state park, we lay down our blanket and open our picnic basket. We allow content, sympathetic

Cheery or not? The first time you hear “Feliz Navidad”



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December 2016

The Grinch’s three-size heart upgrade: never gets old

The nativity lobster from Love, Actually, which some channel will inevitably air Sugar cookies

Imagining Bowie and Bing singing “Little Drummer Boy” in the afterlife

yawns to follow one another. We play a game of cards, for fun. Peacocks, and their iridescent trains, samba to a music that we cannot hear. Who says that showgirls are a thing of the past? I know these pretty birds are male. We watch, and despite the hundreds of golden-laced eyes, not one pays us any heed. Their clawed feet, which look out of place, remind me of blistered brides who have tossed aside their stilettos. I once learned that the two most-jagged protrusions on these birds’ legs are called spurs. I chuckle as I imagine a peacock riding a horse. Peafowl in a cowboy hat could only happen in Vegas, I think. Tule Springs Pond is, in part, an escape, but it’s also a reminder that we’re home here.


It’s okay to say the word “flocking” as often as you want

Bad Santa 2: Billy Bob Thornton needs cash

The desperate insouciance of Office Christmas Party

The 1,000th time you hear “Feliz Navidad”

Paying your teens to “pick up something nice for your mother”

Christmas kale

not so cheery

P h oto g r a p h y B r e n t h o l m e s

Subaru of Las Vegas 5385 West Sahara Avenue (702) 495-2100

ALL Things

party on


Party loyalty Tips for making this year’s holiday bash one to remember (or at least one not to fret) Other Mama has been open for less than two years, but it’s quickly become a word-of-mouth favorite among locals in the know. (And one of our favorites, too: We honored it as 2015’s Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year.) Beyond Strip-quality seafood and lovingly crafted cocktails, a major factor in its success is the warm, welcoming, inviting vibe created by chef/owner Daniel Krohmer (right) and head bartender David English. Who better to ask, then, about tips for holiday entertaining? Your top three tips for hosting a successful holiday party?

Daniel: Be very careful who you invite! Holidays can bring out a lot of emotions and traditions; you never know how that one coworker/friend is going to react after a few glasses of wine. Make sure to have distractions like good movies, video games, board games. You can only sit around telling stories for so long. David: Always have plenty of alcohol and food — nothing keeps people focused on the party more than those things. Also, you need proper music to create ambience. And, of course, never wait until the last minute to organize the guest list and inform guests of the party details.


December 2016

How do you set the mood for a party?

Daniel: Holidays are such a sensory thing. It’s important to have great smells coming from the kitchen, the room should be warm, and you should have a great selection of vinyl records. David: Two words: music and lighting. It’s been a crazy political season. Any thoughts on how a host should handle party conversation if it turns to politics, religion or other possibly awkward topics?

Daniel: I don’t invite people over for holidays who don’t have similar political

views. Ha. But I would make someone take a shot of whiskey any time they brought it up! David: If anyone turns party conversation to an awkward topic, I tend to just politely remind people to respect each other’s opinions — that or I usually distract everyone with a toast and quickly change the subject. What drink or food embodies the holidays for you?

Daniel: A large roast of meat (usually beef ) embodies the holidays for me. It represents patience and appreciation of the day. It also makes the whole home smell beautiful, and I feel it’s a deep, spiritual thing to share a piece of meat

P h oto g r a p h y L u c ky w e n z e l

like that with your closest people. It’s a tradition that has been around since the start of man. David: For me, it’s a classic scotch cocktail called a Penicillin (right).

Five things they c a n ’ t pa r t y without



What’s your favorite holiday tradition?

Daniel: Overeating and being halfpassed out on the couch watching a movie I’ve already seen 100 times. David: Sharing Christmas dinner with family and friends. Should guests bring something for the host/hostess? If so, what?

Daniel: I don’t believe it’s required to bring a present for the host, but it’s always a good move to bring some nice alcohol or a side dish that represents your own traditions. David: Contributing to the bar stock is always appreciated!


A good bottle of champagne is a must. Armand de Brignac Gold Brut, $295, reservebar. com



David’s no-fail holiday cocktail


The Penicillin 2 ounces blended Scotch .75 ounce Lemon .5 ounce Ginger Syrup Combine in a cocktail shaker;

Make your guests feel like royalty with caviar. Roe Caviar White Sturgeon Caviar, $100, Neiman Marcus in the Fashion Show


The right champagne glasses add a touch of class. Vintage-style stemware, $48, set of 6, West Elm, Downtown Summerlin


Make sure there’s room for everybody! Emmerson reclaimed wood dining table, $899-$1,699, West Elm, Downtown Summerlin

shake and strain over ice.



An excellent espresso completes a memorable meal. Nespresso Citiz espresso maker in chrome, $299.95, Williams-Sonoma, Town Square, Boca Park and the District at Green Valley Ranch

December 2016


ALL Things

open topic


Clothes minded What does the school district’s dress code really tell my 5-year-old daughter? B y C o r e y L e v i ta n


uring her third week in the Clark County School District, my 5-year-old daughter was marched out of her kindergarten class at Lummis Elementary and into the principal’s office. The reason? Wearing spaghetti straps to school. It was explained to me, after I was summoned to bring her an “appropriate” replacement top, that all straps must be “three fingers thick.” Wasn’t I aware of the dress code? No. I mean, I know now that it was in that mortgage application-thick pile of papers handed to us at orientation. But it’s my wife who signed them, and who dresses Skylar every morning. I have no part in the ceremonial choosing of the school clothes. So, when my wife was out of town on business, my daughter chose her own. I’m not using ignorance of a rule to excuse disobeying it. But I am glad it happened. Other-


December 2016

wise, I probably would have adhered to the letter of this law without questioning its logic, sanity or potential for psychological damage. According to the CCSD website, its Dress and Appearance code (R-5131) serves to uphold “generally accepted community standards.” In addition, it ensures that kids do not “disrupt or detract from the educational environment of the school.” I didn’t ask or really notice, so when my daughter chose that pink tank top, I’m pretty sure she was thinking, “It’s hot outside,” and “This pink shirt is pretty.” Not, “I’m going to turn my male kindergarten classmates on so much they won’t be able to learn.” Right now you’re probably thinking how messed up it is for me to take an innocent action by a 5-year-old and inappropriately sexualize it. Except this is exactly what the CCSD’s dress code does. It teaches boys and girls that they are different because there are parts of girls’ bodies they should be more ashamed of than boys. It teaches girls that keeping these parts hidden from boys is their personal responsibility, because there are limits to male self-control. And it teaches girls that if something horrible happens to them at the hands of a male child or (God forbid) adult, then they are partially guilty because of the thoughts their clothing choices placed in the mind of their attacker. I don’t even want my daughter learning these lessons at age 12. But for her to learn them at age 5 is unconscionable. Even more subtly, it teaches kids who wields the power at school (and in life afterward). Because it’s the male whose focus on education must be protected. It doesn’t matter if the female is perpwalked out of class to meet a parent in the principal’s office, then forced to change before being readmitted into class. That can be considered less disruptive than a male having to look at a female’s bare shoulder, because his education matters more. CCSD’s dress code should apply to,

ILLUSTR ATION Kat h e r i n e S t r e e t e r

“If a guy and a girl are both wearing ripped jeans and walking together, it’s only the girl who gets in trouble. The girl will ask, ‘What about him?’ and the administrator won’t acknowledge the comment. She will just be told to put leggings on or get written up.” and be enforced upon, the sexes equally. Its words do possess a gender-neutral attempt at tone but, in practice, they apply almost exclusively to females. “Ninety-nine percent of the time I see someone written up for a dress code violation, it’s a female,” said a CCSD schoolteacher who would only speak anonymously, for fear of reprisal by administrators. “If a guy and a girl are both wearing ripped jeans and walking together, it’s only the girl who gets in trouble. The girl will ask, ‘What about him?’ and the administrator won’t acknowledge the comment. She will just be told to put leggings on or get written up.” According to the teacher, boys regularly wear tank tops in the hallways, and even go bare-chested, with impunity. “And during football season, they’ll wear short jerseys in class, showing their midriff, which would be against dress policy if it were not just female-directed.” Yet only once in several years has the teacher ever seen a male get reprimanded for violating the dress code. He wore a shirt with a nude body part logo, and was asked to turn it inside out. “That’s it,” the teacher said. “No write-up or anything.”  It’s not just happening in Las Vegas. More than half of all U.S. public schools maintain a dress code, many of which include gender-specific clauses and most of which are enforced unequally. As The Atlantic reported last year, these are inciting hundreds of online petitions and school walkouts. A number of seventh-graders in Portland, Oregon, won their protest, getting de facto feminine terms such as “bare midriffs,” “plunging necklines” and “sexually suggestive” removed from their dress code and leaving only the gender-neutral requirement of tops and bottoms (or a dress), and the banning of profanity and drug references.

But Portland is a progressive place. Las Vegas, despite its hedonistic national image, is still politically dominated by the conservative religion held by both of Nevada’s U.S. senators, the mayors of North Las Vegas and Henderson, and nearly half the seat-holders on the Clark County Commission. My daughter’s teacher, and all the aides in the principal’s office, were pleasant enough about her spaghetti-strap felony. And my daughter seems okay. She saw my face in the office and was relieved to realize she was in no trouble with me. Two days later, the incident seemed forgotten. But the fact that my kid seems okay does not excuse what this incident has already probably taught her at 5 years old. There are some valid reasons I can think of for a dress code. I’m down with children of nudists not coming to school their favorite way (although I’d be totally cool if our puritanical society embraced our more natural state). It’s also okay with me if children of racists leave their favorite T-shirts at home. And gang members probably shouldn’t come dressed in their battle colors. These clothing choices threaten to incite severe disturbances, to say the least. I even get what the CCSD is trying to do. It’s setting policy across the board — instead of picking 12 or some other arbitrary age of enforcement — to avoid making judgments about how sexually developed individual children are. That has to be a very tricky line to draw. I empathize. But they’re trading one fail for a bigger, though more subtle, one: I did not send my kid to kindergarten to receive sex education. Especially not the irresponsible, sexist variety that teaches her to be ashamed of her body because what boys think about it is more important than what she does.

December 2016



Notes from the east Behind the scenes and on stage, Hong Wang is dedicated to promoting Chinese musical culture. (Mastering 40 ancient instruments helps.) B y J o h n M . G l i o n na


he musical notes that float from Hong Wang’s living room in southwest Las Vegas sound fresh, precise and yet faraway, each suggesting a languid, long-ago moment in China’s past. They come from instruments such as the banjo-like ruan, or moon guitar, a four-stringed instrument used in Beijing Opera. Or the xun, a clay-vessel flute resembling a beehive with finger holes. There’s also the laba trumpet, which mimics birdsongs, and the matouqin, or horse-head fiddle, a traditional Mongolian bow-stringed instrument on which Wang can evoke the thrumming energy of horses racing across the grassland. And, of course, there is Wang’s mainstay, the erhu, or Chinese fiddle. It was invented 1,300 years ago during the Tang Dynasty and sounds eerily like a human voice. Each day in his living room-turned-studio, he plays these instruments not just to practice them, but to master them — and he has. At age 57, Wang works them all like a virtuoso, more than 40 ethnic Chinese instruments in all.


december 2016

“It’s my cultural identity,” he says of his commitment to these instruments. “I was raised in China. I lived there 30 years. I have done the research into the country’s musical past. And I want everyone to know that we have this tradition. That’s why I work so hard.” His mastery is more than musical. Wang has also become Las Vegas’ shadow ambassador for Chinese music. Like the notes he plays, Wang’s influence isn’t readily visible, but you can certainly hear it and feel it. Over the past several years, Wang has worked with promoters in China to include Las Vegas on the touring schedule of several music-and-dance groups, including a 400-member student orchestra that performed at the Rio hotel-casino. He helped arrange a deal in which two touring Chinese dance groups performed at the Orleans hotel-casino. Wang is also the cofounder of the Nevada Arts Academy in west Las Vegas. He and his partner, Jie Bu, have so far brought 300 Chinese student musicians here for weeklong classes and orientations in American culture. And if that’s not enough, he’s writing the scores for two new Chinese animated films, one called Horse Pants, and hopes to get both shown at Las Vegas venues. “Right now, we don’t have resident Chinese performance groups in Las Vegas, so we’re bringing them in from other places in the world,” he says. “We’re planning events to share our culture — not just with the Chinese community, but the community at large.” Of course, Wang puts his own instruments in service to the cause, too; he’s also the cofounder of local fusion band Pangea, which blends musical stylings from East and West. Wang’s tireless commitment to sharing this music comes from a much deeper place than a desire for cultural connection. It’s intimately tied to his upbringing and personal history. “I love my culture’s music,” he says. “And I don’t want it to die.” Beauty in the face of banishment


ang grew up in Nanjing, in southern China, the son of an engineering professor who was blacklisted and placed under house arrest during the Cultural Revolution’s attack on the nation’s

P h oto g r a p h y aa r o n m ay e s

artists, scientists and teachers. At 18, Hong, too, felt the government’s wrath. He was dispatched to the countryside for a year, where he planted tea and dug canals. His salvation was music. Since the age of seven, he had been a singer and dancer in Beijing Opera productions until he became part of a traveling youth musical performance group called Little Red Flowers. After hurting his back in a fall, the young Wang switched gears to take up a more stationary pursuit: playing the erhu. He loved the voice-like quality of the sound, and began a strict discipline that has marked his musical career: He practiced day and night. Within six months, he had nearly perfected his play. Even though he was politically banished to the countryside, Wang was kept close to Nanjing so he could continue to play. He later entered a musical conservatory, the Nanjing Arts Academy, where he added the ruanto to his repertoire. One day, when a professor said he needed a volunteer to learn the Western oboe, other students stood still. Wang raised his hand. “I loved the oboe,” he recalls. “But my teacher warned that I needed to play well, otherwise the instrument sounded like a duck.” The school sought to establish a new Western instrument department and soon began grooming Wang to teach there. He continued playing Eastern instruments and learned the dizi, or Chinese flute; the guanzi, a double-reed wind instrument; and the sheng, a mouth organ. Eventually, Wang left China to travel. In 1991, while in Europe, he heard an Irish group called the Red Army playing a respectable version of Chinese folk music. That’s when he was struck by the lightning bolt: It should be the Chinese themselves who promoted their music to the rest of the world, he decided. That began the quest to mine what is left of his nation’s musical traditions. Those traditions are a dwindling resource. During lectures at various Chinese music conservatories, Wang has learned that while many young musicians embrace the East-West fusion sound, most want to play rock guitar instead of an ancient folk instrument their ancestors might have played. But he doesn’t blame Chinese youth for the lapse; he blames the government.

“The government has a duty to protect this cultural resource. With the right policies and encouragement, young people will come around.” Strange yet elegant


n 2008, when he moved to Las Vegas from San Francisco, fleeing the threat of the next big earthquake, Wang brought with him a cosmopolitan musical mindset. He sought out other Chinese musicians here for jam sessions and inspired them to seek public playing engagements. For four years, until 2015, Wang’s Beijing Trio ensemble played each Chinese New Year season at Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Garden, entertaining curious international tourists, who wanted to know more about these strange-yet-elegant instruments. “Many were amazed by their beauty,” he says. “And then, when they heard the sounds they made, they couldn’t believe it.” That fascination goes both ways. An expert on the oboe and saxophone, Wang is a passionate proponent of fusion music, which combines sounds from many cultures. He’s played Chinese instruments along with Western orchestras in Berlin, San Francisco and Shanghai, and envisions a near future when international symphonies will combine the singular sounds and complex arrangements from countries across the globe. But make no mistake: His dreams are of a sonic tapestry, not a melting pot. When his tours have taken him to China, he’s given lectures to the country’s budding musicians, many of whom have forsaken their own musical heritage in a headlong rush to master the rock guitar. Do not forget your roots, he advises them. You will need them to stake your culture’s place in the international music of the future. In some ways, nurturing those roots is a race against time. How can these instruments be taught if their masters are dying off? For decades, Wang has also traveled to his homeland on a quest to preserve its ancient harmonies and techniques. He’s lobbied government agencies to locate the old masters, many sick and near death. He’s traveled by bicycle and by donkey over mountain passes to seek out the aging musicians

DECEMBER 2 0 1 6


MUSIC Ancient sounds: Clockwise from left, stringed instruments the guqin, leiqin, and rejieke; xun (pottery flutes); the niutuiqin, a two-stringed fiddle

who are sometimes wary of disclosing the secrets of their craft. Through these efforts, he’s amassed the last-known live recordings of musicians such as the Mongolian vocalist Hajab, who once sang his region’s ancestral melodies for Chairman Mao Tse-tung. And there is the old matouqin player Maxibataar, who was imprisoned for 15 years by the communists just for being a musician. In the U.S., Wang has performed with Tan Dun, who won an Academy Award for composing the music for the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and with ChineseAmerican composer Zhou Long, who won a Pulitzer Prize in music for the opera Madame White Snake. He has also played his suona, or Chinese oboe, in a session with the famed American jazz drummer Max Roach, each responding to the other’s lead in a musical conversation between two cultures, two musical traditions. ‘I’m ready to play’


ere in Las Vegas, Wang practices daily, between frequent trips to Los Angeles, where he’s contributed as a studio musician to the soundtracks of various movies, as well as the Kung Fu Panda cartoons. Jeremy Zuckerman remembers the first time he saw the slight Chinese musician walk into the Los Angeles studio for an audition. Zuckerman, the composer for the Kung Fu Panda cartoon series, wanted an authentic Chinese musical sound, but he worried that


DECEMBER 2 0 1 6

Eastern-trained musicians could not read Western music well enough to keep pace with demanding production schedules. “I wasn’t sure how things were going to go, but from the moment I heard Hong play, I got goose bumps,” he says. “We signed our dude right then and there.” Since then, Wang has played in more than 130 episodes of two cartoon series, as well as on several films. He drives to Los Angeles from Las Vegas every other week, his van loaded with various Chinese folk instruments. There, he labors in the studio for 12 hours or more, and then immediately drives home to Las Vegas. “Amazing,” says Zuckerman. “The guy works harder than James Brown.” Cynthia Harris, the owner of Classical Entertainment, a Las Vegas musical booking company and former curator for the live music program at the Bellagio Conservatory, recalls how Wang frequently impressed audiences with his virtuoso efforts on various instruments. “Hong is a brilliant technician,” she says. “Whatever he picks up, he plays masterfully.” Since Bellagio discontinued the series last year, Wang has not found another local live-music venue to regularly display his talents. But that’s not silencing him: On weekends, Wang often throws parties for fellow Chinese musicians. They play competitive ping-pong and stage impromptu jam sessions. Otherwise, Wang is practicing, always practicing, as he looks for more musical projects in China, California and Las Vegas. Whether it’s a performance or a lecture, he’s eager to do anything to further the tradition of Chinese folk music that has become his life and his passion. “I’ve practiced for years,” he says. “I’m ready to play.”

a concept by



2016: The year in review! Kind of a boring year overall, but there were a few small highlights worth noting, I guess B y A n d r e w K i r a ly


ell, if there’s one nice thing about an election season unprecedented in its shrillness, vitriol and liberal use of caps lock in Facebook posts for BREATHLESS APOCALYPTIC EMPHASIS!!!, it sure makes the year go by fast. It seems like only yesterday that the infamous Twitter video emerged in which a primally angry BernieBro at the Nevada Democratic state party convention Donkey Kongs up the


December 2016

Paris hotel-casino’s Eiffel Tower and hurls a chair into the sun. But that was in May. Also, Chairgate never actually quite, er, happened — another figment of the imagination of a fevered media that was on as much of a freakout hairtrigger as the rest of us, watching, waiting, obsessively clicking our mental “refresh” buttons for the next pearl-clawing outrage in an election year on emotional overdrive. And for good reason: 2016 was the year when the expected

and plausible became received truth, only to be displaced by the unthinkable and outrageous becoming real. We believed in polls; we got trolls. It’s all so crazy. Did 2016 itself actually happen? It did. I saw the video on Twitter. Here are the highlights, lowlights and WTF?lights from our own corner of the yuge-iverse. Flavor of the year


he year began promisingly enough. The cosmos did placidly abide, etc. It should be considered a sort of reassuring normalcy litmus test: If there are celebs and sports stars spankin’ dranks in Vegas on the downlow, phew, that means the universe isn’t going to rip apart in a screaming froth of gamma rays. And look! On January 2, Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel was revealed by the tabloid press to be at a nightclub in Vegas doing just that (spankin’ dranks, not frothing gamma rays), disguised in a wig and fake mustache to avoid said tabloid press. So far, so good. And yet, how did the universe repay the

i l lu st r at i o n B r e n t H o l m e s

man nicknamed Johnny Football? He was unceremoniously punted by his team and his agents! According to news reports, today Manziel suffers the risible indignity of, yuck, returning to college. Well! You have to wonder whether Manziel’s dismissal sent some kind of vengeful bad-mojo dark-matter time-ripple through future history, giving 2016 its distinctly sour taint of a withering force unleashed. Or maybe I’m just desperately overreaching for a connection to these next unrelated news items: That same month, solar energy companies in Nevada laid off more than 600 employees, and state auditors accused the taxi industry of fleecing riders to the tune of $47 million a year. For the sake of karmic balance, I hope those out-of-work solar installers started driving for Uber. Regardless, Bad News was officially Nevada’s Ramen flavor powder substrate packet for 2016. Even realizations of collective fantasy took on the grainy, cheapened, gotcha quality of TMZ footage. Remember those clever “What happens in Vegas” ads that reveled in sly suggestion and coyly concealed vice? Measure ye here the yawning gulf between marketing and reality: On February 5, police arrested tourists Chloe Scordianos and Philip Frank Panzica III on felony charges after they were caught having sex on the High Roller observation wheel. “They both said they were just having a good time and didn’t think anyone would notice,” said the police report. How … uninspired. Even the couple’s fleshy, sickly looking mugshots bespeak less erotic intrigue than harried Craigslist hookup. But it’s not just the tourists chasing the Cinemax version of bad behavior. On March 9, Pawn Stars star Chumlee — he’s the one who looks like Dom DeLuise if he’d been raised by Limp Bizkit — was arrested in Las Vegas on drug and weapons charges. While searching his house, officers found marijuana, methamphetamine, drug pipes and, most troublingly, a “Chum Chum Room with Dancing Pole.” Yeep! Less embarrassing would have been police finding a human-flesh notebook filled with tiny, spidery serial-killer handwriting. However, I do counsel a politic compassion toward his lapses in morals and

taste: Given the nation’s prevailing winds, you can reasonably expect Chumlee to become Nevada’s governor in 2018. The yikes of spring


egas marked spring as it usually does, with a ziplining teen ritually baptizing Fremont Street revelers with an insouciant stream of urine. March saw Vegas get dumped on in other ways, too: MGM hotel-casinos began their long-threatened practice of charging for parking at their resorts. Las Vegas, which considers free parking a timeless verity, lost — and is still in the process of losing — its shit. However, blessed consumerist distraction arrived in the nick of time: IKEA opened, mesmerizing us with sofas, tables and meatballs swaddled in generously umlauted Swenglish. (Trivia: The IKEA word for Las Vegas is Brokkenass.) Another promising sign the recession was over: The opening of T-Mobile Arena, an arena. In addition to hosting concerts and sports events, it should prove a fine venue for the gladiatorial monster-truck battles that will surely be demanded by the nation’s newly emerging moral majority. And why not a real-life Hunger Games arena? After all, it’s not as if our current system of resolving disputes, the courts, is in great shape. Case in point: On May 27, after a testy courtroom exchange, Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Conrad Hafen went nuclear, ordering Clark County Public Defender Zohra Bakhtary to be placed in handcuffs and seated next to the inmates. The episode was like a mouth-stinging Altoids of sexism, authoritarianism and plain old overreacting-mean-jerkism. But at least it was followed by a fruity, equally preciously metaphorical Jolly Rancher of comeuppance: Voters bounced Hafen out of office in June. [Swooping graphic in gleaming metal font pounds the screen in a two-beat thrum: FINAL. JUSTICE.] Oh: Also, Lake Mead plunged to a record low at 1,074 feet. This is startling. As the Water Authority so often reminds us, the water level dropping any lower runs the dire risk of waking the dormant layer of orcs, carp-men and C.H.U.D. who sleep fitfully in the lake’s hateful black mud.

December 2016


These things happen: Clockwise from top left, angry judge Conrad Hafen, Raiders owner Mark Davis, Ammon Bundy and folksy entourage

Storm warning


hile our courts took a cue from the cage match, the cage match took a quantum leap. In July, Las Vegas’ own UFC was sold for $4 billion to an ownership conglomerate, marking mixed martial arts’ continuing evolution from grim bloodsport to grim bloodsport commanding major television, licensing and advertising capital. Hmm: shouty smashmouth political campaigns, courts descending into angry lunacy, a multibillion-dollar MMA giant turning the street brawl into mainstream entertainment. The bellicose theme inspires me to double down on my earlier prediction: After Chumlee is elected governor, he will commission the construction of a new governor’s mansion, which will be a giant pair of truck nuts. But let’s reassure ourselves that not everything that happened this year represents a descent into coarseness and violence. The arts are alive and well. To wit, Sharknado: The 4th Awakens, set largely in Las Vegas, was released in July to rave reviews by seven bloggers. Move over, showgirl: Chippendales hunks battling flying sharks may indeed be the new Sin City icon, what with 22


December 2016

Vegas shows closing or set to close this year, including Jersey Boys at Paris, Jubilee! at Bally’s, Zarkana at Aria and Million Dollar Quartet at Harrah’s. Go ahead, think of a show. GUESS WHAT, IT’S CLOSED. “I feel like this is the abyss,” Travis Cloer of Jersey Boys told R-J columnist Mike Weatherford. To which I say, turn that abyss upside down — into the towering entertainment cyclone that Sharknado: The Vegas Musical could be! Or, for those with more rarefied tastes: Jaws of Life: Cirque du Soleil Presents Sharknàdo. (And surely someone out there is working on Hella Spiders: Web of Hypno-Comedy, right?) If only the story of two disaffected brothers leading the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge office was a musical farce. In September, brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy — sons of Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy, whose 2014 standoff with the BLM likely emboldened the pair — and five others stood trial for the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, an inspired, principled stand against federal aggression ... or maybe just some spoiled white man-children playing fort. Evidence for the latter: After they finally surrendered, they left behind footie pajamas and Finding Dory Gummy Snacks.

Meanwhile, back in Nevada, the ever-simmering rhetorical question, “Who run Bartertown?” was answered with a resounding: “Sheldie run Bartertown!” Meeting in an October special session, the Nevada Legislature voted to approve a controversial room-tax hike to fund $750 million of a $1.9 billion NFL stadium pushed by Sands Corp.’s Sheldon Adelson. Finally, a Thunderdome to call our very own! Will the stadium be a scammy drain on public coffers or a vitalizing piece of badly needed tourism infrastructure? Answer: Adelson is probably building Sinistar. (Note: An informal poll among my colleagues suggested the Sinistar reference might be a bit too obscure, but I’m keeping it in, at the risk of murfing the joke and ruining this essay’s effervescent comic pacing as I now explain that Sinistar was an ’80s arcade game featuring a gigantic talking sentient skull spaceship named Sinistar.) But when Adelson’s gigantic talking sentient skull spaceship is gnashing away on City Hall and all seems lost, at least we can give ourselves the dubious consolation of remembering that on October 19, Las Vegas hosted the third presidential debate at UNLV, a night that will go down in history as the memetic birthplace of #badhombres, #yourethepuppet and, of course, #nastywoman. But they don’t seem so funny now, do they? And from the perch of retrospection, the hard truth of November looms, yuge and inescapable, a swirling Jupiter of history. Here we all thought Trump’s campaign was just him having a good time, not thinking anyone would notice. Now we know better: It feels like the abyss. And yes, I say that with BREATHLESS APOCALYPTIC EMPHASIS!!!

P h o t o g r a p h y : A s s o c i a t e d pRESS




On evening of of another another installment installment of of the the Desert DesertCompanion Companion OnOctober October27, 27,Desert DesertCompanion Companion readers readers and and guests guests enjoyed enjoyed aa lively lively evening Pub enjoyed games, games, drinks, drinks, live live entertainment, entertainment,and andaavariety varietyof of PubCrawl; Crawl;this thistime timeat atGalleria Galleria Mall Mall at at Sunset Sunset in in Henderson. Henderson. Guests Guests enjoyed appetizers Larsen’s Grill, Grill, and and Bravo Bravo Cucina Cucina Italiana. Italiana.Check Checkout outall allthe the appetizersat at44participating participating restaurants: restaurants: Red Red Robin, Robin, World World of of Beer, Beer, Larsen’s photos photoson on


D Man With his outsize expansion plans, swashbuckling Downtown casino boss Derek Stevens bids to join the roster of legendary Fremont Street characters B y Ja s o n S c av o n e


erek Stevens is giving away his car. Okay, it’s not his car, the white Shelby GT350 Mustang with the “Longbar” license plate parked outside the Third Street Stage on Fremont Street. He leans in conspiratorially and whispers, “I paid a lot of money for that car.” It’s the end of a seven-month “Win Derek’s Car” promotion at The D. You can tell because that’s one of the eight patches on Stevens’ black blazer with gold brocade sleeves, all of them promoting his casino, or the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, or


december 2016

Banksy’s Celebrity Golf Tournament, the Vegas Internet Mafia Family Picnic or Stevens’ various social media handles. There are about 30 people onstage, winners of monthly drawings for slot players. There are about another hundred in the crowd, some friends and family, some just drawn by a thing on a stage. The people onstage all get a box, but only one will contain the key that starts the Mustang. The rest get a D-branded flashlight. If qualifying players had to book another couple nights at The D for a return trip to have a shot at the car, so much the better.

While each contestant is called to pick out their box, Stevens, standing offstage amid a circle of casino executives, peels off a few dollars from a gangster roll to have one of his subordinates run for water. One Barbara Alexander of Indiana turned out to be the Shelby’s key-master, and Stevens cuts through the mob to meet her. She’s shaking, but he soothes her enough that she’s able to drive across a crowded Fremont Street with a representative from the casino. After a few minutes, it’s upstairs to a private party for participants in the golf invitational. Stevens marches to the back of the room, ingratiating himself into circles the same way every time: When he wants to squeeze in, he pats the back of the guy on his left while turning to shake hands with the guy on his right. There aren’t many women in the room, but the ones who are there rush to Stevens for selfies, for shots of the

P h oto g r a p h y b r e n t h o l m e s

Join Us! just the way he likes it. There’s a slot tournament he has to host and a live podcast taping to get to and drinks to be had with customers at the Longbar. It’s another night at The D. In three years or so, when he opens the first brand-new casino on Fremont in decades, you wonder how he’ll be able to split his time. ‘DEMOLISH THE WHOLE BLOCK’


blazer, and, in one case, for a pic with her mouth near Stevens’ nether regions, straight out of Middle Aged Ladies Gone Moderately Wild and clearly making him uncomfortable. That discomfort isn’t an aw-shucks put-on. While people might flock to a casino owner for any number of reasons — outré social media personality and flashy sartorial choices among them — it was a mode Stevens had to learn to adjust to. “It’s funny, to have been with him when he very first showed up, and to hang out with him now nine years down the road,” Michael Storm says. Storm, now the general manager of Hooters Casino Hotel, worked for Stevens for eight years. “He’s become a big part of Downtown. It’s difficult to realize you are that person when you just think of yourself like anybody else, and I think he does.” Stevens works his way through four circles of golfers in about five minutes,

ugsy Siegel came to Las Vegas because of the mob’s horse-racing wire. Benny Binion came fleeing a violent Dallas turf war. Stevens came because of debt. Not as exciting, as founding mythologies go, but it does have the advantage of being legal. In 1993, Stevens assumed control of the auto-parts-manufacturing business his grandfather had started in Warren, Michigan, in 1912. He was 26, fresh from the Wayne State MBA program, and found himself running the company after the CEO suddenly stepped down. Stevens accepted the job on an interim basis. After 10 years, he finally asked to have that dropped from his title. One of his responsibilities was managing the business’ investments, and buying up debt was one of the areas Stevens liked to play in. The Riviera became an attractive option not only because of its financial difficulties or because Stevens dug Nevada’s lack of state income tax, but because the lessons of the auto industry post-9/11 were fresh in his mind. The industry took a hit. The flow of cars rolling off Detroit’s assembly lines slowed to a trickle, and no foreign companies were buying his parts — sometimes by protectionist law. “I thought the rate of return was pretty good considering I thought the risk was low,” he says of the Riviera. “Not for the operating business. I had no confidence in the operating business making it, but on the debt, it was secured by 26 acres. Then, after Riviera went bankrupt in 2010, all the debt-holders ended up getting equity in it.” Stevens was the one who advocated shutting down the Riviera down to the rest of the board. The building’s bones, he said, were beyond repair. The Las



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profile The facelift at The D took it from dreary grind joint to a place that felt more in line with modern Las Vegas. Stevens shot from the hip, and it paid off. Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority would eventually voice its agreement with dynamite. Meanwhile, by 2006, Stevens and his brother Gary had taken control of the Golden Gate, their foothold in Downtown, and set about renovating it. This time, the bones were good. They added Fitzgerald’s in 2011 and turned it into The D within a year. The facelift at The D took it from dreary grind joint to a place that felt more in line with modern Vegas. Just like at the Golden Gate, Stevens and his small crew shot from the hip, and it paid off. “I remember the very first financial meeting I had with Derek,” Storm says. “He said, ‘The one thing I need to tell you is we’re going to eliminate all of the red tape. We will never be competitive if it takes us six months to make a decision.’ I don’t know if we were just lucky or if Derek is a genius, but we had really positive results near across the board.” Stevens bought the Las Vegas Club in August 2015, and this year added to his collection with La Bayou, Girls of Glitter Gulch and Mermaids. When Stevens came to Fremont Street, there were eight major properties under the canopy, including the Plaza. Stevens now controls three of them. Or, more precisely, he will, after his plans for the block on the east side of Fremont, between Main and First streets, come to fruition. On that, Stevens is unequivocal about the shape his vision is taking. “I’m going to demolish everything,” he says. “It’s going to be one big block. There was a lot of lead in [the Las Vegas Club] and a lot of asbestos. We were able to clean the building because we knew it was going to be a lot less expensive when you have a clean building to [demolish]. I limited our work to that because I felt there was a potential of a much bigger play, and that was to try to talk to [Granite Gaming Group CEO] Steve Burnstine and see if we could buy the Glitter Gulch and Mermaids. It opens up a whole city block. After we bought Vegas Club in Au-


december 2016

gust ’15, we did not spend any money on architectural drawings. The closest we had was me and my brother sketching away.” They’re in a process of dealing with entitlement issues surrounding the alleys behind the Glitter Gulch and Mermaids parcels. After that, Stevens ballparks another six to eight months of demolition and 18 months to build the new resort, the name of which he hasn’t released yet. An opening date of 2019 isn’t off the table, though 2020 might be more realistic. ‘STEVE WYNN FANBOY’


he same night he gave away the car, he let a group of Vegas-philes say goodbye to an old friend. The Vegas Internet Mafia Family Picnic is an annual gathering of Vegas enthusiasts, organized by a confederation of Vegas websites and podcasts. It’s not the kind of event Caesars Palace would be clamoring to land, but Stevens has hosted it since 2013. At the end of the night, the event sent its people on a scavenger hunt to find the location of the after-party. Stevens’ gift to the group was to let them into the shuttered Glitter Gulch, operating that night as the Dark Bar. Which was appropriate, as the lights were already off. It was a populist gesture, the kind Stevens specializes in, but it was also a rare moment of nostalgia. Stevens was unmoved by the Riviera’s history when he suggested it be shuttered. La Bayou was the site of the Northern Club, awarded the first gaming license in Las Vegas in 1931. It was torn down over the course of a couple of days. Mermaids opened in 1956 as the Silver Palace, and it soon will meet the same fate. Yet Stevens isn’t indifferent to Las Vegas history. He’s studied the guys who came before him, especially the gunslingers who were out there running things on their own wits and guts — especially Steve Wynn. “I love reading stories about Bill Boyd and Benny Binion and Steve Wynn. You could call me a Steve Wynn fanboy,” he

says. “It’s important to learn from what he did, but it’s also important to be realistic about the era and the times. I can’t deny I’ve had a few nights wishing I was younger and I ran into Michael Milken before there was anything called junk bonds.” Wynn got his start in Downtown, at the Nugget, before methodically expanding his empire and taking enough calculated risks to put himself at the top of the Las Vegas food chain by being both unsparingly unsentimental — RIP, Dunes and Desert Inn — yet savvy enough to stay ahead of his customers, delivering what they want before they know they want it. He had a little showman in him, too. He could even play man of the people from time to time. It’s hard to imagine Jim Murren or Sheldon Adelson riding Slotzilla. But it’s just as hard to imagine Wynn pressing the flesh with the low-rollers at the Longbar. Stevens grafted Wynn’s lessons to his hands-on, charismatic, freewheeling style — just like his forebears who hung their names in neon all over the valley. When he goes back to Detroit, Stevens trades the brocade blazers for a conservative blue suit. But if you really want to see the yin and yang of the Las Vegas casino operator in play, consider The D’s logo, two pinup legs thrust into the air with a pair of red platform heels crowning what is, almost certainly, Quentin Tarantino’s favorite piece of casino marketing. When the Stevens brothers took over Fitzgerald’s, the building’s windows were a mess. They were mismatched, and many were broken. It was going to cost $7 million to replace them, and Derek Stevens balked. Gary suggested they wrap the building. Derek didn’t even know what that meant, but when he found out about how much it would save in repairs and utilities, he agreed. They sat around a steakhouse table and kicked around ideas about how to feature their dancing dealers before settling on the legs. “That was about it,” Derek Stevens says. “There was no big focus group or anything. We just said, ‘Oh, let’s try that.’ In a big corporation if you came up with an idea to put legs with red shoes up the whole side of a building, there would probably be a lot of meetings.”

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december 2016



at first bite 46


table for two 48 cocktail of the month 51

Our c i ty's be st spots to eat & drink

Savoir faire is everywhere: Oh La La French bistro's mussels and fries prepared in white wine and garlic.

P hoto g ra p h y By christopher smith

December 2016


Dining out

at first bite

The French inflection In chain-heavy west valley, Oh La La embarks on an indie journey to France (with a layover in Little Italy) b y d e b b i e l e e


he American idea of a good bistro is a place evocative of Julia Child’s kitchen: cozy and convivial, serving fare that’s satisfying but unpretentious (albeit extra generous with the butter and heavy cream). Oh La La French Bistro, now open in a quiet pocket of Summerlin, almost fits the bill. Waitstaff and management dote on guests, eager to create a warm dining experience, and a solid menu of familiar (mostly) French dishes makes it a promising addition to the neighborhood. To start, there is classic steak tartare, minced fine and studded with capers, as well as proper escargots, each morsel resting in its own pool of garlic and parsley butter. If raw beef and baked snails don’t whet your appetite, try the pistachio-crusted goat cheese. An entire hockey puck of chèvre is baked in a porcelain crock until warm and spreadable. A dollop of confit


December 2016

There are also a few unexpected options. Perhaps a Francophobe would be won over by the hachis Parmentier, which is just a fancy way to say cottage pie. The onion jam and a drizzle of honey balance casserole of ground beef, minced vegetathe tart grassiness of the cheese. bles and fluffy mashed potato crust is the However, traditionalists may find ultimate cold-weather comfort dish. Eggs fault with the La Lyonnaise salad. Lacy mimosa is more reminiscent of a Midwest blonde leaves of frisée are properly bathed potluck than a dinner in Provence, but in a warm vinegar-spiked dressing and they’re a tasty shared snack nonetheless. topped with a poached egg, but the tradiOh La La is co-owned by Richard Tertional, chewy batons of salt-cured lardons ghazi, who oversees the dining room, are replaced with thin shards of ordinary while business partner Nicolas Sillac breakfast bacon strips. mans the fort at L’Osteria del Forno, the duo’s Italian restaurant in San FrancisFor entrees, a classic Bavette a l’eschalot (flank steak and fries) with a glass of red co. L'Osteria is located in the historically wine is always a reliable choice at a bistro Italian-American neighborhood of North or brasserie. I opted for its pesBeach, which could explain catarian cousin, moules marina few red sauce influences Oh l a l a iere (mussels and fries), which at the bistro. A compli2120 N. Rampart were fragrant with white wine mentary basket of bread Blvd. #150 and garlic. An order of lamb (lined with red-and-white 702-222-3522 ohlalafrench checkered paper, of course) daube arrived in the form of gamey but succulent nuggets is not stuffed with slices of HOURS of meat, aggressively perbaguette but planks of foTue-Fri, 11a-10p fumed with rosemary. caccia. The lamb is served Sat-Sun 5-10p

P h oto g r a p h y C h r i sto p h e r S m i t h

Quelle saveur: Left, Oh La La's mussels and fries in white wine and garlic; below, cottage pie with ground beef and vegetables.

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on a bed of boxed fettuccine. And the garlic on the mussels is applied with a heavy hand — mine tasted as if an entire bulb was chopped and strewn over the shells, raw. But the overall flavor at Oh La La remains decidedly French. I don’t recall the last time I saw a small local restaurant cook something en papillote, or in parchment paper, as they do with a Cornish game hen. Furthering the French connection, the restaurant hosts special evenings to celebrate French wines. Locals are also encouraged to sample a limited lunchtime menu of classic sandwiches: pan bagnat (think Tuna nicoise salad between bread), merguez (a spicy North African lamb sausage) with mustard, and the typical Parisian ham/butter/ pickle combo. Oh La La receives high marks for attentive, considerate service, even if timing is a kink that needs ironing out. (“I’m sorry the starters didn’t arrive at the same time, but we want you to enjoy your salad while the poached egg is still warm,” advised my server.) On a recent visit, Terghazi greeted every guest with genuine gratitude for his or her patronage. Oh La La also deserves credit for providing scratch-made food in a neighborhood that isn’t known for intimate momand-pops. Where another restaurant might overlook house-made desserts in favor of something outsourced, the kitchen offers three dead simple preparations: classic chocolate mousse, a luscious, eggy crème caramel and … tiramisu? There’s that North Beach flavor again. I’d prefer a tarte tatin or profiteroles, but perhaps I’m just being a stickler for authenticity. Better to take a cue from Ms. Child, who once said, “In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

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December 2016


Dining out

You like it when he's Angry: Shrimp with shishito peppers and sriracha cream sauce, left; filet mignon with classic Oscar and Tuscan potatoes, right; Steak au Poivre, below

Table for Two

A couple of steak holders Our diners kick it east-side style in Sam’s Town’s new flagship dining spot, The Angry Butcher Steakhouse B y A n d r e w K i r a ly a n d S c o t t D i c k e n s h e e t s


eeling starvacious — Andrew’s word, and a hint of the tasty linguistic mignon ahead — we roll into the recently opened Angry Butcher Steakhouse in Sam’s Town, ready for a serious meat-up. Seems like a nice place, all things considered, and by “all things considered” we mean the off-off-off-Strip location. “Driving down Boulder Highway just puts your mind in a low-expectation state, you know?” Andrew muses. “So I’m pleasantly surprised.” The ambience is reserved but easy going, the menu is expansive and reasonably priced. We secure an “outside” table on a terrace overlooking Mystic Falls, an atrium attraction bursting with plants, trees and animatronic creatures, some of which zap lasers from their eyes during a periodic show. “If your steak’s not cooked enough,” Andrew promises, “the laser eyes of the cougar should finish it off.” Scott: I wonder if the Butcher is angry in part because he’s read some of the Yelp reviews. The overall rating is pretty high, but there are a couple of negative reviews. One gave it no stars, though that sounds like someone who’s on their own hyperbolic fantasy ride. Andrew: I think you just described every Yelp review. I’ve never heard the phrase, “So


December 2016

I read this thoughtful, even-handed Yelp review ...” But I’m just glad the east side has something approaching a nice restaurant. At random times throughout the night, because I’m glad the east side has some purportedly fine dining, I may go (affects a falsetto while throwing a three-fingered E sign with his right hand) “east side!” (We order an appetizer of batter-fried rock shrimp with peppers.) Scott: We could have ordered the “Fat Oysters,” but I’m not comfortable body-shaming the bivalves. Andrew: Mmm, maybe we will have oysters. I love oysters. (Some are added to the order — half-shell, not “Fat.”) Andrew: I think The Angry Butcher is going to be a great addition to this national conservation area, Mystic Falls. Scott: I hope Obama uses his executive powers to preserve this before he leaves office.

P h oto g r a p h y B r e n t H o l m e s


Andrew: I hope the Bundys don’t take it over in a standoff with federal officials. I have to say, even though this environment is completely artificial, this feels al fresco. I think they pump in al fresco scent. Scott: It does have a gardeny feel. Andrew: Can I hold your hand? Scott: Maybe later, after the oysters.

HOT shishito!

Scott: I doubt these shrimp were made to appeal to foodies, but they’re good eatin’. Someone put thought into these flavor combinations. Andrew: Oh, my God — my nose is running from the shishito peppers! Scott: I think you just wrote the headline for this story. Andrew: Sorry, is the cataract of snot running down my lip grossing you out? Scott (lying): Happens to me all the time. Andrew: Ah, that feels good! Purgative! Cathartic! Angry! Those are the hottest shishito peppers I’ve ever had! How are you doing? You seem to be doing okay. Scott: Yeah. (Gestures to Mystic Falls.) I wonder if they grow these peppers fresh in their garden. (Jonathan takes our order: a 7-ounce filet for Andrew, with the “classic Oscar” treatment — crabmeat, hollandaise and asparagus— plus Steak au Poivre for Scott, with shared sides of Tuscan fried potatoes and more asparagus. The oysters arrive.) Andrew (falsetto): East side! Scott: You should probably contain your enthusiasm until you try them. Andrew: East-side oysters — I think that’s something you can get on Boulder Highway. (With a mighty slurp, oysters are consumed.) Andrew: Ahhh ... I love oysters, and what better place to eat them than the middle of the desert? It’s hard to judge oysters, but these taste fresh and vibrant. I’m gonna be like, “For dessert, I’d like some oysters.”

Scott: What cut of steak are you going for? Andrew: I dunno. I don’t know much about the different cuts. I might get the filet mignon — that’s the most tender, murderlicious cut, right? (Jonathan, our server, brings cocktails and the rock shrimp appetizer.) Jonathan: The green peppers are shishito peppers, not really spicy at all. And the sauce is sriracha cream. Andrew: Amen, expense account! Have WE GET THE MEATS you had shishito peppers before? (Andrew is talking about the drama Scott: At Chow, where they grill them. Andrew: They present as though they’re of chess when the entrees arrive. Scott really spicy, but they’re more smoky. (Eats is disappointed that the “classic Oscar” one.) These actually have a little kick. bears little resemblance to former Mayor Scott: At Chow, you can get a bowl of Goodman. It’s a scoop of crabmeat atop them as an appetizer. They’re great. the filet.) Andrew (in “east-side” falsetto): These Andrew: Here we go! have a kick! (Sips cocktail.) Ah, but this Scott: So, first thing: There’s a lot here. Lotta steak. Angry Butcher cocktail! Distilled from the sweat of the Angry Butcher Andrew (trying filet and himself! It bathes my burning wine): Ooh! Ooh! The yinThe Angry taste buds. yang! “Andrew was just Bu tc her (Sound of Andrew’s taste buds transported to a planet of Inside Sam’s Town screaming like little babies.) transcendent meat- and 702-456-7777 Andrew: For me, sriracha will wine-based pleasure.” You never jump the shark. Put it on know what’s nice? My steak anything, and I would eat it. seems to be pretty ably and Hours Sun-Thu 5-10p


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Fri-Sat 5-11p December 2016


Dining out nicely done. But the fact that it’s in such an unpretentious locals setting kind of takes this quanta of “I have to enjoy this pleasure” off, and I can just enjoy it. Scott: It shows how important setting is. Andrew: You don’t feel that weird social-anxiety vibration. And yet, there’s the great view of this national conservation area. Soon to be taken over by the Bundys. Scott (chewing): Definite aggressive beefiness to the steak, which I like. Andrew: Whats the “au Poivre”? Pepper? (Yes, crusted on pan-roasted flat-iron steak. Andrew tries a sample.) Mmm, peppery crunch ... yeah, yours definitely has a lot more meaty heft. It’s got a nice bite to it. Scott: You have to like the peppercorn, and I do, because it builds over the course of the meal. And I love the crust on these potatoes. Andrew: I hate it when potatoes come out limp-ass, like 2 a.m. Wendy’s drive-through fries — it’s the saddest thing in the world.

But these actually have some life. You know why? ’Cause they’re from the (falsetto) eastside! My one small criticism is that they should maybe come with a kind of sauce. I want to dip them. Not because they’re dry; it’s that you want to have fun with it. Would it be uncouth to ask for a side of ketchup? Wait — I’m at Sam’s Town. I could ask for a side of motor oil, and it would be fine. So, what’s the last steak house you went to? Scott: Maybe the steak house at Circus Circus? Talk about your unpretentious settings! The fact that you’re at Circus Circus informs the whole experience in some weird way. Good food, though. Andrew: It’s not that steaks are hard to do, but they’re easy to get lazy about doing. My impression of this place — and maybe this is the penumbra of them being so new and on their game — is that they’re paying attention. To the service, to the food. (Music wells.)

Andrew: Looks like they’re about to start Mystic Falls. Tell me, have you crowdsurfed before? (Music soars, lights flare, a child is sacrificed to the laser-eyed wolf, the show ends. Dessert arrives.) Andrew (seeing his bread pudding): It’s a work of art! Scott: That’s huge. Maybe that’s sriracha caramel. That would jump the shark. Andrew: I’m going to be here eating this until midnight. (We finish before midnight. Time for a thoughtful digestif to wrap it up. Andrew?) Andrew: Here’s the thing. This is the east side — (falsetto) east side! — it’s Sam’s Town, and people who don’t frequent Sam’s Town probably have some notion of what it’s like. But I gotta say, they do a pretty good job. This has been edited, condensed, chopped and lightly fried for length and clarity.



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Cocktail of the month

The final act and the silver screen at The Barrymore

Happy fifth birthday, Barrymore! *party horn, confetti toss* Not an insignificant milestone for a retro-luxe gem hidden in a sleepy timeshare tower on desolate Convention Center Drive. But The Barrymore seems to be getting by just fine, and a handful of new cocktails, tied to its Golden Age of Hollywood theme, suggests it doesn’t plan on a curtain call anytime soon. Two drinks from the new roster stand out; one for its fun, one for its elegance. The Silver Screen (right) is based on Viniq (a vodka, Moscato and fruit bomb) and Absolut Elyx vodka. It bursts with a round, grapey flavor that may require a reminder to slow, the hell, down. The Final Act presents as a modified Aviation, with barrel-aged gin, maraschino liqueur, yellow chartreuse and lime juice — spritely and kicky, though, thanks to the herbs and citrus. Two fine cocktails worthy of toasting the birthday of a fine restaurant. *confetti toss, drink another* Andrew Kiraly The Barrymore 99 Convention Center Drive 702-407-5303

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A community-based employment program at Boulder Station is part of a new wave in job training — and civil rights — for adults with intellectual disabilities. By Heidi Kyser

Photography by Michael Rudin

december 2016



Like most introverts, Pamela Stevens is stingy with conversational details. It’s all “Yes” and “No” and gazing into her soda straw until I finally hit on something she’s interested in: her husband John’s job as a bounty hunter. On this subject, she regales me with lengthy descriptions of the techniques used to capture legal fugitives, pausing only for quick bites of her lunch at Slices Pizzeria in Boulder Station. “They (John and his business partner) always give people a second chance,” she confides. “If they admit that they have a warrant, then it goes a lot better for them.” Stevens also goes into great detail about her own job, as a buser at the casino café, where she’s just finished her shift. She spends another 15 minutes of conversation just on the required “side work”: rolling up silverware in napkins, trundling dishes off to the washing room, that sort of thing. But nothing, other than Stevens’ borderline-obsessive love of her job — and the missing thumb on her right hand — seems unusual about the 44-year-old being here, enjoying a slice after a busy morning in which she made $12 an hour plus tips. It is remarkable, though, for several reasons, all related to her having an intellectual disability. Researchers estimate that 80 percent of intellectually or developmentally disabled (“IDD”) adults are un- or under-employed. Until recently, there were scant programs like the one Stevens went through at Opportunity Village that help IDD adults find jobs in the community, rather than inside institutions doing assembly-line or craft shop-type work. And in a city that runs on gaming, only one corporation in the industry, Station Casinos, participates in the Opportunity Village community employment program. To understand why this is, one must ask uncomfortable questions: Are IDD s t a f f memb er s welcome at pr ivat e establishments, whose profits depend on image control and customer satisfaction? Should employers be forced to pay at least minimum wage to people with disabilities when they require more training and hand-holding than other employees? And isn’t piece work, even if it pays less than the minimum wage, better than no job at all if it’s helping IDD adults be active,


december 2016

socialize and learn valuable skills? As of today, there are no straightforward answers to these questions. Instead, there are the beginnings of slow progress toward a more equitable future. Similar to minorit y a nd LGBTQ activ ists, advocates for the IDD community believe equal employment opportunity is for all Americans, including Stevens. “It really is part of the civil rights movement,” says Cara Paoli, the state’s head of aging and disability services. “We’re pushing things forward, trying to work with employers to teach the value of

hires with disabilities. There’s so much that you can accomplish as a company by taking these individuals in. Right now, there just aren’t a lot of companies that realize that.”

Keeping pace

My food service work experience is limited to six months at a Tastee Freez in high school, so the chaos and din of the huge kitchen in the back of Boulder Station’s Grand Café is new to me and, frankly, a little scary. But in a T-like intersection

HARD WORKING: Clockwise from far left, Pamela Stevens, Kimberly Newman and Sam Sedgwick have benefitted from Pathway to Work.

joining the areas where meals are plated, food is cooked and dishes are washed, Stevens remains unfazed as she dispatches loads of plates and bowls and glasses and cups that she’s just hustled in from the packed dining room. Busing entails more than I would have guessed. Once dishes are picked up — the only part I see from my usual vantage point as a diner — and carried to the back, the remaining food and liquid have to be scraped off or emptied into the trash, and then the dishes are staged on a tall rack. From there, they’re sorted and placed on huge wheeled carts for delivery to the washing room, where an industrial, conveyor-belt operation moves them through several stages of sanitization. “If it’s not busy, we’ll help get them started on the washing,” Stevens tells me, as she somehow finds time to give me a tour, despite an alarming number of dishes piling up back at her station. As I watch her balance the differently weighted responsibilities of clearing, cleaning and

resetting tables with managing the flow of dishes back-ofhouse, it occurs to me that, college degree or not, I’d need some guidance to master this job. How did she do it? “The training lasts anywhere from three to six months, depending on the individual and the job,” says Julia Hopkins. Hopkins is the job coach for participants in Pathway to Work, Opportunity Village’s two-year-old vocational program that trains IDD adults on the job. Hopkins oversees up to five trainees at a time in Boulder Station’s Grand Café and internal maintenance department. They meet her each morning at Opportunity Village’s Henderson campus and take a bus together to the casino. There, Hopkins hands off food-and-beverage trainees to Betty Martin and janitors to Jesus Garcia. They spend five hours a day on-site, rotating through various jobs — busing, cleaning bathrooms, keeping slot areas tidy — under the direct supervision of Martin and Garcia. Hopkins floats, assisting and trouble-shooting where necessary. At the end of the morning, she rounds up the trainees and they head back to Opportunity Village for a couple hours of classroom work. Several things can happen once a Pathway to Work trainee is deemed ready to work: He may apply for a permanent position at Boulder Station, if one is open; that was the case for Stevens, who’s now a full-fledged employee there. Trainees have also applied for — and gotten, in some cases — jobs at Palace Station and another Pathway to Work partner, Get Fresh produce distributor. Others have

used their Pathway to Work experience to land jobs at Boca Park Animal Hospital, DiBella’s Flowers, Walmart and other businesses. If necessary, a job coach will continue to check in with an employed former trainee from time to time, to make sure everything’s going okay. The state of Nevada funds Pathway to Work, which is a huge selling point that Stacy Carlston and Judy Swain use when t hey ma ke t hei r pitch to potent ia l employer partners like Station Casinos. As assistant manager and manager, respectively, of Opportunity Village’s community outreach department, Carlston and Swain run several other programs besides Pathway to Work. “Where else do you get to try out an employee for six months — for free — before you actually offer them a position?” Swain says. “And the person can be in Pathway to Work on a Friday, and start being a Station Casinos team member on Monday, all ready to go. They know the property. They know the job. They know all of the other team members. So it’s a very easy transition.” Beyond that, the employer gets someone, like Stevens, who’s thrilled to be there. “Not only are (Opportunity Village clients) good team members, but also they’re long-term team members,” says Maria Trejo, the team member relations manager who’s in charge of Pathway to Work at Boulder Station. “Vegas is one of those cities where there’s a lot of turnover, especially in the casino industry. Our Opportunity Village team members, they stay, they stick. So that’s a great tangible benefit.” Even the more abstract, feel-good reasons to hire an IDD employee fit with today’s corporate social responsibility plans: serve underserved communities, help every individual fulfill his potential, match the right citizen with the right job. Despite all this, staff from both Boulder Station and Opportunity Village had to overcome some fears and doubts. No other casino had participated in a program like this, and so much could go wrong. Trejo struggled, at first, to get buy-in from her team leaders, who would be key to the program’s success. But once the first group of five trainees, including Stevens, showed up, everyone’s fears were allayed.

december 2016


“People worry that (IDD adults) will have a seizure, become violent or selfharm,” Opportunity Village’s Carlston says. “You know, the things you see in movies, honestly. … When they visit our job sites, they get to see with their own eyes what somebody with an intellectual disability actually looks like. It’s not like in the movies. They’re just like anybody else, and they want the same opportunities that we have.” Moreover, Carlston says, every company that hires someone through her department reports the same thing: “Having this person employed here has changed our culture. They’ve lifted the mood in the whole department.” Trejo says another former Pathway to Work trainee now working at Boulder Station, Sam Sedgwick, walks the floor high-fiving his fellow team members, always with a cheerful greeting. Stevens is more circumspect than Sedgwick. When I ask her what it was like, hearing that she’d gotten the busing job, a full-time position with benefits at a casino corporation, paying 50 percent more than her last job, she laughs, and then her eyes tear up. “Very, very exciting,” she says. “A lot of paperwork to fill out, but very, very exciting.”

Life goes on

Stevens shifts back into single-word-answer mode when it comes to questions about her personal life. Small hints — her prematurely thinning hair and tired gaze, her remark about having to move to Las Vegas because her parents kicked her and her husband (then-boyfriend) out of their home — hint at hardship, but she’s not talking


December 2016

almost entirely around the about that; she’s focused on today. It takes a team: Stations challenges a family faced with “This job has made it to where Team Lead Betty helping its one member with my husband and I ... like on our Martin, left, Down syndrome become part anniversary, we’ve been able to trains Pathway of the mainstream world. go see some of the shows here in to Work “We’ve moved more from a Vegas,” she says. “We’ve been participants, paternalistic, medical model to able to catch up on some bills after which they a social model,” Jorwic says. that we have.” Moving into an can apply for “A job can be a linchpin to apartment complex near the full-time jobs. anybody becoming a back entrance to Boulder Station means she can walk to work, but she and successful member of the community. There’s a great deal of pride that they feel her husband are saving money for a car. Independence is not a new concept in having a paycheck, earning minimum for IDD adults, but it has seeped into wage, contributing to society.” Policies have prodded the evolution different areas of society at different times. Jonathan Lucus and Nicole Jor- along. Three years ago, with its blueprint wic, who lead employment efforts at for employing people with disabilities, The Arc, a national nonprofit for IDD the National Governors Association individuals, tick off the milestones that adopted the so-called “employment first” mark a gradual cultural shift over the philosophy with a five-point strategy for cultivating skilled state labor forces. last few decades. “There are people who call themselves Then, President Barack Obama signed the the ADA generation — people with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity disabilities born after ADA,” Jorwic says, Act (WIOA), which focused heavily on refer r i ng t o t he A mer ic a n s w it h vocational rehabilitation and training for Disabilities Act, which passed in 1990 and people with disabilities. Its final rules forbids employers from discriminating were issued this summer. Obama also against people with disabilities in hiring issued an executive order to make sure as well as accommodations. “You are that federal agencies are model employers, seeing more ‘typical’ kids going to class including hiring people with disabilities with kids with disabilities. They’re used where possible. Work goes hand-in-hand with education, to seeing them in their communities. You’re seeing them more integrated. That and Josh Baker, assistant professor of spejumps into being comfortable with seeing cial education at UNLV, says there’s been a coincidental evolution in educating IDD inthem in the workforce.” Lucus adds that The Arc invited the dividuals over the last 40 years. Whereas cast of Born This Way, an A&E reality se- the trend once was (and still is, in some ries in which all the main characters have places) to shunt them off to special-ed classDown syndrome, to make a special ap- es, new thinking favors integrating them as pearance at its annual convention this much as possible with other students. In year. The show reflects an evolution in so- 2013, Baker started Project Focus at UNLV, cietal norms since the early 1990s, when aiming to get young adults with intellectual another TV show, Life Goes On, revolved disabilities a higher education.

“The world is inclusive, so why do we separate them?” he asks. “At 18, we talk about the least restrictive environment. I argue that’s college. So why do people with intellectual disabilities have to watch their peers go off to college, while they’re not allowed? That’s why these programs exist.” He estimates there are 300 such programs nationwide, and that 200 are, like his, inclusive, meaning IDD students take the same classes as everybody else. Sounds promising, right? Here’s a reality check: Baker’s program has 10 students. Pathway to Work has 15. That’s 25 people out of a population numbering in the thousands. What about the rest? Opportunity Village clients run the gamut of disability, from those who need hands-on assistance to those, like Stevens, who can live and work independently. Corresponding to their varying abilities, the nonprofit has a range of programs that serve more than 1,100 people a month. One with the Clark County School District matches students with unpaid internship positions at other nonprofits around town. At employment resource centers on Opportunity Village’s three main campuses, clients are paid to complete contracts for jobs such as document shredding and button-making. The thrift store on Decatur Boulevard gives them the chance to work in retail. A nd ser v ice cont racts w it h ot her institutions — McCarran International Airport and Nellis Air Force Base, for instance — put clients to work in a variety of jobs, from maintenance to food service. “At the end of that spectrum, we have individuals who’ve gotten jobs at places like T-Mobile and TopGolf,” says Lynn Hunsinger, Opportunity Village’s director of program services. “We follow them along once or twice a month, supporting them to grow as employees, communicating with their supervisors, identifying advancement goals and making sure the other parts of their support system are coordinating.” Despite their efforts, Hunsinger and other executives in her position across the country find themselves in a bit of a quandary because of the push toward more f ully integ rated com munit y employment. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act discourages employers from paying IDD adults less

than minimum wage, which is still common practice in cases where clients work on projects at a piece rate. Consider a document-shredding contract, for instance, which might pay workers per pound of paper processed, rather than per hour. Referred to by experts as “facilitybased employment” or the “sheltered workshop model,” this type of project is typically done at an institution, in a cohort of fellow IDD employees. “The sheltered workshop model has become somewhat passé,” says Lucus, of The Arc. “A lot of states are transitioning away from that.” The potential for abuse is one reason, he says. Several watchdog groups track cases of exploitation; in one widely publicized example, Henry’s Turkey Service of Goldthwaite, Texas, was found guilty in 2013 of abuse and discrimination after forcing dozens of IDD men to work at an Iowa meat processing plant for $65 a month over nearly five decades. This couldn’t be further from the situation at Opportunity Village, however, where clients are not just called “VIPs,” but also treated accordingly. While working together on projects, they receive amenities to make their time on campus beneficial and fun. It gets them out of the house and teaches them job skills in an environment where they can safely socialize with their peers. The Arc’s Jorwic explains that the sheltered workshop model was considered innovative when it was introduced decades ago. Many strong, well-intentioned organizations continue using it with success, she adds. “Our position is that we need to phase them out while protecting the interests of individuals who’ve been doing this and supporting themselves this way, possibly for decades,” she says. Nevada is making some headway in this shift. According to Paoli’s data from the state’s Aging and Disability Services Division, 16 percent of the 2,528 intellectually disabled people served state-wide in jobs and day training programs in September were in integrated employment positions. In Clark County, the percentage is even higher — 20 percent. Still, OV’s Hunsinger says, community employment isn’t for everyone. “Our position is that there’s still a role for

campus-based programs, because not everybody is able to be successful and independent in the community,” Hunsinger says. “Some of them need more support to develop their skills. As regulations like WIOA roll out, the state is trying to get clarification on the direction that needs to be taken with this. That’s an ongoing conversation we’re having. … But our goal is still to be able to provide programs that will allow every individual to benefit from the training and support we can give them. And when we can, through a contract, convert them to minimum wage, we do.”

Where to?

After lunch with Pamela Stevens, I drop her off at her apartment complex a nd watch her wa nder, still sipping pensively on her soda, toward the building where I imagine her husband waits with tales of his day rounding up bad guys. She’s a long way from my own younger brother, Lance Kyser, who was born with an intellectual disability in 1972, the same year as Stevens. When describing Lance to people, I sometimes say, “He’s like Forrest Gump. He looks totally normal, but after talking to him for a minute, you suspect something is off.” Lance lives in his own house, but it’s just down the road from my parents’ farm in Roswell, N.M., where he was born. He’s availed himself of the scant services the town offers people in his situation, but has never held down a job for more than a couple years. He had a girlfriend for a while, but he’s alone now, dependent on my parents and his Social Security check. I wonder how Lance’s life would be different if he had a place like Opportunity Village to turn to, and a generous super v isor like Bet t y Ma r tin, who understands the importance of clearly and patiently repeating instructions until he gets them. It’s reassuring to me to know that Martin is out there — and her boss, Maria Trejo, and their contact at Opportunity Village, Stacy Carlston, and all the other people fighting for equal opportunities for Las Vegans who are like my brother. I wonder what the future holds for the funding that makes their jobs possible. I hope it’s still there for the next generation.

December 2016


Big red: Bazaar Meat’s beefsteak tomato tartare, with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, cucumbers and black olives


DECember 2016


rESTAURANT awards Disclaimer: As you dig into our annual honor roll of the valley’s best chefs and restaurants this year, you’ll come across the words revolution, revolutionize and revolutionary a lot, and you’ll start to wonder whether we should get a better thesaurus. But here’s the thing: The words fit. From hidden corners of Chinatown to suburban strip malls to the fine dining citadels of The Strip, 2016 was, well, a year of culinary revolutions. Some restaurants pursued uncompromising purity and simplicity; others poured their energy into whimsical, rarefied invention; still others practiced a principled devotion to great food that appeals to real people. The 2016 Restaurant Awards mark a dining scene in happy tumult. Who knew revolution could taste so good? PHOTOGRAPHY BY SABIN ORR and CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Our j u dg e s Jim Begley is a freelance food writer whose work appears in the Las Vegas Weekly, Las Vegas Magazine and Desert Companion. John Curtas is a longtime dining critic who writes at EatingLV. com and appears on KSNV Channel 3. Debbie Lee is a former pastry chef and Desert Companion’s dining critic. Mitchell Wilburn works at a fine food store. His food writing appears in Vegas Magazine and Desert Companion.

dece m b e r 2 0 1 6


new Restaurant

of the Year

New Restaur ant of the Year Libe rtine Social

Vegas needed a certain kind of restaurant in 2016 — bold, playful, irreverent — and Libertine Social is it Libertine Social didn’t merely open this year — it blazed onto the dining scene in a surge of hype that was, for once, justified. It was a fitting way to start given the high-wattage personalities behind the project: The brain behind one of the most innovative haute-cuisine spots in town, Shawn McLain of Sage, teamed LIBERTINE SOCIAL up with legendary mixologist In Mandalay Bay Tony Abou-Ganim to fuse 702-632-7200 Kentucky-fried thighs), creative gastropub cuisine and quivering in gastronomic world-class cocktails. pleasure from the perfect It was an instant hit. Where “Modern Fried Egg,” or digging into the else can you see a simple, fire-oven “Zabuton” steak, which is braised for 24 flatbread with country ham and pinehours, finished on an Argentine-style apple on a menu alongside the “Modern wood grill and topped with smoked Fried Egg,” a single eggshell cradling onion petals and chimichurri. Libertine an emulsified corn pudding, sous-vide Social’s desserts, meanwhile, embody egg white foam and a dollop of Amerithe whimsical interplay between food can sturgeon caviar? The playful tension and drink, each based on the flavors of between the menu’s hearty eats and a classic cocktail, from the margarita high-concept dishes is part of the fun, donut to rye Manhattan bread pudwhether you’re noshing on grilled sausage, ding. (And speaking of its cocktails, the taking down a whole Petaluma chicken best place to enjoy them is at Libertine (roasted airline breasts and deboned,


DECember 2016

Social studies: Top left, sausage board with merguez, hot link, bratwurst, sauerkraut and peppers; top right, Petaluma chicken with truffled potatoes and Brussels sprouts

Social’s “Arcade Bar” tucked in the back of the main lounge, with its expanded menu of Abou-Ganim’s mind-bending drinks in an intimate setting.) All this dizzying culinary sophistication has a simple philosophical foundation. Libertine Social is the product of giving complete control to two trusted, proven visionaries who chop and stir to a credo of “If it tastes good, do it.” It’s a jaunty kickstart of the revitalization of Mandalay Bay’s rep as a dining destination, and it’s the restaurant Las Vegas needed — and, blessedly got — in 2016. MW

DEALicious Meal of the Year Be e f k abob at Pro K abob Pe rsian Cuisine

These perfectly cooked skewers sing with just the right amount of spice You might not be familiar with Afghani cuisine. But after a trip to Pro Kabob Persian Cuisine, you’ll soon be able to discern between chalaow and qalebi palao with the best of them — because I’m confident you’ll be making many return visits. The newly opened mom-and-pop operation focuses on skewers. And while there are multiple protein options, the hearty, cumin-laden beef kabobs rank among the best. Order them with the intensely addictive qalebi palao — a flavorful brown rice pilaf strewn with raisins and shredded carrots hearty enough to suffice as a meal unto itself — and you’ve got enough food for multiple meals. Explore the housemade sauces, as both the cilantro/vinegar chutney and spicy avocado complement the hearty beef chunks — and don’t overlook the shakers of sour grape powder whose tartness provides a foil to an otherwise earthy dish. While a kabob plate should suffice for all but the most voracious appetites, the mantu and boolani are also worthy of your time (and stomach space). Mantu

CUT Pastry Che f of the Year Nicole E rle at CUT

A spirit of surprise guides this master’s hand in creating desserts to remember

are tender steamed beef dumplings served with a combination of yogurt and tomato sauces, while the boolani is a vegetable-stuffed flatbread. If you don’t have room for it all, trust me — you’ll be back. JB 3854 W. Sahara Ave. 702-586-9229

Pastry chefs are a beleaguered group these days. Between the corporate downsizing of the Great Recession and the rise of haute casual dining, employing a skilled technician to craft 50 to 100 plates of sweet, decadent artistry is a luxury few of them will spring for. It’s something of a dirty little secret these days that quite a few top-end restaurants now get their desserts wholesale rather than having them made to order. Swimming against this tide is the Wolfgang Puck family of restaurants. Every one of them employs a pastry chef, overseen by former Joël Robuchon pastry king Kamel Guechida, and because of this commitment, one of the best meat emporiums in the world also puts forth world-class desserts that, in some ways, outstrip the steaks. Nicole Erle got her start baking cakes as a teenager in her mother’s kitchen. Most kids save money from their first job for a car or clothes; she bought a KitchenAid mixer. As a native of upstate New York, she easily found her way to the Culinary Institute of America

In the Venetian

teaching kitchens of 702-607-6300 Hyde Park, and then into the massproduction machinery of the MGM. A year of serving high rollers at The Mansion at the MGM got her noticed by Guechida, and before you can say crême brûlée, she was hand-tooling pastries for both Robuchon restaurants. Now, both of them have gone from refined French to the eclectic stylings of Puck, and Erle’s experience has paid off for diners who are looking for an eye-popping, fun and drop-dead delicious ending to their meal instead of same old-same old cheesecake. Take, for example, Erle’s cheesecake. It’s the Picasso of cheesecakes, a deconstructed, cubist amalgam of molded rounds, off-center almond graham cracker and brown sugar ice cream. If ever there was evidence of how a talented artisan makes a ho-hum standard sing, this is it. Her Baked Pear is another wonder: a luscious Bosc surprisingly stuffed with sweet mascarpone cream, atop a pecan cake, accompanied by a perfect sorbet. “A lot of people are going very simple with their desserts these days,” she says. “I like to give the guests unexpected twists with the desserts we serve.” With that spirit of playful surprise, Nicole Erle helps CUT serve the best desserts of any steakhouse in Vegas. JC

december 2016


Signature Dish of the Year Mode rn Frie d Egg at Libe rtine Social

This unassuming appetizer stuns with multiple levels of texture and flavor Chef Shawn McLain has a knack for signature dishes. His foie gras custard brûlée is one of our most iconic dishes in a city lacking a specific culinary identity. And with the opening of Libertine Social at Mandalay Bay, McLain and executive chef Jamaal Taherzadeh have another destination dish on their hands with the humbly named Modern Fried Egg. Che f of the Year Wilfrie d Be rge rhause n , Le Cirque

The restlessly innovative and cosmopolitan Bergerhausen is a chef Las Vegas can proudly call its own Naturally, Las Vegas is a magnetic market for celebrity chefs and top-tier culinary wizards. That’s wonderful, but when are we going to grow one we could call our very own? Very soon. We’re only now starting to see some promising names emerging on the Strip — talents that truly came into their own in Las Vegas — and the one who most deserves our attention is Wilfried Bergerhausen, executive chef at Le Cirque in Bellagio. Bergerhausen has true expertise, undeniable passion and a strikingly adept mind that appreciates the art and science of running a restaurant. It’s fitting that Le Cirque is the proving grounds for Le Cirque Chef Bergerhausen; the In the Bellagio Manhattan location has a 702-693-8100 reputation for debuting future stars, such as Daniel Boulud. But Bergerhausen’s education began long before Le Cirque; it’s no exaggeration to say that he was born and bred in the dining world. In the Cannes region of France, he had family in both front-of-house and back-of-house positions, and was surrounded by some of the finest restaurants in the world. His parents were lovers of both fine dining and art, exposing a young Wilfried to the great pedigree of French cuisine. At 14, he enrolled in the hands-on cooking program at Paul Augier in Nice, doing stints at Michelin-starred restaurants and coming to America to work at Jöel Robuchon. At 21, barely speaking a


DECember 2016

word of English, Bergerhausen became a sous chef and kitchen manager in the most prestigious restaurant in Las Vegas and, later, executive sous chef and chef de cuisine at Michael Mina in Bellagio. When Le Cirque’s then-Executive Chef Paul Lee left, Bergerhausen stepped in and immediately set to work making his mark. We didn’t know what to expect — but our expectations were high, especially given that Bergerhausen had carte blanche and virtually unlimited resources to build his menu. Every dish on his debut fall 2014 menu was a resounding success, with standouts such as the fall salad: artichoke hearts, avocado, thin slices of aged Parmesan and Iberico ham, tossed in a light Dijon dressing and finished with finely grated foie gras. Every menu since has managed to be more exciting than the last, and a finer articulation of a New French aesthetic that might be called luxe experimental: Consider Bergerhausen’s gold-crusted, foie gras- and truffle-stuffed quail farci, or the soup of porcini cream, chestnut velouté, pickled beech mushrooms, confit egg, and watercress sponge cake. Chef Wilfried Bergerhausen represents a new and better breed of chef, a culinary adventurer ready to take any tools available to make life-changing experiences on a plate. MW

The Modern Fried Egg arrives unassumingly in an eggshell paired with a crisped, buttery brioche stick, but the dollop of American sturgeon caviar adorning the dish hints of something special. Lying beneath the salty roe is a duo of egg preparations — a fried egg white-foam and sea salt-laced sous vide egg yolk — layered atop sweet summer corn purée. So, begin digging with the demitasse spoon, making sure you get a spoonful of everything for a blissful amalgam of salty and sweet, while saving the brioche for cleanup duty. Because with this dish, you’ll want to sop up all you can from that deceptively humble eggshell. JB In Mandalay Bay 702-632-7200

Just Eatt it: Far left, buckwheat flour blinis with cured salmon, lemon cream and microgreens; left, black Angus beef with French ratatouille rolls; below, scallops with sweet potato purée mushroom, ravioli leek foam and lobster bisque emulsion.

Ne ighborhood Restaur ant of the Year Eatt Healthy Food

This chef-driven eatery is leading the off-Strip foodie revolution Eatt is everything people say they want their eateries to be: casual, good, good for you and cheap. To be more specific, it is chef-driven, ingredient-focused, innovative, healthy, creative and delicious. The three young Frenchmen running the place — Nicolas Kalpokdjian, Yuri Szarzewski and Vincent Pellerin — are doing what’s never been tried before in our neighborhoods: bringing great-tasting, healthful French food to the suburbs. Food as pretty as it is flavorful. Szarzewski oversees the veggies and proteins, Pellerin the sweets, and Kalpokdjian handles the front-of-the-house chores. Theirs is the passion of true believers — émigrés undaunted by those who would raise an eyebrow at the location (a graveyard of failed concepts), the name (shared, phonetically at least, with another local breakfast joint), and the simple audacity of trying to create finely tuned French food in franchise-land. But they create just that every day at lunch and dinner, with such tantalizers as salmon blinis with caviar; burrata with pesto, mozzarella and candied tomatoes; and a lobster linguine of a richness and intensity I’ve never experienced before. Eatt’s signature dish might be strips of perfectly cooked Black Angus

Eatt 7865 W. Sahara Ave. #104-105 702-608-5233

ribeye with ratatouille rolls, but these fellows lavish an equal amount of love on their beets and bean sprouts as they do on their chicken breast with green pea mousse. The desserts are as shockingly good as the savories — and like nothing else Las Vegas has ever seen off the Strip. Whether it’s a textbook-perfect crème brûlée, or Pellerin’s updated take on Paris-Brest, or a pistachio dome filled with raspberry cream, these creations are second to none. Eatt is remarkable for all of these things and more. It stands as further testament to Las Vegas’s maturation from a top-down, casino-driven restaurant scene to something much more organic: a restaurant by and for locals whose cuisine competes with anything on Las Vegas Boulevard South, at half the price. Long may its French flag fly. JC

december 2016


side dish awards

Other tasty dishes and culinary trends of note in 2016

Appetize r of the Year Bone marrow at Searsucke r

This head-turning, hedonistic starter will satisfy the most primal appetites

Sandwich of the Year

think omakase on steroids

gras, creative farmers

Pho-dipped banh mi at Le Pho

— with ornate presentations

market-sourced vegetable

The traditional banh mi, or

contrasting simple

preparations and truffles on

Saigon sub, meets all-

preparations, kaiseki is

everything. Not too shabby

American diner grub at this

probably unlike anything

for a joint with a dive vibe. DL

downtown Vietnamese spot. A

you’ve ever encountered. The

6295 S. Pecos Rd.,

crusty French roll with pickled

course progresses around


daikon and carrots honors the

preparation methods, such as

traditional version, but there

the grilled yakimono and

are also some creative

rice-based gohan, with no two

deviations. Tender sliced

meals ever the same. And yet

Guilty pleasure

brisket stands in for mystery

every one is out of the

of the Year

lunchmeat, and a side of

ordinary. JB 1310 E. Silverado

Surf & Turf at The Palm

aromatic pho broth is provided

Ranch Blvd. #105,


for dipping. The end result is a


Recently revamped and

messy and drippy but

redecorated, The Palm is a

oh-so-satisfying alternative to an otherwise ordinary

place that prides itself on its dry-aged prime beef and its

handheld lunch. DL 353 E.

Burger of the Year

lobster. In fact, this is where

Bonneville Ave #115,

The 3AM Burger

some of the largest lobsters in


at The Burger Joint

town go, going four pounds

The 3AM Burger at The Burger

and up. It’ll cost you a pretty

Joint, a new Henderson spot, is

penny, but for a true

Forget those calcified butter

Happy Hour of the Year

a fine example of how this

indulgence, choose a steak (I

medallions served with your

Harvest by Roy Ellamar’s

place is going above and

recommend the 14-ounce filet

complimentary breadbasket. For a

“Harvest Hour”

beyond in the noble calling of

mignon) and half a three- or

hedonistic take on the traditional

Harvest is still going strong as

making great hamburgers. It

four-pound lobster, and just

bread-and-butter formula, bone

a creative farm-to-table

does custom buns and custom

dig in like a shark in a feeding

marrow is the spread of choice.

concept, and still keeping alive

patties, so any burger is a sure

frenzy. MW In the Forum

At the local outpost of Searsuck-

its dedication to painstakingly

bet, but the 3AM adds plenty

Shops at Caesars,

er, Chef Brian Malarkey’s New

sourced produce. One of its

of extra goodies: a free-roam-


American restaurant chainlet,

more quirky features is the

hen fried egg, bacon from

roasted beef bones undergo a

snack wagon, a rolling cart of

hearty Duroc pigs, roasted

show-stopping transformation

bites such as smoked salmon

tomato, caramelized onions,

Chain Restaurant

from primal nasty bits to decadent

belly dip, hangar steak tartare

and hollandaise sauce.

of the Year

— and, in our Instagram-crazed

and broccoli raab pesto with

Whatever hour you eat it, it’s a

Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar

age, highly photogenic — starter.

naan bread. “Harvest Hour,”

world-class breakfast between

At first glance, dog-friendly

They’re as large as split fireplace

from 5-6 p.m. and 9-10 p.m.,

two buns. MW 10890 S.

Lazy Dog (they have a dog

logs, lacquered in a Fresno chili

prices select snacks, cocktails

Eastern Ave. #108, 702-818-

menu!) might not appear to

bourbon glaze and topped with

and wine at $7 each, making it


be a gourmand’s mecca. But

a sweet, sour and sticky onion

one of the best values on the

jam for an added boost of flavor.

Strip. MW In the Bellagio,

A bushel of fresh parsley lends a


necessary brightness to prevent

* * *

* * *

overkill. Scoop the warm and wob-

* * *

* * *

look a little closer and you’ll realize this casual-dining

Bar food of the Year

SoCal mini-chain is no mere

Naked City Tavern

canine-catering Applebee’s.

Chris Palmeri may have made

Practically everything on the

bly marrow from its natural vessel

Hidden gem of the Year

his mark bringing suicide fries

menu is housemade, elevating

and slather it on crusty slices of

Yuzu Kaiseki

and Guy Fieri-endorsed fried

the upscale bar fare above its

grilled bread. It melts on contact,

In an unassuming strip mall on

dough to town, but don’t

peers — you won’t find

creating a luscious pool of fat

East Silverado Ranch

underestimate his skills as a

wok-fired calamari, chicken

that seeps into every last craggy

Boulevard, chef/owner

legitimate chef. At the newest

curry or butter cake at TGIF.

crumb. A butcher’s cut that once

Kaoru-San is transforming a

location of his Naked City

Even house beers are special,

literally went to the dogs has come

nondescript Japanese

empire, pizzas and chicken

brewed by LA’s Golden Road

a long way. DL

restaurant into a niche dining

wings are supplemented with

brewery. JB Downtown

destination with his kaiseki, or

a separate “chef’s menu”

Summerlin, 702-727-4784;

small-plate, offerings. A

that’s served 24 hours a day.

Town Square, 702-941-1920,

seasonal multicourse meal —

Expect tacos stuffed with foie

In Caesars Palace 702-866-1800


* * *

* * *

DECember 2016

Marché Bacchus 2620 Regatta Drive #106 702-804-8008

Hall of Fame Award Marché Bacchus

With its great wines, food and ambience, this lakeside bistro has become a fixture in valley food and wine culture When Gregoire and Agathe Verge opened Marché Bacchus in Desert Shores in 1999, it created quite a stir in the local wine-drinking community. For the first time in Las Vegas history, a well-stocked wine shop — something of game-changer in its own right — was being combined with a casual French bistro, and the whole operation was located on a decidedly un-Vegasy artificial lake with a gorgeous outdoor patio. It didn’t take long for lovers of al fresco dining, French bistro cuisine and great wine at fair prices ($10 over retail) to start filling up the place. Before long, local chefs (especially French ones) adopted it as their hangout on their days off, and to this day, they and oenophiles from around the valley treat Marché Bacchus as something of a private club. When the Verges decided to sell in 2007, two of their best customers, Rhonda and Jeff Wyatt, were at the ready, and what they’ve done to the place has been a boon for lovers of fine food and even finer wines. The allure of Marché Bacchus has always been that patio and the wine program. Basically, it’s an outdoor restaurant with a wine store attached to it. Or, if you prefer, it’s a wine store that happens to serve very good

food. (Food that, by the way, is getting more assured and sophisticated under the consulting of Chef Luciano Pellegrini and Executive Chef Jose Aleman.) No matter what you call it, a stroll among the bottles on your way to your table is unavoidable, and anyone who can resist picking one to have with their meal is a stronger person than I. Having weathered the Great Recession, the Wyatts have spent the past decade establishing Marché Bacchus as our number one neighborhood restaurant, a place so much a part of our food and wine culture that locals of all stripes now consider it their dining home away from home. In the process, they’ve also garnered national attention for their dynamic bistro on the lake, and these days you’ll find more than a few Strip tourists making the 13-mile trek up here to get a taste of what Vegas locals already know — that Marché (Mar-SHAY, as regulars call it) is one of our best and most beloved eating institutions. JC

Excellence on the Marché: Top left, truffled goat cheese Napoleon; bottom left, smoked salmon macaron with caviar; right, Executive Chef Jose Aleman.

december 2016


asian Restaurant

of the Year

Asian Restaur ant of the Year Yui Edomae Sushi

Yui has done nothing less than transform the Vegas sushi experience When master sushi chef Gen Mizoguchi opened Kabuto four years ago, he started to change the way Las Vegas eats sushi. When he opened Yui last year, he completed the revolution, taking the sushi experience back to its quintessentially Japanese purity and simplicity: raw fish impeccably sourced, minimally seasoned and expertly sliced, served the way they do in Japan, where a Zen-like communion between fish, chef and customer is sought with every bite; where you Yui Edomae Sushi take your seat and choose between 3460 Arville St. #HS one or two omakase menus, and 702-202-2408 Las Vegas, and probably the then watch while Gen-san and his best wagyu beef-eating one chefs perform their artistry in as well. (The A-5 wagyu monk-like silence. served here, ordered off a special menu Yui is in an obscure location and and grilled over binchotan charcoal, is impossible to see from the street — the equal of anything you’ll find on the factors that lend just the right amount Strip.) What you get always depends on of Edomae (Tokyo-style) mystery to what’s been flown in that day from Japan your experience. (Hunting for hidden or California. Fish you’ve likely never restaurants is practically a national heard of (half-beak, aji mackerel, tilefish, sport in Japan.) Don’t be intimidated, gizzard shad, etc.) are interspersed with though. If you’re open to eating sushi the traditional items (tuna in all its guises, the Japanese way, here you’ll have the uni, eel, salmon roe) in a delicate interplay greatest raw fish-eating experience in


DECember 2016

The art of sushi: Top left, Yui’s grilled platter features a rotating mix of seafood; right, shigoku oysters, known for their meatiness and clean flavor; below, a Yui chef’s artistry favors simplicity and purity.

of form, texture and accent. Some of it will be naked; some of it will be atop the best sushi rice you’ve ever tasted. All of it will be a revelation. Yui isn’t for everyone. This is the sort of sophisticated seafood experience that sushi connoisseurs in Los Angeles have been going nuts over for 20 years. But thanks to Mizoguchi, we now have it in Las Vegas. And thanks to him, and those who have followed in his wake, our Japanese food scene has been revolutionized. JC

Restaur ateur of the Year cory harwe ll Carson Kitche n , Standard & Pour

He’s blazing a new trail in the dining scene — while honoring a legacy Cory Harwell’s legacy is inextricably bound to that of the late, great Kerry Simon. Just as Simon broke new ground with his restaurants in the original Hard Rock Hotel and Palms Hotel and Casino, so did the two of them see gold in other hills when they formed the Simon Hospitality Group in 2012. Their partnership was based upon a love of refined, bold flavors in a laid-back setting — haute casual dining, if you will — and what Simon began in the late ’90s is now the template for Carson Kitchen thousands of gastropubs across 124 S. 6th St. #100 the country. Both had the genius 702-473-9523 to spot an untapped market in Downtown Las Vegas in 2014, and what they accomplished there — Standard & Pour and what Harwell has continued 11261 S. Eastern Ave. #200 to do since Simon’s passing last 702-629-5523 fined the Downtown eatyear — is remarkable, both for the ing and drinking scene. level of success achieved and as an Lunch or dinner, day or object lesson for ambitious chefs night, this place dazzles a full house with looking to spread their wings. its veal meatballs, bacon jam and outstandCalling Carson Kitchen a trailblazer is an ing cocktails. understatement. It not only blazed a trail, With the Downtown gamble having paid it started a revolution. There are at least a off, Harwell set his sights this year on dozen great spots to eat in Downtown now, Henderson, a place not exactly known for all of which owe a debt of gratitude to the seasonal, chef-driven cuisine. Harwell calls vision of Cory and Kerry. Sadly, by the time Standard & Pour a gastro-lounge with a Carson Kitchen launched in mid-2014, Sifeminine touch, but to people eating there mon’s waning health forced him to cede the it’s drop-your-fork delicious. Not content to reigns to Harwell, but under his guidance, revolutionize the restaurant world in two this little 50-seat powerhouse has rede-

formerly taste-challenged ZIP codes, he’s currently building a temple to the street food of Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and Korea, in yet another forlorn area of town (near east Charleston), where he hopes to ignite in others a passion for eating in the alleyways of Asia. If he succeeds in reviving three formerly moribund neighborhoods through great food, Harwell’s reputation as a culinary pioneer will be unmatched by any chef or restaurateur, on or off the Strip. In the process, he has done Kerry Simon’s legacy proud and created a new gastronomic one for all of Las Vegas. JC

Desse rt of the Year Bananas Foste r at Carbone

This sweet closer showcases old-school flair from new-school chefs Co-chefs Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi are masters at modernizing old-school dining. Carbone, their upscale Italian-American restaurant in New York City, opened a second location at Aria last year, and its arrival was a no-brainer. From start to finish, it offers the kind of meal that suits our town’s Rat Pack-loving, high-roller set. Take the bananas Foster, which doesn’t need fancy-schmancy foams or powders, exotic foraged ingredients or outrageous architectural plate-up to earn its honors. All it takes are simple ingredients and a little showmanship. A tableside preparation of bananas and booze by a tuxedo-clad waiter brings flair (and towering flames) to your final course. The fire-kissed fruit is plated before your eyes in a decorative coupe glass with scoops of vanilla ice cream and a sprinkling of crushed amaretti cookies for a little crunch. Consider it a sundae fit for the likes of Frank Sinatra. DL

In the Aria, 877-230-2742,

december 2016



of the Year

Restaur ant of the Year Baza ar Meat

It’s so much more than a steakhouse. It’s a laboratory of tireless culinary imagination

BAZAAR MEAT In the SLS 702-761-7610

Go team protein: Above, tableside preparation of Bazaar Meat’s classic tartare; right, the “foiffle,” an air waffle with foie gras espuma; far right, a steak sizzles on the grill in the “fire pit.”


DECember 2016

Calling Bazaar Meat a great steakhouse does it an injustice. It’s a great steakhouse in the same way Las Vegas is a great place to play blackjack — that’s true, but it doesn’t tell even half the story. Bazaar Meat in the SLS is a meat emporium, featuring the finest proteins on earth, but so much more. It is also a first-class seafood parlor, a den of molecular gastronomy, a marvel of mixology, and a wine bar par excellence. It can be a place to eat the finest hams on the planet or a bevy of small plates at the bar. Or, if all you want is some grilled live scallops and a dozen oysters, make yourself at home. Have an appetite for an entire roast baby pig? No problem. Well-aged steaks? They’ve got you covered. Here you can get beef aged on or off the hoof — meat from older cows being the au courant thing to eat in the steak world these days. Perhaps you just want to graze on tapas, both new- and old-school. Then get ready to chow down on playful croquetas de pollo (served in a glass shoe), or “foiffles” — air waffles with foie gras espuma so light you’re afraid they might float off the plate. Jose Andres is not reckless. He knew when he opened Bazaar Meat two years ago that Vegas is a steakhouse town. He also knew that combining crowd-pleasing steaks with multiple tastes of Spain was something no one in Sin City had tried. His genius lies in recognizing these things and pulling off what no one (myself included) thought he could. In the process, he’s garnered international recognition for his restaurant and raised the bar for steakhouses everywhere — a bar that, in Las Vegas, was pretty high to begin with. If anyone had told me five years ago that a Spanish steakhouse would make it in Las Vegas, I would’ve told them they were crazy. When Jose told me that I’d be just as wowed by his traditional tortilla sacramonte, roasted turbot and tomato tartare as I would be by his prime beef, I told him he was loco. These days, I tell the world that Bazaar Meat might be the best steakhouse in America. JC

dece m b e r 2 0 1 6


r a e y oodle n

Pho, ramen, rig matter how yo atoni, vermic a great yeau slurp it, 2 elli — no r for n 016 w oodle as BY G R E G s TH I L M




Shàng Artisan Noodle’s house bowl: brisket, noodles and bok choy in beef broth D E S E R T C O M PA N I O N | D E S E R T C O M PA N I O N .C O M


Soup’s on The first of the new wave of fresh-noodle restaurants is Noodle Man (6870 S. Rainbow Blvd., 702-823-3333), one of the numerous Asian eateries that’s turned South Rainbow into a Chinatown rival. In a handsome room with artistic calligraphy on the walls, the house specialty is Shanxi knife-sliced noodle soup. Sit at the low counter open to the kitchen and watch a chef deftly whittle a brick of wheat dough away, shreds flying into a pot of boiling water. Once cooked, the strands meet chewy chunks of beef in a generous bowl. Rich broth, black fungus, pickled greens, scallions, and cilantro lend lively flavor to the popular dish. Also new in the southwest corner of Las Vegas, Ramen KoBo (7040 S. Durango Dr.

702-489-7788) is drawing crowds of culinary Japanophiles with its delicate ramen and fiery broths. Created this summer by the folks behind the perennially popular Monta Ramen in Chinatown, this small shop specializes in spicy varieties of soup. With their delicate strings making a base in wide bowls, chefs pour in rich, chili-tinted broth and add sliced roast pork, ground pork, bamboo shoots, black mushrooms and fried garlic. (I like to add in extras like soft-boiled egg, black garlic oil, chives and chopped mustard greens for an extra karate kick of savory goodness.) As a bonus, you can watch the ramen being made at the front of this frequently crowded nook. It’s hypnotic. Newly opened Shàng Artisan Noodle (4983 W. Flamingo Road, 702-888-3292) puts

Spicy tonkatsu ramen at Ramen KoBo

on a dramatic live show with its hand-pulled noodles. Artisans in the open kitchen take a clump of dough and stretch and twist it dozens of times until it becomes a skein of pliable cords. With the swoosh of a knife, they’re flung into boiling water. Once firm, they’re scooped into bowls such as the house specialty of beef broth, brisket and bok choy. Slurping sounds are inevitable when tackling the dish. In Chinatown, Niu-Gu (3400 S. Jones Blvd., 702-5706363, is thrilling diners with Chef Jimmy Li’s xiao long bao, or soup dumplings. Thin sheets of handmade noodle are wrapped around a filling of minced pork and flavored aspic. After being steamed, the gel melts and bursts out when diners pop the morsels in their mouths with chopsticks. It’s a delectable thrill. Notable Asian restaurants can be found on the Strip as well. At Dragon Noodle Co. in the Monte Carlo (702-7307965,, the kitchen staff hand-rolls

pasta sheets around pork filling for their signature wontons. The dumplings can be added into their numerous soups, such as spinach-tofu, seafood-tofu, and chicken-corn. At China Poblano in the Cosmopolitan (702698-7900, chinapoblano. com), hand-cut wheat noodles define the classic Dan Main, which features spicy pork sauce and peanuts. In addition, local minichain Ohjah Japanese Steakhouse (multiple locations, ohjahsteakhouse. com) has expanded its pasta footprint with a pair of noodle parlors focusing on soba and ramen. If you want to split the difference and prepare fresh Asian noodles at home, venture to Louie’s Noodle Shop (4248 W. Reno Ave., 702-214-2918, louiesnoodle. com). An actual factory, it sells retail bundles of chow mein, rice noodles, saimin and even carrot-flavored versions of ramen, among others. It takes some hunting to find the location, so it’s noodles à la GPS!

D E S E R T C O M PA N I O N | D E S E R T C O M PA N I O N .C O M


ake some wheat flour. Mix it with water. Maybe add an egg yolk. Next, knead the mixture, shape it, boil it and behold: You have noodles. But there’s an elusive magic to the seeming simplicity of fresh pasta. If you’ve ever clamped a stainless-steel noodle machine to your kitchen counter and cranked out laughable fiascoes of sad squiggles, you know that making it from scratch is perhaps best left to the experts. Luckily for us, there’s been a flourishing of eateries specializing in housemade noodles in the past year or so, especially in terms of Asian cuisine. A handful of newer Italian establishments are making noodles in-house, too. And, of course, there are the mainstays that are still going strong, venerable local noodle-makers who have been quietly carrying on the tradition for years. This year saw an alphabet soup of culinary trends, but I, an avid ramen-slurper and devoted pasta-twirler, declare it the Year of the Noodle. Here are some of the best places in the valley to get them.


Pumpkin spice gnocchi at Portofino


That’s Italian


The foodways of Italy are famously pasta-centric. But before taking a look at Las Vegas ristoranti, a little myth busting is in order: That old saw about Marco Polo bringing noodles from Cathay? Hokum! European noodles were written about well before his supposed journey. For a wide palette of pastas, a visit to Pasta Idea (7668 W. Lake Mead Blvd., 702-485-5666, is a must. A tiny, well-lit space, the shop produces a roster of 15 varieties, including pappardelle, cavatelli, rigatoni and ravioli. My go-to is their bigoli, which look like spaghetti strands that went to the gym. Bulky and chewy, they’re best topped with hearty sauces such as Amatriciana — that is, marinara laced with abundant chilies and cured meats. Since 2014, Chef Michael Laplace of Portofino in the Mirage (866-339-4566) has been advancing Italian cuisine, raising the standard of quality, yes, but also experimenting with form and flavor. For the winter season, the kitchen is rolling and cutting pillow

pumpkin spice gnocchi. Tossed with braised venison, candy-cane beets, chestnuts and gingerbread crumble, it’s one of the most evocative pasta dishes in town. Also in the realm of eye-popping pasta is the house special at Pasta Shop Ristorante (2525 W. Horizon Ridge Pkwy., 702-451-1893, a funky, artfilled eatery in Henderson. It’s a deep bowl holding squid ink-tinted fettuccine in a saffron cream sauce. Crowned with grilled shrimp, the combination of black noodles and golden sauce has been a local favorite for nearly three decades. On a sad note, owner David Alenik — who once was a personal chef for none other than both Frank Sinatra and Steve Wynn — passed away in September. However, his wife, Ann, and two children, Trent and Bianca, are carrying on the family tradition in the kitchen and front-ofhouse. And for all those squid ink fans across town (that includes me) there’s more. The always excellent Carson Kitchen (124 S. 6th St., 702473-9523,

D E S E R T C O M PA N I O N | D E S E R T C O M PA N I O N .C O M

has a seasonal special on the menu: housemade spaghetti al nero with calamari. Another venerable restaurant that makes top-notch pasta in-house is the ultra-Vegasy Ferraro’s (4480 Paradise Road, 702-364-5300, All the noodles are made on-site, including spaghettini, bucatini and tagliatelle. The notable casarecce dish features twisty, short noodles tossed with a garlic, zesty sausage, and rapini (the mouthwateringly bitter cousin of broccoli). Fittingly, casarecce means homemade in Italian. No survey of Italian pastas is complete without lasagna. Or, at least in terms of Chef Marc’s Trattoria (8615 W. Sahara Ave. 702-233-6272,, an assemblage called Malfiata. Made with wide noodles and beef short rib, it’s a more informal version of the famous casserole. Its root words, loosely translated, humorously combine as poorly made, though the dish is quite the opposite. Another establishment that has fun with names is Gina’s Bistro (4226 S. Durango Squid ink fettuccine at the Pasta Shop Ristorante

Drive, 702-341-1800,, which serves Strozzapreti alla Norcina. It features long, folded-over cylinders topped with creamy sausage ragù and truffle oil. The name translates to priest-choker.

The wider world

Beyond the Asian and Italian housemade noodles of Vegas, Germany and Russia are represented as well. For a Teutonic treat, the spaetzle at Café Berlin (4850 W. Sunset Road, 702-875-4605, are handcrafted. The rustic batons are built to soak up ladles of rich gulasch. For a Slavic experience, the pelmeni at lively Forte Tapas (4180 S. Rainbow Blvd., 702-220-3876, are pasta-wrapped umami torpedoes of wild mushrooms slathered with rib-sticking beef Stroganoff. Finally, if you’re set on making noodles on your own, pick up a pasta machine at Sur la Table or Williams-Sonoma. But if you can’t make the magic happen in your own kitchen, it’s nice to know that the expert noodle-makers all over the valley have dinner covered.

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hile “’tis the season for giving” may have joined the ranks of cliché holiday sayings quite some time ago, the concept still resonates loud and clear with many Las Vegas businesses and organizations that work tirelessly to improve the quality of life for the metropolitan area’s 2 million-plus residents. Through efforts that range from offering various forms of assistance and support, to programs that empower less-fortunate individuals and families with the capabilities necessary to successfully engage in everyday life, to providing opportunities for educational and career advancement and success, philanthropy surely is alive and well in Las Vegas.

Principal Sponsor

partner Sponsors

The Howard Hughes Corporation® is proud to sponsor for the second year, “In the Spirit of Giving,” a testament of a rich tradition of philanthropy and community betterment in Southern Nevada. Thanks to hundreds of nonprofits dedicated to improving and uplifting quality of life in our community, as well as to scores of corporate partners that understand the value of supporting initiatives and organizations that make our world better, we enjoy a culture of giving in Las Vegas that extends well beyond the holiday season. For more than four decades, The Howard Hughes Corporation is proud to have played a role in the growth of Southern Nevada, particularly through the development of Summerlin®, soon moving into its 27th year and home to more than 100,000 residents. As a builder of community, we understand and appreciate the value of access to quality education and healthcare services, a healthy environment, the uplift of culture and arts, and a robust network of social services that improve the lives of all who call our valley home.


Even before Summerlin began, The Howard Hughes Corporation established a growth and sustainability plan that would develop the community as a partner to the environment, protecting natural habitats and wildlife while building neighborhoods that enhance the natural desert landscape. Our 2016 support of organizations dedicated to protecting the environment include long-time beneficiaries of The Howard Hughes Corporation - Outside Las Vegas Foundation and The Nature Conservancy. And new this year to our list is Green Our Planet, a conservation organization that runs one of the country’s fastest-growing school garden programs.


In addition to our legacy of supporting the environment, education has long been a focus area for The Howard Hughes Corporation. We have strived to provide unequaled educational opportunity in Summerlin, as well as do our part to uplift education valley-wide. This year, our support of education initiatives and organizations included ongoing support for Clark County School District and its School Community Partnership office, the UNLV Foundation, in addition to launch support for Roseman Medical School which is currently establishing a campus in Summerlin.

Children and Families

Recognizing that healthy communities begin with children and families, The Howard Hughes Corporation in 2016 continued its support of HomeAid Southern Nevada, dedicated to building new lives for our valley’s homeless through housing and community outreach; and Discovery Children’s Museum, which provides endless learning, exploration and creative thinking experiences for valley children in a world-class facility. New this year to our list of supported initiatives is Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Las Vegas class of 2016 for its Buddy Bench program, which will fund and install up to 10 “buddy benches” to foster friendships and connection on local playgrounds at target schools in our valley.

The Arts and Culture

As the home of Nevada Ballet Theatre (NBT), Summerlin knows first-hand the contribution to sense of community well-being created by the presence of culture and the arts. That’s why we are especially pleased to be the presenting sponsor NBT's most important annual fundraiser – its 2017 Black and White Ball in January. On behalf of The Howard Hughes Corporation, we acknowledge the hard work and success of our community’s many nonprofits that are tirelessly dedicated to their respective causes. We invite our corporate partners to keep the spirit of giving at the forefront year-round. Philanthropy and volunteerism are the responsibility of all who live and work in Southern Nevada, especially those for whom our community’s promise and abundant opportunities have been realized. Sincerely, Kevin T. Orrock President, Summerlin The Howard Hughes Corporation

in the spirit of giving


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backgrounds actively participate in playful

housing and outreach in our local

schools using vegetable gardens. In

learning experiences that ignite a love of

community. Since we opened our

2013, Green Our Planet launched its

lifelong learning.

doors more than 200,000 square

Outdoor Garden Classroom Program,

feet have been built and renovated

which helps local schools fund

more than a fun place to visit with your

serving over 3000 homeless chil-

and install school gardens so that

family. It’s an art studio, a science lab, an

dren and adults. We have partnered

students can experience hands-on

archaeology dig site, a “green” metropolitan

with 17 different agencies who are

learning outside. The program not

city and a pirate ship. Celebrating 26 years

serving the homeless locally and

only focuses on science education,

of community, the museum addresses

have given them over $1.2 million

but also teaches students how to

its core educational areas of science and

through our shelter build projects

run their own farmers’ markets (local

nature, art and culture and early childhood

and Care Day Initiatives (com-

students ran 125 farmers markets last

development with 26,000 square feet of

munity outreach). It is our goal to

year), recycle, conserve water, and

interactive hands-on exhibits. The 3-story

continue to bring safe, clean and

grow their own food in both traditional

museum is complete with nine interactive

dignified housing to those who are

gardens and hydroponically. The

exhibition galleries providing a reliable

experiencing homeless in Southern

program is now the 2nd largest

source of information and modeling for

Nevada, giving them a chance for a

school garden program in the United

parents and caregivers, a safe place for

brighter future.

States, impacting 60,000 students,


DISCOVERY Children’s Museum is



meaningful family time and an education

and has installed 100 school gardens

partner with schools and teachers all

in the Clark County School District

the while integrating imagination,

during the last 3 ½ years.

creativity and exploration.

Sponsored by

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in the spirit of giving

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4315 Dean Martin Drive, Suite 200, Las Vegas, NV 89103 Mailing Address: Toys 4 Smiles, 2251 N. Rampart Blvd., Unit 172, Las Vegas, NV 89128 702 232-8191


Our Mission is to provide a toy to children of all ages in need of a smile, while providing a sense of purpose, caring, and community to the volunteers of Toys 4 Smiles. These toys are not simply playthings, but tools that help unlock a child’s ability to think, to be creative, and to cope with the world around them. At the same time, the volunteers, develop relationships that create joy and everlasting friendships.

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2000 E. Flamingo Road

10620 Southern Highlands Parkway

Las Vegas, NV 89119

Suite 110-474


Las Vegas, NV 89141



Provide children facing adversity with


strong and enduring, professionally

At the Goodie Two Shoes Foundation,

supported, one-to-one relationships that

our mission is to provide disadvantaged

change their lives for the better, forever.

children and children in crisis with new shoes and socks, and EMPOWER them


To help all children achieve success in life.

Ac c o u n ta b i l i t y

By partnering with parents/guardians, volunteers and others in the community, we are accountable for each child in our program achieving: • Higher aspirations, greater confidence, and better relationships • Avoidance of risky behaviors • Educational success

with choice throughout the process. It’s not easy providing thousands of Southern Nevada children in need each school year with desirable, high-quality, properly-fitting sneakers on-site at their school, but it’s a task that Goodie Two Shoes takes on with creative energy, enthusiasm and decisive action. GTSF works within the Clark County School District to outfit more than 10,000 school-age children each school year. Since 2003, GTSF has outfitted over 75,000 of our community’s most needy students!

Sponsored by

in the spirit of giving


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2323 Potosi Street

1240 North Martin Luther King Blvd.

480 W. Bonanza Rd.

Las Vegas, NV 89146

Las Vegas, NV 89106

Las Vegas NV 89106





Have you ever had to choose

Believing that every child deserves a comfortable and supportive place to grow, Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Greater Las Vegas creates and supports programs that directly improve the health, education and well-being of children in our community. The Ronald McDonald House is the cornerstone program of RMHC and provides temporary housing for families who travel to Las Vegas to receive critical medical treatment for their children. You can support RMHC of Greater Las Vegas by volunteering at the House, the Family Room at Sunrise Hospital, or giving monetary


between food and medicine? Have you had tooth pain and no dentist? There are many in our community who answer these questions “yes!” They are the working uninsured who often go without health care. The mission of Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada is to provide quality health care and support for residents of Southern Nevada without access. VMSN operates two patient-centered medical homes, staffed primarily by volunteers to provide free and charitable health care, dental care, and social services.Please give so others may live! Make a donation or volunteer today at


The Las Vegas Rescue Mission has been assisting homeless men, women and children in the community for 46 years. Since beginning in 1970, the Mission has been providing food to the hungry every day, providing shelter to the homeless, and providing an addiction recovery and back-towork program for those who have lost their way. Last year alone LVRM served over 370,000 meals, provided over 50,000 nights of shelter, gave clothing and basic need items to over 27,000 needy men, women and children, and saw many men and women complete the year long recovery program and return to the workplace.


Sponsored by

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361 Symphony Park Avenue Las Vegas, NV 89106 702-749-2000 (Patron Services & Tickets) 702-749-2358 (Development) 702-749-2012 (Administrative)


To provide and preserve a highquality performing arts center that is embraced by the community and recognized as a vital force by supporting artistic excellence, education and inspiration for all.

As the community’s Heart of the Arts®, The Smith Center presents hundreds of world-class performances each year with a diverse lineup of music, dance, Broadway musicals and special speakers in one of our three performance venues. The Smith Center is also host to many community events, meetings and special occasions. To promote the arts among younger generations, we offer arts education experiences free of charge to local students and educators throughout the year, including student matinees, in-school performances, and professional development opportunities for teachers. Local teaching artists engage and inspire students and teachers in The Smith Center's Disney Musicals in Schools program, as well as the Southern Nevada Wolf Trap Early Learning Through the Arts residencies in classrooms throughout the Valley. The Smith Center also arranges for professional artists to give master classes on the performing arts and is host to the annual Heart of Education® awards, recognizing Clark County school teachers.

VO LU N T E E R There are many opportunities to volunteer and play a direct role with your community’s performing arts center. Volunteers engage with staff and patrons to enhance experiences at The Smith Center, and can serve in various capacities including tour guide or docent, usher, or community ambassador. As important members of The Smith Center team, volunteers help us remain financially sustainable and provide numerous services for the community. Please show your support for The Smith Center’s mission by gifting your time and unique skills.

G I V I NG Thanks to the generous support of our dedicated Founders, Members, Donors and Sponsors, The Smith Center continues to provide a wide variety of services for Las Vegas area residents, including access to world-class performances, inspirational Education and Outreach programs for students and teachers, and a unique space to host events, meetings and special occasions. Celebrating our fifth season, we depend upon public support to fulfill our mission and serve as the Heart of the Arts® in Southern Nevada for many years to come. With ticket sales covering just 75 percent of the cost to produce a season, the remaining 25 percent comes from the community we serve. Philanthropic support at all levels helps provide programming that entertains, educates, enriches and inspires. By giving to The Smith Center, you play a vital role in providing an important resource for all of Southern Nevada.

Sponsored by

in the spirit of giving


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821 N. Mojave Road

3852 Palos Verde Street

4190 N. Pecos Road

Las Vegas, NV 89101

Las Vegas NV 89119

Las Vegas, NV 89115



702-644-FOOD (3663)




Boys Town started serving children in

Our mission right from the beginning has

Omaha Nebraska and celebrates its 100

been to create an environment for those

anniversary. Boys Town Nevada opened

in recovery to learn to live with a quality

its doors in 1991, bringing an innovative

of life they have forgotten or never

approach to child and family care to

experienced before. Our founders have

those in need in the Las Vegas area. The

built their communities with the deep

No one in our community

site's Integrated Continuum of services

compassion and commitment for the

should be hungry.

includes a residential campus of five

finest services about how to achieve a

Family Homes, where boys and girls

first class quality of life for their clients

learn valuable skills that give them a

That Commitment is best defined in

foundation for a brighter future. Familybased services, such as In-Home Family Services SM and Common Sense Parenting ® classes, prevent disruption in the home and facilitate reunification by ensuring that families have the supports and skills they need to create and maintain a safe, stable environment for their children. Boys Town Nevada is headquartered in Las Vegas and directly serves more than 2,200 children and 900 families each year.

the following core values of the company:

Nurturing the Spirit

Bridging the Gap



To provide wholesome food to hungry people, while passionately pursuing a hunger-free community.


One in six Southern Nevadans struggle with hunger – that’s more than 315,000 people in our community who are food insecure, which includes more than 128,000 children. Three Square works with a service network of approximately 1,300 community partners, including

Freedom House offers you... the individual, a community and lifestyle committed to your Long Term recovery. Not only do we believe it’s possible to maintain sobriety, we provide you the assistance and the support to make it possible. Freedom House Sober Living distinguishes itself from other transitional

nonprofit and faith-based organizations, schools, government agencies and businesses to reach struggling individuals and families at risk for hunger. Together, we can feed everyone.

living centers by designing a community for people in recovery.

Sponsored by

Kevin Buckley | Pam Junge

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in the spirit of giving

SERVICES One DropTM is an international non-profit organization created by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté in 2007. At the core of our mission is water as a transformative force to improve living conditions, as well as give communities worldwide the ability to care for themselves. By supporting communities both with specifically adapted infrastructures as well as with training and knowledge, we empower people to achieve self-reliance from


aid. One Drop has been recognized internationally for its approach includ-

Las Vegas, NV 89119

Association Project Innovation Award. To learn more, visit

980 Kelly Johnson Drive, Suite 200 1.844.33.WATER

ing the 2015 UN-Water Best Practices Award and the International Water



Globally, One Drop’s intervention zones are in Latin America, West Africa

One Drop strives to ensure that safe

and Asia. Locally in the desert climate of Las Vegas where water conserva-

water is accessible to all, sustainably.

tion and awareness are more important than ever, One Drop has created a partnership with Springs Preserve by donating $1.25M to further develop innovative educational programming in Nevada. Contributions will be used to develop exhibits at the Springs Preserve WaterWorks Museum, scheduled to open in 2017.  The exhibits will explore water supply and demand management efforts in Southern Nevada, as well as global parallels associated with water quality and access worldwide.     

GIVING Join us for the 5th edition of One Night for One Drop. An annual celebration to raise funds and awareness for critical water issues.

Sponsored by

in the spirit of giving


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MARCH 3, 2017


Don’t miss the 5th edition of this breathtaking, one night only production. An annual celebration to raise funds and awareness for critical water issues. TICKETS ON SALE NOW – 1.844.33WATER – ONEDROP.ORG/ONENIGHT


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P.O. Box 98947

8990 Spanish Ridge Avenue, Suite 100

801 S. Rancho Drive Suite B2

Las Vegas, NV 89193

Las Vegas, NV 89148

Las Vegas, NV 89106




702-366-1640 (24/7 Hotline)




Our mission is to create a visitor

Our mission is to provide support,

We commit to offering help, hope, and

experience that builds culture and

education, hope and advocacy through

healing to those affected by sexual violence.

community, inspires environmental

programs and services for children

We provide education, awareness and

stewardship and celebrates the

and adolescents with cancer, their

support as far as our arms can reach.

vibrant history of the Las Vegas

families and the professionals who care

Valley. Listed on the National

for them. Our purpose is to alleviate

Register of Historic Places since

the isolation many families feel at

Every two minutes someone is sexually

1978, the Springs Preserve is

the time their child is diagnosed and

assaulted in the U.S. We are the only

a 180-acre cultural institution

offer our love, care, encouragement

stand-alone sexual violence organization

designed to commemorate Las

and understanding, so that nobody

in Nevada. All services are available at

Vegas’ dynamic history and provide

need face alone the uncertain world of

no cost to victims – our 24 hour hotline,

a vision for a sustainable future.

childhood cancer. We provide families

court advocacy, individual and group

The Preserve features museums,

a variety of unique programs that

therapy. We also provide education and

galleries, outdoor events, colorful

include financial assistance, emotional

prevention programs and work to change

botanical gardens and an

support and quality-of-life activities, all

the community conversation around

interpretive trail system through a

of which are available at no cost to the

sexual violence.

scenic wetland habitat.

families. Donors have the satisfaction of

Help us by sponsoring events, hosting

knowing their support and contributions

a training, volunteering, or donating. Your

are directly helping Nevada families

support says that you care about survivors

affected by childhood cancer.

and assures that no one need go through


this trauma alone.

Sponsored by

in the spirit of giving


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Sponsored by

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PO Box 93203

601 S. Rancho Drive

Las Vegas, Nevada 89193

Building C, Suite 19


Las Vegas, NV 89106



The Trauma Intervention Program (TIP) of Southern Nevada, Inc.’s mission is to ensure that those who are traumatized in emergency situations receive immediate emotional and practical assistance. To accomplish this goal, TIP partners with emergency response agencies in Clark County (fire departments, police departments, hospitals, etc.).  These agencies request TIP’s specially trained volunteers to respond to emergency scenes where the volunteers are able to assist victims, families, and witnesses during the investigative process by providing emotional and practical assistance.  In 2015, volunteers responded to over 1,400 scenes of tragedy where they were able to support over 7,000 individuals, in need.


No child should grieve alone, and this drives our mission of providing education, peer support groups and resources at no charge to Southern

Feed your smart.

Nevada children, teens and families coping with the death of a parent, caregiver or sibling. By empowering them with healthy coping skills, they’ll heal, move forward and make positive choices that’ll last a lifetime. The first to create an open-ended, ongoing program of this type in Las Vegas, our 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization was established by funds from the Tony and Renee Marlon Charitable Foundation. It continues today through gifts and donations – large and small. Your investment helps add staff, build infrastructure and launch on-site school groups needed to grow our program to capacity, and to meet the current and future needs of Southern Nevada’s children.

Sponsored by

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ABOUT MAKE-A-WISH® SOUTHERN NEVADA Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada transforms lives by providing children battling life-threatening medical conditions with an opportunity to spend time together away from hospitals, treatments, and procedures. A wish come true gives kids a chance to feel normal again. A wish gives them something to think about and the hope they need to stay strong during the dark and stressful times. Since forming in 1996, we have served medically eligible children and their families in Clark, Nye, Lincoln, and Esmeralda counties. To date, Make-A-Wish® Southern Nevada has provided healing and magical wishes that over 1,700 children will cherish for a lifetime.


5105 South Durango Drive, Suite 100 Las Vegas, NV 89149

Many local children diagnosed each year with qualifying illnesses are referred to Make-AWish by their medical providers, parents or guardians, and by the children themselves. We’re thrilled to be able to grant about 140 wishes each year in Southern Nevada—each wish a

702-212-WISH (9474)

potential game-changer for the child battling for health and sometimes for his or her life. Even

with all that we are proud to accomplish annually, our challenge is that only about half of the kids who need a wish currently get one.


Grant the wish of every eligible child.

Here is where your support can make a big difference: help us increase the number of wishes we grant each year until every eligible child's one true wish is realized. Please consider joining our partner Allegiant in supporting the Wishes Can’t Wait program to ensure


Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy.

we can continue to transform lives. Your support gives seriously ill kids an experience that can improve their quality of life and strengthen their families. It can offer them hope for the future and bring joy back into their lives. Your gift makes all of that possible.

A PA RT N E R S H I P TA K E S F L I G H T Allegiant has been a part of the Make-A-Wish family nationally for more than five years, having provided nearly 600 flights to wish destinations, raising funds through the sale of Wingz Kids Snack Packs in flight, and sponsoring Walk For Wishes® events across the country. Now, Allegiant is opening its home to Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada, with a $1.5 million renovation of space on its corporate campus in Summerlin to provide a new headquarters for Make-A-Wish with a $1 per year lease. This means more than $100,000 in annual rent expense will be redirected toward granting more wishes.

T H E P OW E R O F VO LU N T E E R S A group of caring volunteers in Arizona founded Make-A-Wish in 1980 after granting the wish of 7-year-old leukemia patient, Chris Greicius. Chris’ wish was to be a police officer. For one magical day, his wish came true: he donned a DPS-custom-made uniform, he was sworn in as a police officer, rode in a helicopter, visited the director, and was certified as a motorcycle officer. This experience meant so much to Chris that when he passed away, his parents

Sponsored by

buried him in the police uniform made for him as part of his wish. Those involved in that first wish realized the magnitude of the gift given to Chris and his family and vowed to do it for other children. From that grassroot effort, Make-A-Wish evolved to become the world’s largest wish-granting organization, with over 62 chapters in the United States and 35 affiliates throughout the world, granting wishes in almost 50 countries. Today, Make-A-Wish still relies on more than 200 volunteers throughout Southern Nevada to help grant wishes. Every volunteer plays a vital role in helping achieve our important mission. To learn more about volunteer opportunities, visit or call us at 702-212-9474.

in the spirit of giving


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WHO WE SERVE Our program offers temporary assistance to military veterans and their families in an effort to keep them from becoming homeless. These struggling veterans represent sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. Each have served our country. We share both the pride and problems of this nation’s military servicemen and women and believe we have an obligation to help protect and serve those who have served and protected us. Because of this, we are committed to helping veterans in need.





Job placement

Case management

Employment assistance

Drug and alcohol-free housing



525 E. Bonanza Rd. Las Vegas, NV 89101

The successful transition of military veterans and their families through the provision of housing, counseling, career development and comprehensive support.

Veterans who visit U.S.VETS represent a variety of needs as diverse as the veterans themselves. Some seek employment assistance. Some require mental health treatment to help them fully reintegrate into civilian society. Some need help finding affordable housing options for themselves or their families. These issues are just a few of those addressed by U.S.VETS with a wide spectrum of supportive programs. Contributions make it possible for U.S.VETS to offer essential services that support the individuals who stood up when their country needed them. As troops return home, U.S.VETS strives to be a leader in innovative programs that empower our evolving veteran population with the tools they need to become self-sufficient. If not for your help, many veterans would struggle to adjust to civilian life, facing issues like homelessness and substance abuse without the support system U.S.VETS provides.


In-Kind Donations (clothes/home goods/food)

Circle of Service

Planned Giving


Hire a Vet

Sponsored by

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BMW Motorrad USA

Motorcycles since 1923

Ready to Plan Your Holiday Party? we can plan and cater any corporate event you desire


Celebrate the season. Reward your team for a banner year. Share your gratitude and success with your clients and vendors. We can host you at Divine CafĂŠ and other great locations at the Springs Preserve or many great locations all over Las Vegas.

Follow us for upcoming events & specials 6380 S Valley View Blvd, #316 | Las Vegas, NV 89118 | 702.253.1400 Call 702.454.6269 to schedule your reservation. See store for details.

6675 South Tenaya Way •


e k ta



your Arts+Entertainment calendar for december




The Las Vegas Bowl

Zirna Trio

Linda Ronstadt in Conversation

Winchester Cultural Center

Sam Boyd Stadium

It’s not the most famous college-football bowl game, or the most respected, or the most lucrative — but it is the most local. It pits the Mountain West Conference against the PAC-12. And this is the bowl’s — did you know this? — 25th year. Sounds like a good reason to see a game. 12:30p, $35-$110,

7 Tom Lutz The Writer’s Block

Most unknown as the editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books, an online literary concern, Lutz is somewhat less unknown as a hardcore, no-frills, cross-cultural, monkey-warts-and-all traveler who chronicles his exploits and observations in books such as And the Monkey Learned Nothing. He’ll read from it tonight. 7p, free,

The Winchester continues its culturally rich presentations when this ensemble — pianist Damaris Alvarez, violinist Rebecca Sabin and cellist Moonlight Tran — performs the work of neglected woman composers. 7p, $10 advance, $12 door, 702-455-7340

Artemus Ham Hall, UNLV

17 It’s a Wonderful Life — a Live Radio Play

The singer, who’s earned both a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Latin Grammys, talks onstage with Ray Suarez. 7:30p, free, but tickets are required,

Charleston Heights Cultural Center

Poor Richard’s Players will bust out the holiday classic in the format of a radio play, complete with sound effects and oldtimey radio ads. 7p, $10 advance, $15 door,

december 2016




Artist Justin Favela’s aerial exhibit highlights the papel picado, which translates to English as “chopped paper” and is a traditional folk art from Mexico that involves cutting out intricate patterns in colorful tissue paper. The tissue paper is then glued to a string in a line to form banners, which are used as decorations for important festivities throughout the year. Free. Las Vegas City Hall Grand Gallery, 495 S. Main St., first floor,


This space at City Hall, known as the Windows on First, is part of the First Street Art Trail. Phillips’ artwork is created entirely from discarded VHS tapes, cassette tapes, 35mm photo negatives and slides, many of which have references to Las Vegas. Free. Las Vegas City Hall Windows, 495 S. Main St. at First Street,


Canadian artist Burtynsky’s exhibition features more than 50 large-scale color landscape photographs exploring different aspects of that most transformative resource: oil. Free. Marjorie Barrick Museum at UNLV,


Armand Thomas’ timely photography exhibit features the exquisite and distressed Cuban capital and its resilient people in a historic era that is transforming before our eyes. Havana has been largely off-limits (and relatively unaltered) since the Castro-led revolution of 1959, but with political thaw comes change — euphoric for its hope of progress and daunting for its ramifications on this unique island nation. Summerlin Library Art Gallery,


nature and technology. Free. Spring Valley Library,


DEC. 3–JAN. 14; ARTIST’S RECEPTION DEC. 10, 2–5P The exhibit consists of drawings of people whom the artist, Donald Corpier Starr, has encountered in his life. Free. West Las Vegas Arts Center Community Gallery, 947 W. Lake Mead Blvd.,


Artists explore the cultural heritage of Chinese New Year for 2017. In the artwork, each artist is asked to include and highlight the animal associated with the year as well as investigate more information about Chinese heritage. Free. Historic Fifth Street School, 401 S. Fourth St.


DEC. 20–MARCH 9; ARTIST’S RECEPTION DEC. 20, 4P Working within the constraints of feminism and formalism, the artist, Shelbi Schroeder, challenges the viewer to look beyond the façade of repetition and decoration into a deeper understanding of female desire. Free. Las Vegas City Hall Grand Gallery, 495 S. Main St., first floor, MUSIC


DEC. 1–3, 7:30P; DEC. 3, 2P Experience a musical celebration full of joy and the spirit of the season, featuring live music and some of your favorite Signature Productions performers. $25; seniors, $23; children 6–12, $16. Summerlin Library and Performing Arts Center,


See the UNLV Choral Studies students in concert. $10; $8 staff, seniors, military; free for current students. Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall at UNLV,

THROUGH FEB. 12 Artist Sean Russell’s infrared phototransfer juxtapositions of Big Lake, Minnesota, and Nevada’s Red Rock National Conservation Area merge


december 2016

slack key guitarist George Kahumoku Jr.; Uncle Richard Ho‘opi‘i, renowned for ‘ukulele and leo ki`eki`e (Hawaiian falsetto); and slack key guitarist Kawika Kahiapo — mix Hawaiian music favorites with hymns. $35–$55. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center,


DEC. 3, 2P & 7P; DEC. 4, 2P Legendary entertainer Moreno teams up with the Las Vegas Philharmonic for a performance of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. This show also features selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, Strauss’ Radetzky March and an audience sing-a-long of holiday favorites. $30–$109. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center,


The concert will feature music of the holiday season, as well as an original song by musical director George Pucine. With Tim Cooper at the piano leading The Silvertones chorus, you are in for a real treat. $10. Starbright Theatre at Sun City Summerlin,

LAW & ORDER DEC. 3, 7:30P

UNLV Opera Theatre’s Opera Workshop I will present musical scenes about crime and punishment. $10; $8 seniors and military; free with current student ID. Lee and Thomas Beam Music Center at UNLV,


The country vocal quintet’s highenergy country show, peppered with quick-witted humor, is the perfect prelude to an evening of rodeo action. They mix Nashville standards with country-dipped pop hits in their own homegrown style. $25–$125. Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall at UNLV,



Three Hawaiian Music Masters and ordained kahu (ministers) — master

Southern Nevada Homeschool Performing Arts presents its winter concert. Free. Main Theater at Clark County Library,


Country music and Christmas, what’s not to love? $15-$20. Free. Main Theater at Clark County Library,


Hale and Ryan bring you a show that explores the tall tales and dark corners of American roots music and ’50s rock ’n’ roll. They will be backed by a four-piece band and vocalists. $25–$45. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center,


Moreno performs holiday classics with his band. $30–$42. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center,



DEC. 17, 7P

Join Michael Grimm, his amazing band and featured special guest performers for 90 minutes of holiday music favorites, served up with his warm and soulful style. $20. Starbright Theatre at Sun City Summerlin,

DEC. 19, 4P

Celebrate the magic of the season. Free. Main Theater at Clark County Library, THEATER



Award-winning production company Poor Richard’s Players brings this holiday classic to life in the style of a radio drama, complete with foley sound effects, jingles and vintage radio-era charm. $10 advance, $15 at the door. Free. Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 S. Brush St.,

This youthful, playful new adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved novel follows the fortunes (and isfortunes) of the Dashwood sisters after their father’s sudden death leaves them financially destitute and socially vulnerable. When reputation is everything, how do you follow your heart? $10–$33. Judy Bayley Theatre at UNLV,

DEC. 2–17, THU-SAT 7:30P; SUN 2P

DEC. 17, 7P



A concert for all ages. $10-$20. Windmill Library Auditorium,

A dark comedy set in three 1979 London kitchens over three Christmases. The

DEC. 18, 6P

DEC. 2–19, THU-SAT 8P; SUN 2P


DEC. 10, 7P; DEC. 11, 2P The Musicmakers will be singing Vivaldi’s (1678-1741) Gloria in D as well as other songs celebrating winter, Hanukkah and Christmas. $10. Starbright Theatre at Sun City Summerlin,


Broadway performer Creel, whose credits include The Book of Mormon, Hair and Thoroughly Modern Millie, presents an evening of show tunes and original songs. $37–$59. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center,


Bring a lunch and enjoy this hourlong concert of holiday classics. Free. Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse Jury Assembly Room, 333 Las Vegas Blvd. S.,


Give the gift that brings a year of

Learning, Fun & DISCOVERY this Holiday Season! The holidays will be here soon, so put DISCOVERY Children’s Museum at the top of your shopping list for all your gift-giving needs!

Museum Memberships Make special memories with a gift membership that keeps on giving, even after the holidays!

Gift Certificates You set the amount, we’ll do the rest! Gift certificates can be used toward museum admission, and make great stocking stuffers!

Educational Gifts and Toys Unwrap your kids’ imagination this holiday season with gifts from the DISCOVERY Store, located inside the museum. Museum members receive 10% off their purchase when they show their membership card!

For more information visit or call 702.382.3445.

DEC 16–17, 7P

Longtime entertainer (and daughter of Dean) brings a show full of holiday classics. $35–$59. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center,

december 2016


THE GUIDE play follows the fortunes of three wildly incompatible couples charting the relentless rise of the socially aspiring Hopcrofts at the expense of the other two couples. $21–$24. Las Vegas Little Theatre,


DEC. 2, 3, 9 & 10, 7P; DEC. 4, 10 & 11, 2P Join the world of Dr. Seuss where you will revisit beloved characters such as The Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, Lazy Mayzie, JoJo and more. $6. Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 S. Brush St.,


Meet uncle Willie, stuttering cousin Bob, demented cousin Kenny, Steve’s new therapist cousin Sal (and Sal’s parole officer) and many other characters in this show by Steve Solomon. $35-$40. Troesh Studio Theater at The Smith Center,


A special holiday treat of improvisational comedy and music. Join the fun as you, the audience, decide what happens onstage. Come early for “Name that Tune” with the LVIP band. $10. Fern Adair Conservatory for the Arts, 3265 E. Patrick Lane, DANCE


Enjoy several styles of dance, performed by hard-working students. $15. Main Theater at Clark County Library,


DEC. 10, 16, 17, 21 & 23, 7:30P; DEC. 11 & 18, 1P; DEC. 17 & 24, 2P; DEC. 18, 5:30P The Nevada Ballet Theatre presents Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic. Certain shows have special discount tickets, and some performances feature a live orchestra; check website for details. $29–$179. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center,


december 2016



A multidisciplinary absurdist, performance artist and fresco painter, New York artist Bozhkov creates acts of resistance against socially mandated homogenization. Bozhkov has taught at Yale and at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine. Free. Marjorie Barrick Museum at UNLV, FAMILY & FESTIVALS


Yes, it does snow in the desert! Each show lasts 10 minutes and is choreographed to everyone’s favorite holiday music. Every Thursday, come early to see live performances by elementary- to high school-aged students from Las Vegas area schools. Free. Town Square, 6605 Las Vegas Blvd. S.,


THROUGH JAN. 1, MON–FRI 2P–midnight; SAT–SUN noon-midnight For the fifth year in a row, the Boulevard Pool transforms into a winter wonderland high above Las Vegas Boulevard. You can skate across 4,200 square feet of real ice, roast s’mores by the fire and indulge in seasonal food and beverage offerings. $20 (locals $10 Mon–Thu); skate rental, $10. The Cosmopolitan,


THROUGH JAN. 2, SUN-THU 5–9P; FRI–SAT 5–10P Leave the Strip to see the real glittering lights! This holiday sensation is a 2.5-mile circuit that gives car-bound visitors the opportunity to see more than 400 animated displays. New this year is the addition of the Santa Tram. $20–$70. Las Vegas Motor Speedway,


DEC. 10–11 & DEC. 17–23, noon–6P Embrace the holiday magic with train

rides to Santa’s magical village and festive activities including photos with Santa, holiday crafts, cookie decorating, holiday stories, a nutcracker display and more. $8 members, $10 non-members, free ages 2 and younger. Springs Preserve,


Wizards and Muggles of all ages are invited to this festival-style program where you get a taste of what it’s like to spend a day at Hogwarts. Get your wand at Ollivanders, make a feather float in Charms class and get your O.W.L. in Defense Against the Dark Arts. Free. Summerlin Library and Performing Arts Center,



NIA — KWANZAA 2016 DEC. 30, 6P

Join the community celebration to share the meaning of Kwanzaa, and embrace the best in African culture, community and humanity. This celebration provides a framework for instilling strong values, and acknowledge and honor the accomplishments of the Rites of Passage graduates. Free. West Las Vegas Library Theatre,



Join in this exciting combination of bowling, rodeo and silent auctions. Benefits the Speedway Children’s Charities. $50 individuals, $160 teams. Gold Coast Hotel & Casino,


How about a little magic for the holidays? A perfect show for kids and adults alike to get into the holiday spirit, Murray is bringing along his comedy sidekick Lefty, assistant April and a few surprise guests. Benefits Friends for Life Humane Society, a no-kill dog rescue. $20. Starbright Theatre at Sun City Summerlin,


DEC 12



You and a guest could join some of Las Vegas’ brightest culinary talents at an honorary luncheon as we celebrate the Desert Companion Restaurant Awards recipients. DETAILS AT DESERTCOMPANION.VEGAS

december 2016



2016 says it’s sorry For adding Bowie, Prince, Merle and Leonard to the afterlife house band. For that immersive multiplayer screechfest of an election season. For infecting every road in Southern Nevada with a flaming orange sepsis of construction cones. For taking Muhammad Ali. For Orlando. For Brexit. For zika. For using Las Vegas as the backdrop for the lamest of all Jason Bourne films. For a richly debated, deeply considered stadium process *bitter sarcastic laugh-choke*. For the spike in violent crimes in Las Vegas. For a summer of excessive heat warnings when everyone knows climate change isn’t real. For taking Alan Rickman, Gary Shandling and Gene Wilder, just when we needed to laugh. For stolen and vandalized public art. For killing Abe Vigoda, our last hint that humans might live forever. For not giving us a break from the !&#%@! Bundys. For Bernie chair-gate, and the social media #hellchasm it opened. For — speaking of hell chasms — the advent of paid parking on the Strip. For another Guy Fieri restaurant. For the low farce of Ryan Lochte in Brazil. For closing The Beat. For phasing Elvis out of Vegas, probably for good. For ... wait, we already mentioned the campaigns, right? Still: the !&#%@! campaigns. For this not being close to the full list of stuff 2016 should be sorry for. so here, have a basket of adorables!


December 2016

Never stop learning.

ARE YOU PREPARED FOR CHANGE? Required skills for the workplace are constantly changing. You have to be adaptable and acquire new skills throughout your career. UNLV Continuing Education has the right professional development certificate program or course to get you ready for your next job assignment or career move. Information Technology • Health Care & Allied Fields • Community Management Mediation • Nonprofit Management • Sommelier • Legal Studies • Pilot Training Unmanned Aircraft Systems • Human Resources • Sports & Wellness This spring we launch two new certificate programs—Personal Care Aide and Stage Technician. For more information on these programs and the Spring/Summer 2017 certificates and courses, please view the catalog online at or call 702.895.3394.



Located between New York-New York® and Monte Carlo™ For more information, visit



Desert Companion - December 2016  

Your guide to living in southern Nevada

Desert Companion - December 2016  

Your guide to living in southern Nevada