Suzanne Somers and a Pizza Expo, too!

A press conference with food AND a famous blond brought out the photographers.  Photo by Diane Taylor
A press conference with food AND a famous blonde brought out the photographers.
Photo by Diane Taylor

Last Wednesday, I had a twofer: two events that I wanted very much to attend. Fortunately, the locations were next door to each other, and the timing was perfect.

Actress/singer/author/entrepreneur Suzanne Somers was appearing to announce a new affiliation with the Westgate. Not one to ignore a press invitation, I went to the Westgate. Walking in the front door, the musty smell of an old hotel (Las Vegas Hilton) was still there, but when I got to the area of the press conference, the back of what has been known as the Shimmer Cabaret, the air had been perfumed and smelled wonderful. Lots of press folks were there, some with lenses that could have spotted every pore on the 68-year-old entertainer’s face. Also, a number of chefs or cooks were in the back. Yes, we were to be fed, too (foods made from Somers’ recipes).

The press conference was my first view of the man who runs the Westgate Las Vegas, Chief Operating Officer Mark Waltrip, and my first in-person view of the Westgate Las Vegas owner David Siegel. Waltrip was very well spoken and seemed approachable.

As for Siegel, I had seen the documentary, Queen of Versailles, featuring Siegel and his wife facing the recession. In the film, Siegel looked too old to take on a new challenge. However, in person, Siegel seemed quite in charge and very enthusiastic about the Westgate Las Vegas’s future and its $100 million renovation. (After the presentations, I met one of the Westgate’s senior staff members who acknowledged the musty smell and said once the carpet is replaced, that smell should be gone. She also agreed to have the “back-door” bench and ashtray mentioned by me in a previous article replaced. I’ll be checking.)

So, Somers is introduced and as the attached video says, she hopes to put the renovated Westgate on the map. She will have a residency at the hotel and a suite of rooms decorated just for her. Suzanne’s products will be sold in the Suzanne Somers Spa; her recipes will be used at Suzanne’s Organic Spa Cafe. Her performances at the Westgate will begin May 23 and extend into the next year.

And Suzanne? She looked great when she walked on stage. Her face is a bit puffy and older, but what we saw — were the legs. She wore a short black dress with heels and those legs alone might be worth the price of admission. For a lady eligible for Medicare, she looked fabulous. Somers was also enthusiastic, charming and frankly… I came away thinking she and the Westgate might be great partners. Ticket prices for her “intimate” show may be beyond some locals’ budgets (starting at $65), but Somers is well-known by many of Las Vegas’s visitors (she’s had two TV series, many shopping-channel appearances, has authored numerous books and is currently on Dancing With The Stars), so we’ll see. Me? I was favorably impressed.

I tasted only one of the foods offered at the press conference, because I knew I had pizza in my future. I walked from the Westgate to the Las Vegas Convention Center North Hall for my second event of the day, Pizza Expo 2015..

The Pizza Expo trade show was held March 24-26 with an expected attendance of more than 12,000 people.
The Pizza Expo trade show was held March 24-26 with an expected attendance of more than 12,000 people. Pizzas and their chefs truly “come alive” at the expo.
Photo by Diane Taylor

What was the most startling thing I learned at Pizza Expo? That pepperoni (my favorite pizza topping) is typically made from pork. I don’t know what I had thought before, maybe that there were Pepperoni Cattle somewhere. At any rate, I now know pepperoni is a pork product, just like bacon … but one of the exhibitors said his company can keep the flavor of the pork products, but do it with chicken, turkey and lean beef. Really? (Apparently some Jewish sects and Muslims typically don’t eat pork, but they may like the taste of pepperoni and bacon, so would order the substitute.) So maybe in some of my future pizzas, pepperoni will not be made of pork. Yes, bit by bit, conventions are giving me an education.

Also noted at the Pizza Expo: bellies. Folks who love pizza and maybe even make it a career … often eat pizza, and a growing waistline is the result. For the skinny folks, the Pizza Expo even gives them an opportunity to grow a belly because of the number of samples available for tasting. Hello Weight Watchers!