Hey, Mike! What’s That? (Fine Arts Edition)

May 24th, 2007  |  Published in etc  |  1 Comment

Glad you asked!

Unlike last time, I can tell you exactly what that is: It’s a knight in shining armor, mounted on a horse, and it’s made completely of LARD. Don’t take my word for it. I asked at the cash register station outside the Excalibur’s buffet and was handed a small pamphlet:

The magnificent knight atop his trusty steed that adorns the entrance to the premier Roundtable Buffet is the work of world-renowned Hungarian sculptor György Tamas, who created it for the opening of the Excalibur Hotel and Casino in 1990.

When first commissioned, Tamas was instructed to sculpt the knight out of native Nevada limestone, but the sculptor, who had fled to the United States seeking freedom in 1956, instead proposed a sculpture inspired by the Contextual Materials movement he helped found in the late 1960s. Instead of using limestone, Tamas argued, a more fitting monument to the excellence of the soon-to-be-opened Roundtable Buffet would be a knight and trusty steed crafted out of the very foundation of the buffet’s cuisine: dry-rendered lard made from Nevada-raised pigs.

Excalibur project manager Dick Flint was at first resistant to the radical departure, but soon relented, even delaying the opening of the buffet so Tamas could work with food engineers to perfect the sealant he would apply to the lard sculpture to immortalize it for all time.

Working around the clock for two days, Tamas used almost a ton of dry-rendered Nevada pig lard to craft his creation, working in brutal, below-freezing conditions to ensure it maintained its shape until the special polymer sealant University of Nevada, Las Vegas food scientists formulated could be applied.

On June 19, 1990, a beaming Tamas shook hands with Dick Flint and unveiled his sculpture before helping to cut the ceremonial ribbon that allowed eager Excalibur Hotel and Casino guests to sample the best in buffet dining Las Vegas has to offer. As on its first day of operation and every day since, the Roundtable Buffet has commemorated the artistic devotion of György Tamas by offering a pot of Las Vegas-style Hungarian Goulash in the first heat well guests pass.

A second knight and steed, visually identical to the first, are on display at the second Roundtable Buffet food line. Unlike the first, they’re crafted out of fiberglass and only covered with a thin patina of lard and sealant.

And there you have it.

You can kind of tell the difference between the two statues now. The lard one has begun to shift a little despite the sealant, so its lines aren’t as sharp.


  1. pk says:

    May 25th, 2007 at 12:24 pm (#)


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