Las Vegas Food University offers foodie-fantasy camp

Experience Vegas differently at Food University at Caesars Palace, which takes place on Dec. 11 through 13.

Las Vegas offers visitors a chance to see top-notch entertainment, lounge at topless pools, get married by an Elvis impersonator, shoot machine guns, play with heavy construction equipment and, of course, gamble.

These days, Las Vegas has plenty of upscale places to eat. And next month’s inaugural Food University event at Caesars Palace is designed to take advantage of Sin City’s new role as one of the gourmet restaurant capitals of the world.

The three-day cooking and culinary extravaganza will feature a “faculty” of award-winning chefs including Michel Richard and Claudine Pepin, cheese expert Laura Werlin, The Daily Meal Cook Editor Anne Dolce, as well as noted sommeliers and mixologists. Eighty tuition-paying students will participate in a variety of classes in cooking techniques and go on VIP field seminars that will include behind-the-scenes tours of foodie-destinations around town.

“At a lot of food festivals around the country, people watch celebrity chefs perform, but then go home with no new skills,” Richard Gore, the event organizer and veteran culinary entertainment producer, told NBC News. “Food University will be a foodie fantasy camp where everyone gets to come into the playground.”

It won’t be all fun and games. Like "real" school, Food University students will be tested on what they learn: on the final afternoon of class, the group will be split into three teams for a cook-off (appetizers, salad, main dish, two sides and dessert) and will have their work judged by a group of local Las Vegas celebrities.

“I’m a big fan of the idea that taking a cooking class in a city you’re visiting can be a fun and unique glimpse of the local food scene,” Seattle-based food writer and cookbook author Cynthia Nims said. “And this three-day course may reflect the personality of Las Vegas, as much as Seattle’s personality is reflected in a class that includes a tour of Pike Place Market and seasonal Northwest ingredients.”

It may also be a good way to experience the Vegas food scene “beyond simply sitting at the restaurant table as a diner,” she said.

Food University takes place Dec. 11 through 13 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Four ‘semesters’ are planned for 2013 and a half dozen the year after.

And while the $1,995 per-person tuition would buy more than a few lunches and dinners at the hotel’s new 500-dish Bacchanal Buffet, students will receive all meals (except dinners), a chef coat, an “Enlightened Palate” graduation diploma and plenty of spicy stories that won’t have to stay in Vegas.

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