In the wake of ‘Spirit Of Nevada’ with “you can call me Sam” as my local city guide
Las Vegas is world famous for the casinos, each one bigger than the other, but one casino has a piece of Belgian roots in its soul. Today is the start of my mini adventure with Samantha Chian, the tv host from Spirit Of Nevada, who shows me the other side of Old Sin City on National Pizza Day. She invites me to a small piece of Belgium and Long Island, New York, right here in Las Vegas!
The D hotel and casino in Downtown Las Vegas is the place to meet. With 34 floors and 638 hotel rooms, The D has been owned and operated by Belgian legends Derek and Greg Stevens since October 2011. They have reopened the estate after an unbelievably high end renovation of 22 million dollars.
Downtown Las Vegas brings a totally different vibe than the typical strip, and the artistic character is super cool. It is bustling with tourists nowadays. That’s a big change compared to a decade ago when it was a mess, and homeless people called Downtown home. It was an eyesore as we say here. Tony Hsieh, former founder and owner of Zappos, along with a huge investment and a top team, shouldered the Downtown Project. We can now, in 2019, wander around Old Town Vegas and enjoy tons of cool sights. We meet a huge number of artists and creative people doing their thing. Restaurants are popping up on daily basis, small cafes, movie theaters, and you name it. It has all found a home in Downtown. Tony Hsieh and the A to Z plan is a different story.
Today I meet with the coolest and cutest guide that the state of Nevada has to offer. Sam takes me on a ‘walk through town’ and invites me to make a traditional Grandma pizza at Vincent at @goodpielv. I’m looking forward to making a pizza that is not round but square, and on National Pizza Day. Love it! I learn something new today and the recipe will be added in my cookbook.
The statue of Manneken Pis radiates in all its glory here in Las Vegas, at the valet parking of The D. I meet with Samantha Chian for some pictures with our little man and tell her about the history that the boy brings back to the early 1600 ‘s. I often hear that Las Vegas and America in general does not really have that historical value in the timelines. Americans do not go back hundreds of of years when it comes to historical buildings or statues, but still, Las Vegas, young as the history is, has some serious roots. The Mafia influence of “let ’s do a deal here in a local restaurant” is a story from times gone by and casinos are now run by companies with CEOs and financial directors. For more info you should visit the @mobmuseum in Downtown Las Vegas, located at 300 Stewart Ave in Las Vegas.
Samantha is known for her famous series ‘Spirit Of Nevada’. Sam lives the dream of traveling with pretty fancy and fast cars with a top camera team that documents everything.
In her series, she takes us on a cool ride to the places that we do not know, places outside of Vegas. With the help of drone shots and some killer filming techniques, you can literally feel the vibe that she experiences while filming these episodes. Nevada has so much to offer and every episode gives us a different insight into cultural values and historical places.
If you ever consider traveling to Vegas, be sure to check out Spirit Of Nevada. You can not have a better guide on your side than Sam.
Despite being a relatively new project that started up in 2017, it is extremely popular and outgrew the original idea to become a worldwide well known platform for travelers. You might see Sam on large billboards in Las Vegas with her unique smile and her contagious enthusiasm like you’ve never seen before. Her vibe is blissful! She was on a Super Bowl Commercial last month as well.
Spirit Of Nevada can be watched via Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. Here is the link: www.spiritofnevada.org
Without the financial help of Richard Harris, a local successful lawyer, all of this is would not possible. Sam is grateful from the bottom of her heart. Not everyone has the luxury to make a top TV series on a weekly basis with all the tools you need to realize that.
Spirit Of Nevada can be watched via Facebook, Instagram and Youtube as well via @spiritofnevada and
Will there ever be a spirit of California or even Spirit Of America?
Who knows, the sky is the limit.
Vincent Good Pie Las Vegas
Vincent takes us to Long Island, back in the late 60s. The invasion of Italian immigrants are where his roots can be found. Americans had – and still have – their traditional neighborhoods with the grandmothers who obviously know everyone. Grandmas make weekly visits to butchers and local farms to find their fresh ingredients to make that traditional Italian pizza. But this Grandma pizza is different.
What amazes me is that in the late sixties the grandmothers bought their dough at local pizzerias and took it home in a plastic wrapper and simply roll it out. They made their own pizzas in square pans or tins like they call it. Old cookie tins. For the simple reason that they did not have round pizza pans back then. In advance, those square pizzas were prepared as a snack for the family and especially the kids. An entire generation of children have grown up with these square grandma pizzas.
Later in the early seventies in Long Island, they bought their own flour and made their own dough on the same tin plate. Because once again, that tin was the only tool they had available in the kitchen.
30-50 years ago you didn’t order pizza like we do today. Grandmas on the east coast made it on the fly.
Between 1979 and 1982, the first grandma pizza was sold commercially in a small pizzeria in Long Island and the tradition hasn’t stopped. Vincent took the idea with him and makes this traditional Grandma here at his restaurant in Downtown Las Vegas.
“The most important thing is to push out the air pockets,” he says, “with the tips of your fingers, like playing the piano like Billy Joel does. Make sure that the corners remain nicely and keep them thick. Don’t put cheese or anything on the corners, that is not done. Corners are corners.”
What grandmas taught us is to add garlic oil with a brush and smear the dough with that roasted garlic oil. That is the first step in building your own pizza, like layering flavors, one by one…
With the brush, you also push the air out of the dough. The second layer is pecorino romano cheese. Put a sufficient amount of cheese on top of the oil.
Then weigh every ingredient to make it perfectly balanced.
The grandma pizza is square instead of round.
Photo of my Grandma Van Zolder was put on Vincent’s wall. It makes me very proud to be able to see my 99 year old grandma there…
Car: Jeep Grand Cherokee 2018
Value car: $ 41,000 I bought it new
Hobbies: cooking obviously, but traveling to California and enjoy the beach, that’s a big deal for me. The ocean calms me down, it gives me peace. I can think about nothing else there. Forget about anything in my life.If I ever become a millionaire then I would buy the smallest beachfront property I can find, just enough to put my lazy chair down to have a drink and enjoy the moment of my moment. That is all I need, or want. Yeah, that’s my dream.
Family: I have a 5 year old baby girl named Ivy
Boyfriend: No boyfriend as of today
Pets: I had two turtles named Elvis and Earl but they are both in animal heaven now.
Favorite meal: I love Peruvian food and my all time favorite dish is Pollo Saltado (Chicken Stir Fry)
Red or white wine: Neither, I drink Titus Vodka!
Favorite song: Hotel California by The Eagles, my favorite song of all times
Quote: A wise girl knows her limits, a smart girl knows she has none – Marilyn Monroe
Goal to achieve: I think it is to inspire people to follow their dreams no matter what life throws at them. I have been through a lot, my daughter is in need of my help at all times. I would give my life to help and change lives by giving back to the community as an example. I do that on a daily basis. My ultimate goal is to be a movie producer.
– David Purdy (outdoor photos Samantha)
– Kate Grace
– Luc Cops (Oma Van Zolder)
Translation by Cassie Haley