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Zoom In: Donald Contursi
Q&A with Donald Contursi // Founder and President // Lip Smacking Foodie Tours // www.vegasfoodietour.com
What inspired you to create Lip Smacking Foodie Tours?
The decade I spent working in several top Vegas restaurants and steakhouses left me hungry for more. Immersing myself in blogs and articles, visiting new restaurants and developing inside connections, I saw the opportunity to share my passion and knowledge with others. With hundreds of restaurants on and off the Strip, deciding where to dine, and what to order, can be overwhelming—and expensive. Showcasing top restaurants and their signature dishes, our tours, ranging from 2.5 to 5 hours, eliminate the guesswork while providing a unique VIP experience.
For groups of up to 75, our menu includes the Afternoon Culinary Adventures tour of four top Strip restaurants, or five-restaurant Savors of The Strip evening tour. The Downtown Lip Smacking Tour showcases the local chef-driven scene in the original Las Vegas, weekenders have the Lip Smacking Boozy Brunch, and our Savory Bites & Neon Lights tour concludes with a Maverick Helicopters’ Strip flyover and limo coach back to the hotel.
All tours feature rock star treatment. Bypassing the line and ushered straight to the table, the group samples three to four of the restaurant’s signature dishes while interacting with the chef. It’s VIP, but great value, because sampling signature dishes the traditional way can cost an arm and a leg. Between restaurants, our guides also incorporate local flavor by sharing insider information about Las Vegas.
Food brings people together, and for groups, we create uniquely memorable experiences while fostering mingling and networking. On our tours, you meet and socialize with everybody.
Does dining qualify as entertainment in Las Vegas?
Absolutely. Many restaurants incorporate an entertainment factor to elevate the experience—I call it “dinner and a show.” For example, Jaleo at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, from superstar Spanish chef Jose Andres, features an open-fire paella pit with a million-dollar ventilation system. When the paella is ready, a cowbell rings and the pan is passed around for photos. Guests can eat croquettes from a shoe (Andres’ riff on “soul” food), and heads tilted back, drink from a narrow-spouted porron.
At Milos, also at The Cosmopolitan, guests can hand-select Mediterranean seafood flown in that day for their meal. Our beverage package includes ARIA’s Sage restaurant, featuring a flaming tableside absinthe preparation. “Interactive, engaging, social media-ready and entertaining” are key criteria for our tour venues.