Oh yes, there was fine food ranging from cilantro Gremolata skirt steak and smoked lamb belly bacon to fried chicken and lamb bourguignon, and fine wines from Francis Coppola, J Lohr, Moet and Signorello at the 11th annual Mohegan Sun WineFest .
And there were celebrity chefs who were more like celebrity couples this year, with the well-known cooking personalities showing off their significant others at the three-day food and wine extravaganza.
Among the well-known peeps to see at Saturday’s sold-out Celebrity Chef Dine Around were Food Network’s Robert Irvine and wife Gail Kim (aka wrestler and fitness model La Felina), pastry chef and Sandra Bullock sis Gisine Bullock-Prado and husband, Ray Prado, and Terrance Brennan and girlfriend, Judy Lipton.
“This is a great event,” said Irvine. “It is one of my favorites and the people at Mohegan make it so easy for us,” said the “Restaurant: Impossible” host who was serving up Hudson Valley duck with preserved confit and py lentils.
The casino was more than hopping as crowds headed to ballroom and VIP areas for bourbon tastings, grand tastings, the dine around and elite cru tastings, all providing the chance to break the dreaded winter cabin fever and get out of the frigid cold.
“It certainly is nicer in here,” said celebrity chef Donatella Arpaia, one of the event veterans who not only provided a cooking demonstration but also served up her signature meatballs at the dine around later in the day. “I think I have been part of this for eight or nine years and it’s one of the better ones I do participate in,” said Arpaia, one of several of the celebrity chefs who are veterans of the annual food and dining extravaganza.
Among the many celebrity chefs at the event were Kim Canteenwalla, who had a secret to share, He is planning a restaurant in West Hartford.
“We are still working on it but I have always wanted a place there,” said Cateenwalla, well-known for developing food and beverage venues at five-star resorts and co-founder of Blau & Associates. His wife, Elizabeth Blau, hails from West Hartford, but that was all Cateenwalla wanted to share.
“It will be an American cuisine-themed restaurant but I can’t say anything else yet,” he grinned as he went back to preparing his charred octopus with roasted fingerling potatoes.
A not-so-secret secret making the grapevine was that very outgoing WFSB personality Scot Haney is turning 50 soon and is planning a very public celebration.
Among the special guests at the event will be WDRC radio personality Brad Davis who coincidentally, is also celebrating a landmark birthday around the same time. Davis will be in Florida celebrating his 80th birthday but plans to fly back for an overnighter to help Haney raise money for the good cause.
And speaking of radio personalities, WTIC 96.5 FM radio personality Gary Craig was doing a bit of glowing at the dine around and it had nothing to do with the hundreds of wines being served.
It was apparently because he made the “pool.”
See Craig, who seriously dabbles in art and acting when not on the air, appears in the blockbuster “American Hustle” with Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale.
And while his spoken lines are on the editing room floor, his appearance as a mobster in a bar scene is intact and he found out he is eligible for residuals when the Oscar-nominated film goes DVD.
“Make sure you watch the bar scene when you see the movie,” he advised. “You can’t miss me.”