Las Vegas Tastemakers Take the Lead for Life is Beautiful

Former head of culinary, Jolene Mannina returns to the festival with an intimate dining experience

August 28, 2019
Life Is Beautiful Food

See the full lineup and buy tickets for Life is Beautiful 2019.

With more than 80 chefs and mixologists from Las Vegas and beyond, Life is Beautiful’s 2019 culinary lineup is its most appetizing yet. Among the highlights are community curated pop-ups, like Cocktail School, an interactive mixology series organized by Lyle Cervenka and Bryant Jane of Starboard Tack and Farm Stand, a new farm-to-table vegan dining activation assembled by Diana Edelman of Vegans, Baby.

The most exclusive offering, however, isn’t in the VIP section. Omakase Cantina will feature two different chefs each night serving multi-course meals to a very limited number of guests, with tickets sold separately via The menu will change each night.

The experience is the brainchild of Jolene Mannina, a veteran of Las Vegas’ food and beverage industry and longtime booster of the dining community. Mannina is no stranger to Life is Beautiful. She launched the culinary program at the festival back in 2013, overseeing everything from the vendors and VIP programs to the community events, such as the now-defunct Grills and Guitars dinner and concert.

When tasked with creating a culinary program for the first Life is Beautiful, Mannina didn’t have any other music festivals to look at for examples. “We were one of the very first music festivals to have a really large culinary program,” she tells Entercom. “It was one of a kind.”

Her goal was simple: to showcase a high quality experience. That came in the form of world-renowned chefs, such as Rick Moonen and Hubert Keller, who held cooking demonstrations and made appearances at their respective restaurant booths. “It was a pretty massive undertaking for the first year,” Mannina reflects.

Mannina left her position as the head of culinary programming after the first year, but returned twice as a vendor with Urban Seed, which supplied chefs with local produce. She’s also come back each year as a fan. “It’s my backyard,” she says. “From a culinary standpoint, I’m excited to be back.”

For Mannina’s Omakase Cantina, tickets will be sold through her company, Secret Burger, which organizes pop-up events and lets users reserve off-the-menu items at various restaurants throughout Las Vegas and major cities across the country. Like other Secret Burger events, Omakase Cantina is exclusive. Only three seatings for up to 12 guests will be available each night. The experience will be like dining at the chef’s table. Participating chefs include Roy Ellamar of Harvest and Jennifer Murphy of Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen on Sept. 20, Justin Kingsley Hall of Main St. Provisions and Gary LaMorte of Honest Hospitality on Sept. 21, and Josh Smith of Bardot Brasserie and Marc Marrone of Graffiti Bao on Sept. 22.

“It’s really a personal experience,” Mannina says.

Purchase tickets to The Omakase Cantina at

See Life is Beautiful’s complete culinary lineup at

Life Is Beautiful Food Poster