Marleen Carol Marino



Frank Marino

Déjà vu All Over Again PLUS a Bonus



During the early 1980s the Las Vegas Hilton was my stomping grounds and Benihanas was my restaurant of choice. The Hilton Poker room was THE place to play poker, and this was a time when card rooms were stuck in the back of the casinos, like step-children, and not many people outside of Vegas and Texas even knew about the World Series of Poker. But I digress; let’s talk about one of my favorite restaurants of all times, Benihana. Over the years I have dined at more Benihanas across this country than any other restaurant, period. How fun is it to see those fabulous chefs put on a great show which makes your dining experience even more enjoyable. But, the BEST hibachi chef/showman that I have EVER seen was an humorously, engaging and talented chef right here at the Las Vegas Hilton's Benihana, Toy Tomme. I would dine at Benihana at least once a week in those days, and every time I would always request Toy as our chef. Toy would ALWAYS make sure we had a great time while enjoying Benihanas fabulous Japanese cuisine.


Well… I had the pleasure of dining at Benihana this week, and guess what, Toy is still there, but he’s climbed the corporate ladder (during his 33 years at Benihanas) and is now the Executive Chef. It was wonderful seeing my old friend again, and great to taste the traditional fare that made Benihana's reputation what it is today. The only thing that changed, is that it has even gotten better! And speaking of getting better, Toy really OUT DID himself. Our table was enthralled by his mastery. We sat with five lovely and fun-loving gals from Orange county California, who were there celebrating a birthday.




From Left to right: Barbie, Allison, Corrine, Sherry (the Birthday girl) and Lea



As you see in these pictures, the only thing that has changed over the years was me getting older, Toy hasn't aged a bit.




I cannot recommend this wonderful dining venue with more enthusiasm! For a FANTASTIC culinary and entertaining experience visit or revisit Benihana at the Las Vegas Hilton, and by all means... ask for Toy!

Marleen Marino


The Bonus - Terry Fator


The good news, Terry Fator was incredible…………… the better news, Terry Fator will only get better as he polishes his act while he prepares for his February 2009 opening in his own showroom at the Mirage.


I mean, how many guys go from county fair sideshows to an appearance on a TV amateur talent show (although it was America’s Got Talent and he was the 2007 winner,) to a $100 million contract at one of the top spots on the Las Vegas Strip.


I go back to the Edgar Bergan - Charlie McCarthy & Mortimer Snerd and Paul Winchell - Jerry Mahoney days, so believe me when I tell you; Terry Fator is THE most talented ventriloquist ever. Like I told him in the post-show photo-op. “In case your dummies go on strike, you can make it as an impersonator”, for not only is Terry a first class ventriloquist but also a top impressionist.


Terry had the packed house at the Hilton in stitches (where he will perform 3 nights one week per month thru the end of the year,) in the show he and several of his puppets performed different routines during the “ended to soon” hour and a half show. His funny bits with his cloth and wood friends were sometimes cute, sometime outrageous but always funny, among his cast that night were Winston the turtle, Emma Taylor, Cowboy Walter T. Airdale and several others, Terry also performed a solo for the ladies in the voice of James Blunt singing “Beautiful.” WOW!




One segment my wife, (fellow critic and VCO publisher, Marleen) enjoyed was when Terry had a male member of the audience join him on stage for an impromptu song of “I Got You Babe” by Sonny & Cher. First, they (Terry’s gorgeous assistant & himself) put a mask on this unsuspecting fellow (that Terry could operate like a dummy,) then had him don a Cher outfit including a wig and proceeded to sing both parts of the song…... OUTSTANDING!


In the audience that evening was the Legendary Impressionist and VCO Insider Rich Little, who during the backstage photo op suggested to Terry he'd make a cute dummy (see photo below,) well done Rich.



Catch Terry and his “friends” at the Hilton and you will appreciate his metric rise to fame!


Terry Fator is a must see for every one of all ages……


Frank and Marleen Marino are true fans!


Frank Marino


Some of Terry's photo credits go to Richard Faverty.

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