A “Totally Rewarding” Evening

I was honored and excited when Caesar’s Total Rewards hired me as an “influencer” for their latest and greatest Total Rewards campaign. Their goal? To help you “Plot Your Escape” to all that is fun and fabulous in entertainment. Glad I could be of service!

Raos-family-shot

My Dad's retirement dinner at Rao's in Vegas

I had my first brush with Caesar’s (which is just one of the many casinos included in Total Rewards) years ago when my friends and I planned a vacation to Vegas around the opening of Rao’s. (Sidebar backstory: As an Italian girl and foodie, Rao’s in NYC is the stuff of Italian legend. It is impossible to get in to the NYC Rao’s so the opening of Rao’s in Vegas was the perfect excuse for us to take a vacation there!) We returned a few years later to celebrate my Dad’s retirement and had an amazing few days there- including another dinner at Rao’s!

Gotham-Hall-Stained-Glass

Gotham Hall, NYC

The kickoff of the new Total Rewards campaign began with a surprise concert at the amazing and beautiful Gotham Hall in NYC. Simultaneously across the country, three other concerts were bringing fun and fabulous music to other lucky fans. As my + 1 (KF of coarse!) and I made our way into Gotham hall Katharine McPhee was walking the red carpet! She is gorgeous and looks as sweet in person as she does in Smash. (I so wanted to get a photo with her when we were inches away from each other in the VIP lounge but my TV instincts kicked in and I just couldn’t ask. When you work in TV you learn never to bother the talent!).

Katherine-McPhee-Red-Carpet

Katherine McPhee looking beautiful in a green satin dress

We made our way in, got our bracelets and headed upstairs to the decked out “Diamond VIP Lounge” where Diddy’s CÎROC vodka was flowing!

This-way-to-the-VIP-lounge

This way to the VIP lounge!

Ciroc-Vodka-bottles

Oh, Hello! Ciroc and I made "eye contact" as soon as we walked in! 🙂

Most tables were reserved for “VIP VIPs” so KF and I grabbed a ledge and people and style watched as the delicious hors d’oeuvres were passed…

VIP-lounge-buzz

Kf holding our VIP ledge area while the Diamond Lounge buzz goes on around us- fun!

Petite-Crab-Cake

A delicious and cute crab cake...

Mini-Mushroom-Cannaloni

Petite Mushroom Cannaloni- I am totally making these... they are wrapped in wonton wrappers- brilliant!

SDB-petite-burger

and, my fave, the cutest petite burger ever! Delicious too!

Before we knew it the Total Rewards clock struck 9 and Mel B came out to kick off the show!

Mel-B-on-the-monitor

We watched Mel B's introduction and a few clips from other shows that were happening across the country on one of the monitors since VIP the balcony edge was literally packed to the brim!

Diddy-on-monitor

Then she introduced Diddy...

Once Diddy’s intro smoke cleared, I realized the monitor wasn’t going to cut it for us! KF and I quickly packed up our VIP ledge and headed down to the floor… The floor view was incredible- I have been describing it as feeling like we were just “across the street” from the performers! Diddy got the crowd going with his dj spinning a combo of current hits with some of his own.

Diddy-1

Diddy dancing

Diddy-2

Diddy rapping- "It's All About the Benjamins"! Woo!

Diddy-3

Diddy doing his Notorious B.I.G. tribute- the crowd goes WILD!

I was so excited when my Total Rewards ticket contest “winner” Sarah Polite found me in the crowd!

Me-and-Sarah-and-Diddy

Me, contest ticket winner, Sarah (AKA: @NYCFoodieFinder) and Diddy!

Mel B came out after Diddy finished to show us another clip of Sara Bareilles on the Chicago stage singing “Love Song” (love that song!)… after that we knew Mariah Carey was on the way!

Mariah-is-coming

Suddenly, Gotham Hall went dark and we knew Mariah was about the take the stage!

Mariah-wait

Mariah's back up singers walk out, cell phones go up!

Mariah-walks-out

Here she comes! (more cell phones)

Mariah-take-stage

With a fabulous, sparkling, diamond microphone in hand, Mariah strikes a pose

Mariah-strike-pose

Lights go up! Girrrrl, you still got it!

Her entrance was fabulous and she looked gorgeous in a black, one shoulder mermaid dress and her signature, shimmering butterfly ring. After the first couple of songs, she commented that she didn’t know “what the big deal was” about her return to stage after giving birth to “dem babies”. (It looked like a pretty big deal to me!) Her singing is so effortless yet her voice is so big it is incredible to see in person!

Mariah shake it off

A groovy new version of "Shake it Off"

Mariah-and-Trey

Mariah and backup singer, Trey Lorenz, do a sweet and beautiful version of "I'll be there" (yes, I got choked up)

Quick-hair-and-makeup-touch

A quick DIVA shoe change and hair and makeup touch up! (I was ready to change my shoes by then too!)

After “We Belong Together” the stage went dark but I knew she’d be back for an encore! I could not have been happier when that encore turned out to be “Hero”.

Me-crying-thru-Hero

Me crying through "Hero"!

The night could not have ended with a better vibe. The shows were a huge success and everyone had a fabulous time. (For some juicy details on the Chicago show- AKA: The I’m jealous cause Adam Levine was there show!- check out my foodie friend Susan’s blog at http://www.feedsusan.com/)

I was sorry to hear that KF and I missed the desserts that were served and the swag bags that were handed out in the Diamond Lounge, but for me, being able to experience the music that close was worth the sacrifice. (Besides, it’s not like they were serving milk and cookies! ;))

Please keep up with my posts about my Total Rewards adventure! Coming up in the next 2 months, the great chefs of Harrah and Caeser’s Entertainment will be sharing some of their favorite recipes with us! I’ll even be giving away the gorgeous coffee table cookbook “The Seven Stars Cookbook” which features recipes from their celebrity chefs as well as hosting and entertainment tips from some of the best hosts, hostesses, executive chefs, and bartenders in the biz!

It is with great thanks to you that I was offered this opportunity.  So thank you for following me here on “the Juice”, on Twitter and on Facebook (You do follow me on all 3, right? 🙂 Sweet! Spread the love)!

(((hugs)))&XXXXkisses! Xo Dani

*Next post up? A cookie inspired by Mariah! See you soon!*