UNLVino’s Sake Fever Coming To Resorts World

UNLVino, a culinary and educational tradition that dates back 50 years, returns this spring with a party called Sake Fever on April 19 at the Resorts World pools.

Bites, Booze and One Big Fish

As always, it will be sponsored by Southern Glazer’s Wine And Spirits, the same company (with a new name) that hosted the first event for 30 or 40 students in one of its warehouses in 1974. As the name indicates, sake will be a star of this show—alongside some of the Japanese beers and whiskeys in the beverage distributor’s portfolio.

Between 10 and 15 restaurants are expected to offer small bites to accompany the booze. These include Resorts World restaurants like Genting Palace and Kusa Nori and top off-Strip establishments like GYU+, Suzuya Café, and Kiyoshi Tonkatsu. The team from Naked Fish’s will break down a whole tuna in front of the crowd.

“You’ll literally be able to watch them carve a 300-pound tuna, and then take a piece of that tuna right on a plate, right there,” Southern Glazers’ Allen Carter promised during an interview with the Food and Loathing podcast.

One Night Only

In the years leading up to COVID, UNLVino had morphed into a three-night celebration, which included a Champagne-focused event called Bubble-licious, an Asian-themed night known as Sake Fever and a massive Grand Tasting. In the years since, they’ve been striving to get back on track with smaller offerings. There are huge plans to host a “giant blowout” next year to celebrate the 50th event (a few years were missed since the 1974 kickoff, so it can be tough to calculate proper anniversaries), but in the meantime, Carter and his team decided to focus on just one this year.

“My marketing director and I were talking about ways we could slowly bring things back without having to hit it with the big, giant event,” Carter recalls.

He continued. “And she said to me one day, ‘My favorite event was always Sake Fever. It was unusual. It was different. It was a neat blend of products. And people really loved it.’ And I said, ‘Let’s just bring back that one component so that we can do something this year and do something interesting.’”

For the Students

Over the years, UNLV students began to take a larger role in planning and executing the event. The current partnership with the university allows a select group of students to plan and execute UNLVino as a for-credit course at the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality.

“It’s a very prestigious class for the seniors,” says Paiton Zilio, one of about 17 graduating seniors planning and executing the event for college credit.  “We had to submit a resume and apply [for] the class.”

She told Food and Loathing that those accepted get an amazing education and make fantastic contacts.

“It’s a very significant event in the hospitality industry. And when we speak to hospitality professionals in the industry who have already established their careers, [including] people at Resorts World who are helping us plan the event, they’re like, ‘Wow, when we were seniors, we helped plan UNLVino!’”

Just as importantly, 100% of the ticket price ($75 in advance, $100 at the door) goes to scholarships for UNLV students. And as one of those recipients, Zilio feels a particular obligation to carry the tradition forward.

“For me,” she says, “it represents a legacy: years and years of work that hospitality students have completed and worked for.”

UNLVino Sake Fever will occur Friday, April 19, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. at the Resorts World pool. Guests can purchase tickets through UNLVino.com.