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Food University at Caesars Palace to turn average cooks into exceptional home chefs

LAS VEGAS -- A lineup of well-known chefs have just been added to the faculty of Food University at Caesars Palace, taking place March 27-29, which is designed to transform fun-loving foodies from average cooks into exceptional home chefs in just 72 hours with a dynamic schedule of classes.

Food Network series "Ace of Cakes" star Duff Goldman, winner of season 10 of "Hell’s Kitchen" Christina Wilson, acclaimed pastry chef François Payard, chef and restaurateur Frank Pellegrino Jr., and the "Godfather of Italian-American cooking" Steve Martorano are part of the team that participants will learn from and interact with at Food U.

Goldman, owner of Charm City Cakes bakeries in Baltimore and Los Angeles, as well as the do-it-yourself cake bakery Cakemix in West Hollywood, will present a hands-on cake-decorating seminar during Food University’s three-day curriculum.

Payard, owner of more than a dozen popular pâtisseries and bakeries worldwide, including Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro at Caesars Palace, will teach a class called “Chocolate Epiphany.”

Pellegrino, proprietor of the storied Rao’s restaurants in New York and Las Vegas inside Caesars Palace, will lead a class focused on preparing classic Italian dishes.

Classes taught by Wilson — who earned the role of head chef at Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas following her “Hell’s Kitchen” win — and Martorano, owner of Martorano’s restaurants in Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, Fla. and the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, will be announced soon.

Schedule and tuition

Food University’s schedule will comprise three days packed with classes and epicurean experiences.

Unlike any other food festival or culinary event, Food University offers food lovers a chance to rub elbows with top chefs, sommeliers, mixologists, cheese experts, fine food purveyors and even farmers — all of whom will serve as Food U faculty.

Food U "scholars" will not merely eat, drink and learn in the presence of lauded chefs; indeed, they will enthusiastically don their own chef whites and hone their cooking skills alongside celebrity chef “professors.”

"Tuition" of $1,995 per person includes:

• Nine distinctive, hands-on cooking classes taught by some of the most accomplished and recognized chefs of our time;

• Three in-depth seminars covering topics such as wine and food pairing, eating healthy and even a complete chocolate tutorial;

• Two “field trips” offering an “insiders’” look at what it’s like behind the scenes at some of the Las Vegas’ most exciting restaurants;

• An exclusive and highly entertaining seminar featuring Francesco LaFranconi of the Southern Wine and Spirits Hospitality Mixology Program, normally available only to hotel and restaurant executives;

• Three breakfasts and three lunches;

• An interactive celebrity chef competition presentation;

• A celebratory graduation ceremony where guests receive their “Enlightened Palate” degree ;

• Special rates on Caesars Palace accommodations;

• All utensils, tools, cookware and ingredients;

• Proceeds from “admissions” to benefit Keep Memory Alive, an organization dedicated to finding cures for brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS.

The inaugural event will culminate in a festive — and well-deserved — ceremony for Food U’s first graduating class. They will receive the coveted Food University “Enlightened Palate” diploma. In addition, each student enrolled for the first classes will receive a private VIP invitation for a never-before-seen prestigious wineries tour in Napa Valley previously off-limits to the public.

Culinary team and faculty

Food University is the collaboration among Caesars Palace, philanthropist and hospitality industry leader Larry Ruvo, Food Network co-founder Robin Leach and veteran culinary entertainment producer Richard Gore.

Food University’s culinary faculty will include James Beard Award-winning Chef Alex Stratta; acclaimed cheese expert Laura Werlin, author of the James Beard Award-winning “All-American Cheese and Wine Book”; Jeffrey Elliot, author of “The Zwilling J.A. Henckels Complete Book of Knife Skills”; chef and TV personality Claudine Pépin and Colman Andrews, editorial director, The Daily Meal. Bradford Thompson, founder of Bellyful Consulting and James Beard Award-winning chef, will serve as Food University’s culinary director.

Sponsors for the inaugural Food University Las Vegas at Caesars Palace are cookware manufacturer Fagor America and The Daily Meal, Spanfeller Media Group's (SMG) mega food site, which will be the digital media sponsor of the event.

For more information Food U, click HERE. To purchase tickets, call 866-840-8822 or click HERE. Gift certificates are available by e-mailing info@fooduniversitylasvegas.com.

Hotel accommodations can be booked directly through Caesars Palace at 866-227-5938. Special rates are available for participants.

Special offer for SDGLN readers

Readers who make Food University reservations over the phone at 866-840-8822 and mention "San Diego Gay & Lesbian News" will receive a $100 discount off the tuition rate.