Friends, Food & Fun in Las Vegas
By Mike McCloud
the World Food Championships
I've been visiting Las Vegas on a regular basis for about 15 years now, the past three in a serious way as a part-time resident and major event developer. And yes, I've been known to spend significant time at the tables. Perhaps a bit TOO much, considering my "luck" or lack thereof!
But here's the interesting thing about that timeframe and my personal experience. At some point, somehow, I evolved from a bright-eyed tourist, someone who was enamored by all the glitz and glamour, to a person who truly feels at peace and at home in a city that never runs out of energy.
It might sound a bit funny. But here's what I tell people about Las Vegas now. From the Strip to Downtown, from the high rises to the high limit tables….it's really NOT about being lucky. It's about knowing how to WIN.
That's why launching the World Food Championships two years ago in the city of fortune and fame made perfect sense to me. Where else can you find the DNA of a perfect venue for the largest food fight in history? Stories of rags to riches. Equal opportunity for any stack of chips. A history of championship titles and epic events. Countless options of daring, dazzling entertainment. And a world-class culinary scene that is fast becoming the talk of the nation.
Yes, "Only Vegas." A city that revels in a sultry reputation at times, but one that also reveals a soul and an incredible group of community leaders when you look under its colorful felt.
So now, after crowning two World Food champions, awarding more than $600,000 in prize money, and investing more than $2 million in a major food enterprise here, all while bringing thousands of foodies to this town to create an even bigger economic impact, I am very proud to call Las Vegas my second home and the crown jewel to the World Food Championship enterprise.
But more importantly, I am humbled and thankful that so many leaders and organizations here have embraced our celebration of cuisine competition. From integrated partners like Le Cordon Bleu, CSN and UNLV, to media partners like this magazine, Greenspun and Clear Channel, to venues like the D, Golden Nugget, El Cortez and Caesars, to visionaries like Downtown Project and LVCVA, from individuals like Vic Vegas to Chris Meyer and Mayor Carolyn Goodman….our road to the most exciting food championship in the world has been paved by many "locals" who have lent us their time, their energy, their influence and their passion.
The payoff for all of our efforts will occur soon, as a six-week TV series chronicles the road to food fame and fortune this next spring on an A&E network channel. In addition to the world of Food Sport, the City of Las Vegas will become the ultimate beneficiary of all this exciting promotion and visibility. And as the rising tide of WFC brings an even bigger wave of economic buzz and activity to Vegas for many years to come, I simply want to say THANK YOU to all of our local partners, vendors, supporters, sponsors and competitors. In reality, all of YOU are the true champions.
I stand in awe of your tireless efforts and invaluable inspiration. And for that reason, I think I'll amend my statement about my personal gambling in Las Vegas these days. To be associated with such a group of fantastic, passionate, hard-working people and organizations, in the most exciting city in the world, sure does make me one lucky guy.
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