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Make Your Next Trip to BlogWorld a Healthy One!

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Raise your hand if you had one too many desserts, alcoholic slushies, or fried food meals while at BlogWorld 2010. Yep, that’s what I thought. I think we all did.

In the days leading up to the event, I posted The Coaching Doctor’s Advice for BlogWorld, an interview I did with Dr. Aamer Iqbal about ways to stay healthy while in Vegas. Now, you can go a step further in learning about health trips while traveling. Today, two of BlogWorld’s speakers, Nathalie Lussier and Andy Hayes introduced a brand new project called Healthy Travel Lifestyle.

Nathalie Lussier is the Raw Foods Witch – yup, a witch – and she has the magick secrets to eating healthy. Andy Hayes is that travel guy, the go to man for all your questions travel. Together, they’re nearly too much awesome to handle in a single place. Not only do they have a new site where you can go to learn about healthy travel to BlogWorld (or any event), but they’re offering a free virtual Healthy Travel Lifestyle Happy Hour on December 7th so you can ask all your health and travel questions and learn more about their project. Hope to see you all there!

Getting Your Blog Noticed by the Pros

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During BlogWorld 2010, travel PR professionals John Forest Ales and Terri Maruca sat down with moderator Stafford Kendall to talk about how to get noticed by the travel pros. While I didn’t get to attend this session live, I’m loving my virtual BlogWorld ticket right now because in listening to the panel, this is relevant for bloggers from every niche who are interested in working with companies to do reviews.

Getting noticed by professionals, whether it be the PR company for a hotel that can give you free accommodations or a publisher that can send you a free book relevant to your blog, comes down to one thing: Build a relationship so you both give and take.

It's not about what they can give you - it's about what you can give them!

You might have a million readers a month, but a lot of bloggers are popular. Unless you have a relationship with a company, the PR person you contact may not know who you are. Or, they might know who you are, but 99% of the time, a PR rep can’t give you free stuff to review. They have to take your request and go through multiple levels to get it approved. A busy restaurant owner probably doesn’t have time to read blogs. They have no idea that you’re a respected expert within your community…yet. If you start to build a relationship, it doesn’t matter if you have ten readers or ten million readers – if you connect to the company, you can show them what you can do for them in terms of promoting their brand. Sometimes, having a small dedicated group of fans looking for something extremely specific is just as good for a company as having a larger community.

When building a relationship, something that is super important is considering what is right for your blog, not just what you can get for free. John and Terri noted that bloggers can sometimes come off as demanding and unprofessional, and often it’s hard to see through the noise of people who don’t actually care about the brand, but rather just want something for free. Let me tell you a bit about my own experiences with doing promotion and reviews while at BlogWorld.

I knew I would be in Las Vegas a day before most people, so I decided to contact some PR agencies with the hopes of doing a few restaurant reviews here on the BlogWorld blog. My thought process was that by highlighting a few places to eat, more BlogWorld attendees would go to those places specifically. The perk for me was getting to eat at some awesome restaurants. The perk for the restaurants was reaching a few thousand people in town for the weekend. Ultimately, I worked with Kirvin Doak Communications to review Border Grill for lunch, Tender for dinner, and Mix for drinks at night. Some of that worked. Some of that didn’t work. All of it was about audience.

First, let me tell you want did work – Border Grill. The food and drinks at all three locations was fabulous, and Border Grill was no exception. But it wasn’t just about my good experience that made this work for a BlogWorld review. Other things that came into play that made this an awesome option:

  • Border Grill was right by the conference location, so most people had to walk past it on their way back to their room. Convenience is the name of the game. They had been seeing it every day and possibly wondering about it, so a review solidified for them the need to stop in and check it out. Tender and Mix were both more out of the way, so if readers wanted to take my recommendation, they had to do a little hunting.
  • The price was right. Bloggers have McDonald’s budgets, so while Border Grill might be a justifiable price for a professional,at $20 – $30 minimum for a meal, this is a splurge for the average BlogWorld reader.  Tender and Mix, while being adequately priced for the quality and service, were just not possible for many people. Had my food not been comped, I would not have been able to afford either of these locations, and I know a lot of other bloggers were in the same boat.
  • Border Grill fit a range of readers’ needs. The atmosphere made it comfortable for readers wearing jeans or readers wearing suits – which was important, considering that some groups had both types of people. The food was also palatable to a wide range of people. It was Mexican, but not in a Taco Bell type of way. I felt comfortable recommending it to everyone I met, without a disclaimer of any kind.

While at BlogWorld, I know that my personal recommendation of Border Grill was responsible for at least three parties of 6+ people eating there or ordering food there, and since BlogWorld, I’ve gotten a few emails from people who traveled to Las Vegas for other conferences but remembered my review and checked out the restaurant. For every person who tells me they ate there after reading my review, there are probably ten people who also did, but just didn’t let me know. Did the restaurant get their money out of offering me a meal there? Absolutely. Tender and Mix? Probably not so much, unfortunately.

Border Grill met the readers’ needs here at BlogWorld extremely well in terms of convenience, price, and range. Again, this extends to non-travel reviewing as well. Will your readers ultimately take action due to your review? Is the product convenient for them? Is the price right? Does it meet the needs of a range of your readers, not just a small fraction of them?

That’s how you get the pros to work with you. Should I review restaurants again next year for BlogWorld, my approach will be different. No matter how much I want a free meal at Tender, it just isn’t a good option for BlogWorld readers. A less expensive burger joint makes more sense. And showing that you’ve done that kind of thinking about your request is what makes a PR rep want to work with you. You’ve not just in it for free stuff. You actually want to promote what they’re doing. Free stuff is just a perk.

When you approach PR companies with any kin of review request, work to build a relationship. Don’t ask what they can do for you. Ask what you can do for them. Be receptive to their ideas, but be prepared with a proposal of your own – and one that has the ultimate potential to show them the biggest return on investment possible for the company. If you deliver for a company, they’ll want to work with you again and again, which is awesome not just for you, but also for your readers.

Thanks to John, Terri, and Stafford for a great panel!

Overheard on #Blogchat: Haters (@EGlue)

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Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night (or Monday morning), I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Open mic night!

As many of you may already know, in addition to working here at the BlogWorld blog and running my freelance writing blog, I also serve as site manager for Binge Gamer, a video game blog I founded with my best friend a few years ago. The video game community is not…nice. And that’s an understatement. Even if you write a post that is straight news, containing no opinion at all, you’ll likely get called an idiot by someone in the comments, or two+ of the commenters will start attacking one another. That’s just the nature of this niche.

But that’s not every niche. In fact, that’s not most niches. Most communities are inherently positive, so it can feel jarring when you get a negative comment on  your site. I actually feel kind of lucky that one of my first major blog projects taught me to have a thick skin.

One of the participants at this week’s #blogchat spoke a bit about this topic:

@EGlue: Whatever you do, you can’t make everyone happy. If you got a hater or two, you’re probably doing something right.

Easy enough to say, but I also definitely understand why some people get upset when a hater starts leaving comments. We put a lot of work into our blogs, to the point where they feel like our children. If someone doesn’t like our child, that’s anger-inducing…but when someone makes fun of our child? Well, I don’t know about you, but it makes me want to lash out right back.

It pays to remember what @EGlue mentioned – if someone is hating on you for some reason, it’s probably an indication that you’re doing a good job with your blog in general. People may not like a certain post you write or a certain decision you make for your blog, but they feel connected enough that they have to leave a comment. You want your community to feel so invested in your blog that they leave emotional comments when they don’t like someone. If you’re community’s reaction is, “Meh,” that’s probably an indication that you’re not doing a very good job connecting with them.

And remember too, there’s a difference between a hater and a troll. A hater might hate you, but they make valid points or actually have something to say, even though it might come out in a not-so-nice way. A troll, on the other hand, is just trying to piss you off (or piss off another commenter). They don’t actually care about your blog, your community, or even, in many cases, the topic. Haters warrant a response, though do so tactfully. Trolls rarely warrant a response and sometimes even warrant being deleted, depending on their comments and your blog’s policies.

The bottom line? Although negativity often hurts, try to find the constructive criticism in it and remember that just because someone has a different opinion doesn’t mean that you’re doing something wrong as a blogger. Work on building up that thick skin and keep moving forward.

Overheard on #Blogchat: “Nichify” (@CatsEyeWriter)

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With all the BlogWorld Expo work I’ve been doing, I haven’t had time for Overheard on #Blogchat for a few weeks. Glad to be back this week!

Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night, I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Generating interest in your NEW blog

One of the most interesting #blogchat quotes I’ve read this week was from @CatsEye Writer about the topic of your blog, which plays a big part in building your online community.

CatsEyeWriter: New blog? Don’t be afraid to “nichify.” Your right people will find you.

I love this tweet in part because I make up words all the time and in part because it’s really solid advice that I feel like most bloggers get wrong.

A few months ago, I offered free freelance writing consulting on my blog, After Graduation. Of the people who signed up, 90% of them wanted to talk about their blog ideas, either for existing blogs or blogs they were thinking about creating. I found myself saying one thing more than anything else:

FOCUS!

Let’s say you start out with a personal blog where you just talk about whatever topic pops into your head. It’s about as far from “nichified” as possible. Unless you’re a celebrity or there’s some other force bringing your readers together to like you, how can you market that blog? You don’t have an average reader. You aren’t solving a problem. Chances are that you aren’t even being entertaining – at least not to every reader with every post. Reader A might like Post #1 but not Post #2. Reader B might like Post #2 but not Post #1. Because only the occasional post is relevant, no one subscribes or makes an effort to support your blog in any way.

So let’s say you “nichify” a bit by deciding that you’re going to write about parenting. That’s a huge niche. Again, you don’t really have an average reader. Because you’re so general, your posts are going to initially attract all kinds of parents. But Reader A is a young, new mother from the Midwest who is interested in your budget tips for parents, while Reader B is an experienced father from New York City who wants tips on helping his child choose a college and Reader C is a couple dealing with a child with autism. If you’re trying to write to all of them, your posts are going to be watered down and not convert. You can’t build a community if there’s nothing to bring them together.

Don’t be afraid to really find your niche. While there are more general parents than parents with children who have autism, if you write for Reader C specifically, your people will find you – and they’ll stick around.

So, as @CatsEyeWriter says, don’t be afraid to “nichify.” It’s better to have a small, dedicated readership than it is to have a million hits a day with no community. A dedicated readership that becomes a community is the key to building traffic and making sales, and that starts with defining your niche.

BWE10 Dinner Recommendation: Tender

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Earlier today, I posted a great lunch recommendation at Border Grill, but for dinner I wanted to give you a slightly more upscale location to try out. Tender, which is located at Luxor, is a great option if you’re looking for somewhere sophisticated but can’t afford a five-star $400 tasting menu. They have tons of dinner options in a wide range of prices.

The Food

Tender’s chef was nice enough to send out a variety of appetizer samples for me to try, including shrimp two ways (hot and cold), heirloom tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella. I say this without hesitation: go for the cheese. It was creamy with a mild flavor and I wanted to swim in a pool of it. I’m pretty sure I would have eaten it all had I not had dinner partners who wanted to share.

Oh, something that you wouldn’t normally think about doing – try the bread. I usually try to avoid filling up on bread when I know I’m going to have a great meal, but Rachel, who helped organize the dinner, made me have a slice. I’m picky about bread, simply because my grandmother is the best bread baker in the world (it’s a fact.), but this was pretty darn good. It’s homemade and soft, while still being slightly chewy and having a crunchy crust. Pretty much everything you want bread to be.

Instead of doing a tasting menu like I did at Border Grill for lunch, we ordered dinner. On our waiter’s recommendation, I tried the seafood ensemble, which included Hawaiian blue prawns, Maine sea scallops, and Australian sea bass. We also chosen potato gratin and creamed corn side dishes to share at our table. I definitely recommend going that route – choosing a number of sides for everyone to try instead of each ordering your own. Our waiter recommended these two specific sides, and he wasn’t wrong, especially about the creamed corn.

I expected to love the sea scallops the most, as they’re one of my favorite foods. I wasn’t disappointed. They were perfectly seared and tasted buttery and smooth without being mushy. I have to say, though, the real star for me was the sea bass. The crispy skin was a delicious, and I almost wanted to order more.

Of course, we had to order dessert after seeing their menu. Our waiter recommended the Grandma’s chocolate cake, which was more fudgey chocolate ganache than cake and definitely not what anyone’s grandma makes at home! Our table also got the cookie platter, which was way too big for three people, let alone one person, and included everything from their version of a fig newton to homemade marshmallow.

My pick? Campfire peanut butter s’mores. Yes, you heard me correctly. It was a chocolate brownie on top of a graham cracker, topped with their marshmallows and drizzled with hot fudge. I’m unashamed to say that I ate almost the entire thing, even after being stuffed from dinner. Let’s be honest; I was really still stuffed from lunch before I even got there.

The Atmosphere

Tender has a very upscale lodge feel, especially with their unique chandelier and spun driftwood sculptures. Like I’m finding with most of the hotel restaurants, appearances can be deceiving. They have more than the small lounge and dining rooms you see from the door! If you want to host a larger party, they have dining rooms you can reserve, and they also have a great wine room, which I definitely recommend if you just want to have a few drinks with friends at the end of the night.

Overall, Tender is kind of like its name – a cozy place to eat. Try to get a booth if you eat here – they’re non-traditional wrap-around booths that make it easy to talk with your fellow diners.

The Service

While I already gushed about Rachel at Border Grill, our serving staff at Tender went above and beyond. John gave us fabulous wine recommendations, including a chardonnay that went perfectly with my dinner. Our waiter was Manuel, and not only was he attentive and professional, but he was also extremely personable. He grew up in Las Vegas, so gave us a ton of recommendation of things to see and do while in town. When we left, I kind of felt like I had made a friend, and that’s not the norm when it comes to your restaurant wait staff.

Both John and Manuel were also extremely knowledgeable about the food at Tender. You’ll notice that I mentioned we went with their recommendations often throughout the evening, and you could tell that they weren’t just pushing the specials or more expensive dishes – they were telling us what they love to eat and what they thought we would most love to eat as well.

Overall, Tender is not going to be for everyone. The food is fabulous, but the prices are a bit high for someone on an extreme budget. Remember, though – you get what you pay for. The prices are definitely worth the quality of the meal you’ll have at Tender. If you’re on a budget, consider stopping in just for wine or dessert!

The Specs:

  • Tender is open daily for dinner. Recommendations are recommended, though probably only necessarily on weekends.
  • Sunday – Thursday from 5-10, they have a $39 fixe menu available. Otherwise, you can expect for spend at least $50 for dinner there, assuming you get a drink, entree, and side. Like I said, if you’re on a tight budget, just stop in for dessert.
  • Dress is business casual.

You can view more information about the restaurant, along with their menus, on Luxor’s Tender page.

Big thanks to Ashli and Rachel for coordinating this meal!

BWE10 Lunch Recommendation: Border Grill

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Vegas is a town full of great food, but Border Grill will be tough to beat. Located in Mandalay Bay, which makes it super convenient for BlogWorld Expo attendees, there’s more to this Mexican restaurant than meets the eye. I dare you to find a better strip restaurant for casual dining.

Oh, and if you’re too lazy busy to read this review, skip to the end and watch the video instead!

Executive chef Michael Minor is someone I wish I could hire to feed me every night. Mexican food is too commonly associated with Taco Bell, and his offerings are anything but. If it wouldn’t have been a sin to keep him out of the kitchen, I could have listened to him all day, talking about learning authentic secrets to great food while on vacation in the Yucatán. It’s pretty apparent that Chef Mike loves food and spares no expense at putting out the very best.

Border Grill was nice enough to do a little tasting menu for me, so I got to sample a lot of amazing food from Chef Mike’s kitchen. My three must-haves?

  • Guacamole
  • Baja Ceviche
  • Pork Tacos
  • Fruit Sorbet

Ok, yeah, that’s four. In trying to choose just three, I found that I couldn’t.

Start with the chips and guacamole. If you’re anything like us, I bet you can’t stop nibbling, even when the rest of your meal comes.

I love ceviche, And not only was the plate pretty (see the above-right picture), but it was delicious. In fact, I fully intend to go back and have it again before I leave Las Vegas. Some ceviches are really fishy (in a bad way), but at Border Grill, it tastes cool and refreshing – perfect for a hot day. The avocado adds a smooth texture to your mouth, perfectly contrasting the bed of crunchy homemade totillas.

And how can you not love a really well done taco? At border grill, the tacos are overflowing to the point where you almost have to eat them with a fork, and my favorite, by far, was the pork. If you check out the video below, I mention Chef Mike’s slow-roasted pork at least twice. I want to have that pork’s babies. If pork isn’t your thing, though, all of the tacos I tried were outstanding. Who would have thought you can get tasty, fresh fish tacos or spicy shrimp tacos in the middle of the dessert?

Seriously, save room for dessert. I’m usually not hungry enough for a huge dessert after lunch, despite my love for chocolate cake. I got to try their homemade sorbet sampler instead – and wow. It was a great way to finish the meal, and much to my surprise, there were frozen pieces of real fruit within the creamy sorbet, which burst in your mouth when you bite them. By this point in the meal, you’ll likely feel like you want to explode from eating so much, but it is totally worth the pain.

Also, please, please, PLEASE try the flavored lemonades, either alone or as part of a mixed drink. Yum. They’re sweet, but not syrupy like some flavored drinks.

The wait staff? Amazing, though I’ve yet to come across a poor waitress or waiter in Las Vegas. Mine for lunch was Rachel, and if she’s working, do yourself a favor and request her. I understand that we might have gotten a little special treatment because they knew I was going to write a review, but Rachel clearly knew what she was talking about with every dish – that’s not something you can just quickly learn for the sake of a reviewer. I also took notice that the staff was really attentive of all the guests in our area, making sure to keep the water glass full and checking on diners regularly (but not so often that it gets annoying).

The biggest downside to this restaurant, as I see it, is that it’s easy to miss as you walk by. The restaurant looks tiny from the outside, and kind of…well…typical, nothing special. Inside, that is clearly not the case. Beyond requesting Rachel, do yourself another favor and walk downstairs for seating – you’ll eat right by the river and waterfall. The balcony is also a great option, since the view of Mandalay Bay is gorgeous. Don’t judge this restaurant book by its cover.

The Specs:

  • Mandalay Bay’s Border Grill is open for both lunch and dinner, and they also have to-go options for bloggers on the move. They have a bar, a dining room, a balcony, and an outdoor eating space available for guests.
  • It’s great for the blogger who wants to experience the best of Vegas food, but who is also on a budget. You can get an amazing lunch there for under $25 and dinner for well under $50.

Check out this video for more food porn, videos at the restaurant, and more:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiviOKv8ir8[/youtube]

Big thanks to Ashli Kimenker from Kirvin Doak Communications for joining me for lunch and making this review possible!

Food Bloggers Heat Up BlogWorld 2010

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By Babette Pepaj
Founder BakeSpace.com & TECHmunch Food Blogger Conference
Producer of TECHmunch BlogWorld Food Track

Last year’s hit film “Julie & Julia” helped show the world how food bloggers love to share their passion and inspire one-another online. After all, food is one of life’s great pleasures, and talking about food is among the oldest forms of storytelling.

So it’s no wonder that BlogWorld is teaming up with BakeSpace.com’s TECHmunch Food Blogger Conference to add the first-ever food track to this year’s BlogWorld & New Media Expo.

The TECHmunch Track will include 15 panels designed specifically to help food bloggers learn how to develop great content, grow their audience and profit financially from their hard work. The focus is on practical, hands-on information that applied easily from day-one.

In addition, Jenn-Air is sponsoring an expansive demo kitchen in the conventional hall that will feature demonstrations by top food bloggers and telechefs including Stephen Hopcraft (Bravo’s “Top Chef”) and Manouschka Guerrier (Food Network’s “Private Chefs of Beverly Hills”). Even Blogworld Founder and CEO Rick Calvert will share his famous salsa recipe. Like any great kitchen, we believe the TECHmunch kitchen at BlogWorld will be the heart and soul of the conference. It’s not only where you’ll go when you’re hungry for great food, but also when you’re hungry for great conversation.

If you’re a food blogger, we hope the TECHmunch panels and demonstrations inspire you to take your blog to the next level. When the folks at BlogWorld decided to add a food track, they were determined not to just throw together a bunch of panels and invite food brands to stalk attendees. Instead, they wanted to create a genuine community. In this way TECHmunch at BlogWorld will be very different from most other food blogger conferences.

While we’ll focused on issues relating specifically to food bloggers, everyone at BlogWorld is welcome to attend the TECHmunch panels, which will feature some of the best minds in montezation, promotion, developing great content.

Below is quick summary of what we have planned. See you in Vegas!

Friday, October 15th

10:30amSalsa with Rick
BlogWorld Kitchen
Join BlogWorld’s very own Rick Calvert as he whips up is famous salsa recipe.

11:15amBBQ Demo w/ Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn”
BlogWorld Kitchen
Chat about all things BBQ and creating mouthwatering content.

12:00pmSetting Up Your Digital Kitchen
BlogWorld Kitchen
A lively discussion on live steaming and video content creation (in the field, at home and on the set). Sharing tips, tools and how-tos by content pioneers

1:15pmPhoto Demo with Diane and Todd of White on Rice
BlogWorld Kitchen
Diane and Todd share their wisdom for creating beautiful photographs that will keep your visitors wanting more.

1:50pmJenn-Air Intro
BlogWorld Kitchen
Check out what’s new in the kitchen.

2:00pmWorking with Brands
BlogWorld Kitchen
So you built a website and now brands are coming to you. So, what now? How do you communicate effectively with brands, build relationships and leverage those partnerships?

3:15pmThe Art & Science of Recipe Writing BlogWorld
BlogWorld Kitchen
Creating rich content can satisfy your readers, but how can it also drive traffic to your site? Understanding how to organize and write your content so it’s useful and highly indexable on the Web is an important lesson for building your community.

4:30pmFancy Fast Food Demo
BlogWorld Kitchen
Join Erik Trinidad from Fancy Fast Food as he shows Melissa Rowley how to turn boring dinner into a blog worthy opportunity.

Saturday October 16

10:45 AM What’s Gaby Cooking?
BlogWorld Kitchen
Join Gaby Dalkin as she cooks a favorite recipe and shares her passion for food and chats about creating video content, getting a content syndication deal and how she develops mouth-watering recipes.

11:00 AM Getting Noticed: Building Your PR Plan
Tradewinds C/9
Building a PR plan is imperative if you want to create some buzz around your site/blog/business/brand. Join our industry leaders as they share tools, tips and case studies creating a PR plan.

11:45 AM Food Trends: Curating Flavors on the Web BlogWorld
BlogWorld Kitchen
Writing great content is one thing, curating it is another story. Some content aggregators are masters at hand selecting the best content to share on the Web driving huge traffic to your site.

12:15 PM Monetizing Your Food Blog & Building Your Brand
Tradewinds C/9
Join us for a colorful discussion on monetizing your content, creating offline opportunities and turning your brand into a scalable business. We’ll hear from industry pros on how they built their businesses.

12:15 PM Get Offline (Originally a TECHmunch panel, moved to “Community”
Tradewinds A/B 10
Building a rich community doesn’t just happen online… Web communities are organizing meetups, tweetups, and community parties to connect IRL.

1:00 PM Cooking Demo: TV Chefs
BlogWorld Kitchen
Interested in turning your passion into a TV gig? Come to the BlogWorld kitchen to meet Chef Stephen Hocraft (Cheftestant Bravo’s Top Chef and Executive Chef at MGM’S Seablue by Michael Mina) and Manouschka Guerrier, Chef on Food Network’s Private Chefs of Beverly Hills. Not only will they demonstrate a killer paella recipe, but they will share with you their journey to TV Chef stardom.

2:45 PM Writing Local: Tasting Las Vegas
BlogWorld Kitchen
Tapping into your local community is a great way to build community, capture visitors and attract press. But what happens when your city is Las Vegas? With so much food, entertainment and visitors from around the globe, how do you keep your content relevant to your community?

3:30 PM Leveraging Traditional Media – How to Get on Food Editor’s Radar Tradewinds C/9
Ever wonder how content finds its way into the paper? Join some of the top food editors in the US as we hash out what it takes to get on an editor’s radar so you can leverage their readers to help grow your blog readership.

TECHmunch Producer Babette Pepaj (@BakeSpace) is also founder and CEO of BakeSpace.com – which was launched in 2006 as the Web’s first food social network and recipe swap. The grassroots site earned back-to-back Webby Award nominations for “Best Social Network in 2009 and 2010. Prior to launching BakeSpace.com, Babette worked for more than a decade producing and directing reality TV shows such as MTV’s “The Real World” and “Road Rules.”

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The 2010 Tasting Las Vegas 7 & 7 Restaurant Picks

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You won’t find a better city on Earth when it comes to great eating than Las Vegas! I feel that it is my civic duty to ensure everyone involved with the 2010 Blogworld & New Media Expo eats well while they’re here in Our Little Twinkle In The Desert. For your perusal is my 2010 Tasting Las Vegas 7 & 7 Restaurant Picks; 7 restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip and 7 restaurants off the Las Vegas Strip (plus a few bonuses) that represent the excellent and diverse eats that our fair city has to offer. Enjoy and eat well!

On The Las Vegas Strip –

First Food and Bar at the Palazzo
First Food and Bar is one of my favorite places in town. Chef Sam DeMarco and crew present a unique and sophisticated spin on American comfort foods that are wonderfully flavorful and always use the best of ingredients. First is great for lunch, dinner and proper late night hang. For those in the boozing mood, First has one of the best Happy Hour deals in town (3pm-7pm & 11pm-1am) with 2-for-1 Draft Beers, Stoli vodka and Patron tequila. A few dishes I’d recommend are the Walnut Shrimp, Mykonos Gyros Eggrolls and Scotty’s 5-Layer Chicken Fingers. Oh yeah, and get the Philly Cheesesteak Dumplings. And the Dr. Pepper BBQ St. Louis Ribs! Oh! And the…..well….you get the picture. It’s all good at First Food and Bar!

You can follow First Food and Bar on Twitter at @FirstFoodandBar

RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay

Yes folks, you can have seafood in the desert. Good seafood. RM Seafood isn’t just one of the best seafood restaurants in Las Vegas, it’s one of the best seafood restaurants you’ll find anywhere. Chef Rick Moonen isn’t just an accomplished chef, but is also on the forefront of Sustainable Seafood advocacy, so not only will you eat great food, but you’ll eat food that is fished responsibly. RM Seafood has two components; downstairs being a more casual space and upstairs a more intimate space for fine dining. Downstairs is open for lunch and dinner. Keep in mind that the menu is seasonal, so these recommendations might not be there in their current form by the time Blogworld rolls around, but the Alaskan King Salmon with Corn Succotash and Alaskan Halibut with English Peas in a Basil Broth are fabulous. Upstairs, the best way to fly is the (currently) $75 5-course prix fixe tasting menu, which is among the most sophisticated food you will find in Las Vegas and for a bargain of a price!

You can follow Chef Rick Moonen on Twitter at @RickMoonen

Julian Serrano at Aria

The Spanish Tapas tradition is my favorite way to eat; a variety of small plates, packed with flavor and meant to be shared with friends (over many pitchers of sangria, of course!). While Chef Julian Serrano made his name as a French chef with his highly-acclaimed Picasso at the Bellagio, Chef Serrano is a native Spaniard and this is the cuisine nearest to his heart. You MUST get the Pan Manchego. At first glance it’s a simple piece of bread with tomato and aged manchego cheese, but it puts on a clinic how truly magical the best of ingredients will make the best of food if executed properly. I also highly recommend the Tuna-Raspberry Skewers, the Chicken Croquetas and the dish I want to eat everyday of my life, Huevos Estrellados, which is eggs, fried potatoes and chorizo.

N9ne Steakhouse at The Palms

Well, The Palms, which houses N9ne Steakhouse, isn’t actually on Las Vegas Blvd., but it’s close and the powers-that-be usually group The Palms as a “Strip Resort.” Be prepared, N9ne is not your daddy’s steakhouse. It’s loud, hip, trendy and you’ll probably find yourself tripping over celebrities and professional athletes on the way to your table. For my money, it’s the best tasting, most consistently well-prepared steak in town and that’s why I go there. If loud music and beautiful people ain’t your thing, then check out Wolfgang Puck’s CUT at the Palazzo for all of your charred cow needs.

You can follow N9ne Steakhouse on Twitter at @N9neSteakLV

Wazuzu at Encore

Everyone has their favorite sushi joint, everyone has their favorite dim sum joint and everyone has their favorite Thai place, but no one in this town knocks all Asian cuisines out of the park in one place like Chef Jet Tila and his crew do at Wazuzu. Wazuzu is categorized as a pan-Asian restaurant, and while such a title would cause most authenticity sticklers to scurry and flee, everything I’ve eaten at Wazuzu is legit. Great sushi rolls and sashimi, Chinese Shu Mai pork dumplings that are exquisite, Thai Chicken Panang Curry that is of the best I’ve had anywhere and his signature Drunken Noodles (I always get beef) are guaranteed to make you happy.

You can follow Chef Jet Tila on Twitter at @jettila

Silk Road at Vdara

The Best Breakfast in Las Vegas. Without question. Sure, greasy spoon diners have their place in life, but if you are looking for a unique breakfast using only Farmers Market fresh ingredients and the finest spices on the planet, then Silk Road is the place for you to have your morning meal. Influenced by the diverse flavors of the ancient Silk Road, Chef Martin Heierling and crew have created a space for those flavors to shine on breakfast foods. With Crispy French Toast with Cinnamon Custard and Cider Reduction, Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes with Orange Blossom Syrup and Candied Rose Petals and Free Range Turkey Hash with Piquillo Peppers and Kirmizi Butter…this is half a world away from your neighborhood Lumberjack Breakfast. On Sunday, Silk Road hosts a fabulous brunch that is a tasting of much of the menu and runs for $39 which includes a mimosa or bloody mary. Silk Road is only open for breakfast and lunch, but if you miss this and still want to check out Chef Heierling’s cuisine, check out his other concept in town, Sensi at the Bellagio, which is headed up by Chef Roy Ellamar for dinner. Excellent food.

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand

The legendary Joël Robuchon wasn’t named “Chef of the Century” by some fluke. The guy knows his stuff. He has more Michelin stars than anyone else on the planet and his food deserves it. Food of his caliber obviously doesn’t come cheap; a meal at his neighboring signature restaurant, his only fine dining restaurant in the United States, will run you about $400 a head if you do the 16-course degustation. Fortunately, the more “casual” L’Atelier will allow you to eat some extraordinarily sophisticated food with less of a jolt to the bank account. Don’t get me wrong, you’re still going to pay a few shekels for it, and by “casual” I don’t mean that there’s banjos hung on the wall and a staff wearing Pieces of Flair will sing Happy Birthday to you as they present your complimentary cupcake with flaming sparkler. The “casual” aspect of L’Atelier means that the superfluous ceremony of fine dining (think white tablecloths, 20 different glasses on the table and a different sized fork for each bite) is stripped away and all you’re left with is perfect food. Examples of which are the Langoustine Fritter with Basil, Burger with Foie Gras, or the Steak Tartar with Frites. If you don’t have a cholesterol check anytime soon, Robuchon is probably most famous for his Pommes Puree, which are more butter than actual potato. This ain’t your momma’s mashed potatoes.

You can follow L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon on Twitter at @RobuchonLV

Off The Strip –

Bachi Burger
470 E. Windmill Ln. #100
Las Vegas, NV 89123

Asian inspired hamburgers. Who woulda thunk? I’m certainly glad Chef Lorin Watada, formerly corporate chef of Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Restaurants, did…and in so doing…created one of the biggest local hot spots in all of Las Vegas! Bachi Burger is delicious, unique and very wallet friendly. Hand-formed hamburgers combined with the flavors of Asia including Korea’s Kalbi and Vietnam’s Banh-Mi, be prepared for the explosion of flavor that Bachi Burger is known for. And while the Chili Fried Chicken appetizer is a must get, make sure you save room for dessert! Pastry Chef Keris is of the best pastry chefs in town and you won’t believe sweets of such high quality can be gotten at such a low price!

You can follow Bachi Burger on Twitter at @BachiBurgerLV

Marche Bacchus
2620 Regatta Drive, #106
Las Vegas, NV 89128

Marche Bacchus is a long ways from the Las Vegas Strip, and once you go inside, you feel like you instantly traveled another couple thousand miles away from it. Well done French cuisine in a fabulous setting, especially if you get to enjoy the outdoor dining space with view of the lake and surrounding McMansions. The Cote de Porc (Frenchy way of saying pork chop) and Scallop Risotto are good, and of course don’t forget the Foie Gras as an appetizer. Also, Marche Bacchus has a wine shop component, so you can purchase good wines without the heinous markup and enjoy them with the tasty food and comfortable surroundings.

Origin India
4480 Paradise Road #1200
Las Vegas, NV 89169

Origin India is far from a standard Indian curry joint. The best way I can describe Chef Kuldeep Singh’s cooking is that he combines the flavors of India with French technique and a New American sensitivity to premium ingredients. This is sophisticated Indian cuisine at its finest. Sure, you will find traditional items like Lamb Rogan Josh and Chicken Makhani, but they are done in such a way that you have the essence and the heart of India’s flavors, but the protein will always still be the star of the show. Origin India also has a true mixologist on board, and the cocktails made here are some of the best in the city. If you’re looking for more standard fare Indian food, Namaste Indian Cuisine in the Commercial Center on Sahara Ave (next door to Lotus of Siam) has the best Indian Lunch Buffet in town and is only $9.99, putting it as one of the best deals in town!

You can follow Origin India on Twitter at @OriginIndia

Pasta Shop Ristorante
2525 W. Horizon Ridge Pkwy
Henderson, NV 89052

By the time this is published anywhere, the Pasta Shop would have closed its longtime location on Tropicana Ave and have re-opened on Horizon Ridge Pkwy in nearby Henderson. Simply the best noodle you’ll find in town, The Pasta Shop offers some of the best Italian dishes served anywhere. Of all the restaurants in Las Vegas, I’ve been going to the Pasta Shop the longest and it has always been among the best and most consistent plates of food of any cuisine. The Spinach Linguini with Oil and Garlic won’t get you many dates, but it is well worth the…aroma. Another big hit is the Shrimp Fra Diavolo which is one of the better balanced spicy red sauces out there.

Firefly
3900 Paradise Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89169

and

The Plaza Hotel
1 Main Street
Las Vegas, NV 89101

There are few things on Earth that are better for a late night hang than Spanish Tapas, and The Firefly does them quite well and at very reasonable prices. The energy is palpable when you eat at Firefly, as it is one of the hotspots for the young and hip. The Stuffed Dates, a Spanish staple, are fantastic as is both the Camerones a la Diabla (shrimp in a sweet and spicy sauce) and the al Ajillo (lemon-garlic butter sauce). The Manchego Mac & Cheese is also one of Firefly’s most popular picks and my own personal must-get-everytime-I-go dish is actually a dessert; Banana-Nutella Sandwiches. Oh yes.

You can follow Firefly on Twitter at @FireflyLV

Ichiza
4355 Spring Mountain Rd_
Las Vegas, NV 89102

In many ways, Ichiza is the Japanese version of the Firefly in town; a great late night hang full of the young and energetic. Ichiza is what’s known as an izakaya, or Japanese Bar Food joint. Mostly serving small plates, the food is meant to be accompanied with beer, shochu or sake. The menu is scattered on cards posted all over the walls which makes for an interesting adventure in deciding on what to eat. A must have is the Butter Corn, buttery corn love with a crab rangoon type cream cheese on a crisp cracker There’s also a fine assortment of Yakitori (chicken on a stick) and pork belly dishes that you should try. All of them. Oh, and make sure you give the Honey Toast and Coffee Jello a shot!

Naked City Pizza Shop

(inside Moon Doggie’s Bar)_
3240 S. Arville Rd. #E_
Las Vegas, NV 89102

The best Buffalo Wings in Las Vegas. Why? Because Chef / Owner Chris Palmeri is from Buffalo and even went back to Buffalo to work and learn with the best Buffalo-style wings and Buffalo-style pizza makers right before Naked City Pizza Shop opened its doors. That’s what I call dedication to the craft! The first of the Naked City Shops, the Naked City Sandwich Shop, had the best sandwiches in Las Vegas until they closed its doors and folded the sandwich arm into the Pizza Shop. So I guess that means NCPS has the best sandwiches in Las Vegas, too. The NCPS has a unique location, inside Moon Doggie’s Bar on the corner of Desert Inn and Arville. You can eat, drink, smoke, play video poker, and kill virtual exotic animals with the arcade game in the corner. The way good food was meant to be enjoyed.

You can follow Naked City Pizza Shop on Twitter at @NakedCityLV

Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife. He is the founder and writer for http://TastingLasVegas.com, a blog and podcast dedicated to news and reviews of the Las Vegas restaurant scene.

You can join Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

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