Kanpai! UNLVino’s Sake Fever Entertains Thousands at The Mirage’s Pool

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Larry Ruvo and Chef Masaharu Morimoto at UNLVino Sake Fever
Last night, UNLVino continued its line-up of world-class beverage tastings with Sake Fever at The Mirage’s resort pool (Photo credit: © Tom Donoghue / Tom Donoghue Photography)

Chef Masaharu Morimoto, known to millions as the star of Iron Chef and Iron Chef America, was honored with the Dom Pérignon Award of Excellence for his recent Culinary Hall of Fame induction, collection of renowned restaurants, and unrivaled win-loss record on Iron Chef.

Chefs from Naked Fish at UNLVino Sake Fever
Chefs from Naked Fish at UNLVino Sake Fever

Photo credit: © Tom Donoghue / Tom Donoghue Photography.

Accepting his award, Chef Morimoto said, “Thank you very much, Las Vegas is my dream city. I am very honored by this event – when I came to the United States in 1985, I would have never imagined a Sake Festival, and now here are thousands of people at Sake Fever!” He surprised the audience by continuing with, “I have been in this country for thirty something years, and yes, I still I have a language problem – but I can sing!” Morimoto then belted out a traditional Japanese song that had the crowd roaring with applause, and further proved he is a man of many talents. When the song concluded, emcee Chet Buchanan exclaimed, “Who knew we would get a concert too!”

Mark Stone, Trevor Scherrer, Larry Ruvo, Chef Masaharu  Morimoto, Michael Severino at UNLVino Sake Fever
Mark Stone, Trevor Scherrer, Larry Ruvo, Chef Masaharu
Morimoto, Michael Severino at UNLVino Sake Fever

Photo credit: © Tom Donoghue / Tom Donoghue Photography.

UNLVino is presenting its main event, The Grand Tasting, tonight at Paris Las Vegas honoring restaurateur Elizabeth Blau (7 p.m. to 10 p.m.), and concludes with Sunday’s mixology-focused BAR-b-q at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health honoring MGM Grand president and COO Scott Sibella (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.). More information on each event is available at UNLVino.com and tickets are available at the door.

Chef Masaharu Morimoto sings while Larry Ruvo and  Michael Severino look on at UNLV Sake Fever
Chef Masaharu Morimoto sings while Larry Ruvo and
Michael Severino look on at UNLV Sake Fever

Photo credit: © Tom Donoghue / Tom Donoghue Photography.

Kiri Mist Sake at UNLVino Sake Fever
Kiri Mist Sake at UNLVino Sake Fever

Photo credit: © Tom Donoghue / Tom Donoghue Photography.

UNLVino Sake Fever at The Mirage
UNLVino Sake Fever at The Mirage

Photo credit: © Tom Donoghue / Tom Donoghue Photography.

Sake Fever Highlights:

  • Guests were welcomed to the sounds of traditional Japanese drums as performed by Karabo Taiko Drums.  Chef Masaharu Morimoto, the evening’s honoree, took pictures with guests and jokingly tried to play the traditional Japanese drums that were on stage.
  • Guests sampled close to 100 imported and domestically brewed sakes and beers, including TY KU Sake Silver Junmai, Gekkeikan Black and Gold, Pacific International Liquor Kurosawa Daiginjo, Dreyfus Ashby Hakutusuru Draft Sake, and many more.
  • Guests enjoyed signature dishes from a collection of Las Vegas’ favorite local restaurants, including Aburiya Raku, Fin, Island Sushi Hawaiian Grill, Japonais Restaurant and Lounge, Kabuki Japanese Restaurant, Monta Ramen, Naked Fish, Social House, Sushi Samba, and Zenshin.
  • Naked Fish had guests lining up to taste fresh sashimi cut from a 250 pound tuna they had brought in for the occasion.
  • SWS of NV Marketing & Events Director Michael Severino, SWS of NV Senior Managing Director Larry Ruvo, UNLV’s William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration Dean Don Snyder, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean of Operations, Jean Hertzman, and 25 UNLV hospitality students honored Chef Morimoto with the Dom Pérignon Award of Excellence. Michael Severino said, “Las Vegas marquees are famous for featuring the one-named star, like Sinatra or Elvis – but this year, Sake Fever got it right by honoring Morimoto!”
  • Don Snyder said, “This incredible partnership we’ve had between UNLV, SWS of NV, Larry Ruvo, and Michael Severino has lasted for 39 years, and has created tremendous support for our university and students. I couldn’t feel better about what we have here, and tonight’s event is a wonderful opportunity to recognize somebody very special. Congratulations, Morimoto!”
  • An official sake barrel ceremony took place on the main stage, intended to ward off bad spirits and involved using a hammer to break open a traditionally decorated barrel of sake. The participants included The Mirage President, Trevor Scherrer; President of Morimoto Management, Mark Stone; Chef Morimoto; Michael Severino, and Larry Ruvo. Sales Manager of the Western Region for Gekkeikan, Sarturo Ito, and Asian portfolio director for SWS of NV, Luis de Santos, helped present the barrel ceremony in Japanese and English, respectively.