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Arts and Entertainment

Wolfgang Puck's 26th Annual American Wine & Food Festival

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Saturday night was the main event in the three-day American Wine and Food Festival festival that started with Red Hot @ Red Seven Friday and culminated in a chef's dinner on Sunday, Saturday evening's event was a full-blown extravaganza.

Held at The Universal Backlot, guests were given the opportunity to party amongst rarely-seen sets, such as Spartacus Square, European Square, European Streets, Court of Miracles, and East of Denver Street, I will admit I don't know what IS East of Denver, exactly. But the setting and lighting were spectacular, a fitting backdrop.

The large crowd, estimated at 2,000, were shuttled between the parking lot on the Universal trams, and when those things are not being attacked by sharks, earthquakes and flash floods, those suckers can really move! The wild ride was just a precursor for the wild ride that was to come.

$300 a pop is definitely steep, but I could imagine them charging far more -- and getting it. The large crowd definitely was not complaining. Starting at 6pm, and continuing until 11pm, it was like 5 hours of gnawing on the world's grandest gingerbread house.

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Whereas Red Seven primarily focused on beef, this event had -- well, everything. Not only did some of the greatest restaurants across the country donate their time, but their celebrity chefs were there to represent. Who was there? Everyone. Coming from as far as the East Coast, as well as new foodie hotspot Las Vegas, chefs showed up en masse to raise money for Meals on Wheels.

The event was enormous. Table after table held an endless buffet of wine, champagne, cocktails, and food, glorious food. If one can make any complaint at all, it was that the event was so large and spread out that it was simply impossible to cover everything. Although I saw long-time favorite Paul Prudhomme in person, I never did find his table. Nor did I find any of the many beer tables. We were provided a detailed map, and I spent much of my time chatting and drinking, so maybe that was my fault. The narrow cobblestone walks leading to some areas were treacherous for those in high-heels, and guests using manual wheelchairs had some trouble wheeling up the steep inclines.

The inconvenience of cobblestone was a trade-off for one of the coolest party locales around. Every corner held a new surprise, and there were plenty of nooks and crannies to soak up the melted butter. A number of bands played, but the hardest partying was being done in the Perrier-Jouet lounge.

By the time I made it out of the lounge close to 11pm, most of the food stands were closed or closing, so there was nothing left to do but head for the luge. It was one hell of a good time, filled with champagne, caviar, cute flirty chefs and cool-ass luge girls. And yes, I called myself a taxi. Still, I wonder how much the tram driver would have charged to take me all the way home? That would have ROCKED.