Thursday, May 30, 2013

Chase Encounters, Las Vegas Uncork'd 2013 - $20,000 Scholarship Challenge

LAS VEGAS – Chase Sapphire Preferred®, a premier travel rewards card from Chase, in partnership with Bon Appétit hosted the Chase Sapphire Preferred Grill Challenge, on Saturday, May 11, during Bellagio’s Block Party at the seventh annual Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit. Renowned chefs Akira Back and Todd English partnered with two local Las Vegas Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute students, Andrew Merfalen and Todd Huelsman, respectively, to re-imagine a classic French dish during a live grilling competition.
Todd English and Todd Huelsman were named grill challenge champions after stunning the judges with a show-stopping dish featuring a rich foie gras mousse paired with chicken payard, topped with panko asparagus and finished with a demi-glace. Todd Huelsman was awarded a $20,000 scholarship, presented by Chase Sapphire Preferred, to help fund his culinary education at the Las Vegas Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute. An additional $5,000 was presented to runner-up Andrew Merfalen.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with acclaimed chef Todd English at such a prestigious food festival” said Todd Huelsman. “The generous $20,000 donation from Chase Sapphire Preferred is truly life changing and will allow me to further my culinary education as I strive to be as successful as the world-class chefs at the event.”

The two students from the Las Vegas Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute were selected for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve as sous-chefs for Akira Back, Executive Chef of Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant & Lounge at Bellagio, and Todd English, Chef at Olives at Bellagio, through a Vine video and essay competition presented by Bon Appétit and the Las Vegas Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute.

“It is an honor to be involved in the Chase Sapphire Preferred Grill Challenge and work with rising culinary talent from Las Vegas Le Cordon Bleu,” said Akira Back. “I had fun working side-by-side with Andrew building our dish and battling Team English.”
Bon Appétit restaurant and spirits editor, Andrew Knowlton, emceed the event. The judging panel included Denise Valdez, KLAS-TV anchor and 8 News NOW personality, alongside Bon Appétit, Editor-in-Chief, Adam Rapoport, and a lucky Chase Sapphire cardholder. 

“The Chase Sapphire Preferred Grill Challenge was the highlight of the weekend, the celebrity chefs and Le Cordon Bleu students not only brought their culinary expertise, but also their competitive edge to the event,” said Sean O’Reilly, general manager, JP Morgan Chase. “We know how important it is to support the next generation of chef talent, and by providing scholarships funds we are furthering these students’ culinary dreams.” 

The seventh annual Vegas Uncork’d by presented by Bon Appétit and Las Vegas, in partnership with Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand and Chase Sapphire Preferred ran May 9-12. The food festival featured chefs including Akira Back, Todd English, Bobby Flay, Michael Mina, Nobu Matsuhisa, Gordon Ramsay, Michel Richard and Joël Robuchon.

As a presenting sponsor of Vegas Uncork’d, Chase Sapphire Preferred offered cardholders the ability to redeem credit card rewards points or purchase tickets to select Vegas Uncork’d events – and enjoy exclusive perks, such as a VIP lounge at the Grand Tasting and a private brunch featuring cuisine prepared by Executive Chef Julian Serrano of Picasso at Bellagio. About Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit

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