I recently spoke with the new Executive Editor of Bon Appetit Magazine, Adam Rapoport. Mr. Rapoport was vocal and animated on a variety of subjects, from the upcoming Vegas Uncork’d event that his magazine sponsors, to restaurant trends, gambling, golf and travel. He’s a New Yorker, and as befits the stereotype, a rapid fire, energetic speaker with lots to say.
Mr. Rapoport spoke to me by telephone, from his offices in New York City.
UnicaHome: Can you tell us a little about your background?
Rapoport: Before taking this position, I was Food Editor for GQ Magazine, where I worked with Alan Richman, and an editor at TimeOut New York. I was also for a time Fashion Editor at GQ. Those positions afforded me the chance to develop relationships with many well known chefs in New York and elsewhere, and the experience of having dined and traveled for years before assuming my current post.
UnicaHome: Would you evaluate the food scene in Vegas, and please be brutally honest. How do we stack up against other major American cities?
Rapoport: Well, first of all, that’s not an easy question to answer. Obviously, the talent pool in Vegas matches up with anywhere. You have great chefs here. The service at a Vegas restaurant is impeccable, and the ingredients are phenomenal. Some of the food you get here is even better than in New York.
It’s hard to bring the energy and ambience of a chef’s restaurant in a major city to the Strip, though. The dining rooms in New York, for instance, are small and intimate. They often have patina, age on them. Restaurants in Vegas are huge. I think some of them are just too big.
UnicaHome: Are you saying we lack elegance?
Rapoport: Not at all. The architecture here is amazing. You have all the major design groups represented in Vegas, such as Tony Chi, Jeffrey Beers, etc. It’s just that when you are eating in a city like New York, Chicago and certainly a city like Paris, there’s a history there, and that’s not simple to re-create.
UnicaHome: What are some of the latest upcoming trends to look for in American restaurants?
Rapoport: I think the emphasis has shifted away from fine dining. Diners are becoming more popular in New York, for instance. Look at what is happening in, say, Brooklyn. M. Wells is a converted diner serving incredible comfort food at affordable prices. Just take a look at a place called Roberta’s in Bushwick. Chefs are saying, “I want rustic, earthy food. Let’s just go for it.” You’ll see the same phenomenon occurring in other American cities as well.
UnicaHome: Are you saying that fine dining is on the decline?
Rapoport: No, but I am saying it has changed. Chefs like Daniel (Boulud) and Jean Georges (Vongerichten) still have enormous influence, but so does David Chang, the owner of Ssom Bar (and other casual Asian restaurants).
UnicaHome: Here’s a question that any foodie should be able to answer. What would you choose for a favorite or last meal?
Rapoport: Probably northern Italian. Something from the grill, extra virgin olive oil, a nice pesto, and some good Italian wine, perhaps a Brunello, or a Barolo from Piedmont.
UnicaHome: Let’s talk about Vegas Uncork’d. Can we expect any surprises this year?
Rapoport: This is my first year being involved in the event, but no, I don’t think so. We do want to make wine and spirits more of a focus, though. I think that up to now, it has been a food centric event. The emphasis will still be strongly on chefs, but we intend to showcase wines more now, and have many tasting and wine focussed events.
UnicaHome: How many participating wineries will there be, and how are they chosen for the event?
Rapoport: I don’t have the exact list in front of me, but there will be several dozen. We have a tasting panel to help choose the wineries, and they represent all price ranges. I recommend going to the Grand Tasting on Friday evening, May 6th, held in the Garden of the Gods at Caesars Palace, where one can experience the full range.
UnicaHome: Are there any new chefs being brought into the mix?
Rapoport: One who comes to mind is Jose Andres. He has three new restaurants at he Cosmopolitan, as your readers probably know. Michel Richard and Nobu Matsuhisa will also be first-timers, as well as Scott Contant of Scarpetta in the Cosmopolitan. Richard and Matsuhisa will open places in Caesars Palace later this year.
UnicaHome: Bon Appetit has been a huge supporter of the Vegas dining scene. Does this mean we can expect your support to continue?
Rapoport: Well, I’m just the Editor of the magazine, not the one who signs the checks, and I haven’t discussed next year with the board yet. But as far as I know, the event is going to be held again next year, and there are no plans to discontinue it.
Adam Rapoport is Editor-in-Chief of Bon Appetit Magazine. Bon Appetit is presenting the Vegas Uncork’d Ultimate Epicurean Event held over Mother’s Day Weekend in Las Vegas, May 5-8, 2011. More information and tickets are available at http://www.vegasuncorked.com.
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