Calling All Chefs: Top Chef Season 12 Auditions in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles + NYC

TCNOLA Calling All Chefs: Top Chef Season 12 Auditions in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles + NYCSeason 11 of Top Chef just wrapped (Congrats, Nicholas Elmi!), but we’re already looking forward to the next mouthwatering competition. If you’ve always aspired to compete on the show that has helped usher in the next generation of America’s best chefs, come on down! Casting calls for season 12 of Top Chef are being held in cities across the U.S. This is the ideal opportunity to get in front of the folks who have had a hand in furthering the cooking careers of dozens of Top Chef winners and cheftestants.

Auditions begin TODAY in Atlanta and Dallas and head to other cities in the coming weeks. The current schedule is:

* ATLANTA: February 18 10AM-1PM, at The Spence, 75 Fifth Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia.

* CHICAGO: February 24, 10AM-1PM, at Spiaggia, 980 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.

* DALLAS: February 18, 10AM-1PM, at Hotel Palomar Dallas, 5300 East Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, Texas.

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Dining Happily Ever After: Meet Pat and David

winner4 Dining Happily Ever After: Meet Pat and DavidOMG! It’s Valentine’s Day! To celebrate, here’s another Romantic Dining Stories Giveaway winner who has been dining out with her husband for 50+ happy years.

Name: Patricia H.

Romantic Dining Partner: David H.

Married: February 22, 1958.

Hometown: Coppell, Texas.

Half a century of surprises: “My husband of almost 56 years, has surprised me so many times it would be difficult to pick just one. When we were first married, he would fly me from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery for dinner with friends.”

What do you enjoy most about dining out with your husband? “We have always enjoyed eating out.  When we were dating, we would pool our money to dine out. Now, it tastes better when I don’t have to cook it.  That has just happened.  I remember my mom saying she didn’t like what she cooked as she got older.”

Do you have a favorite restaurant? Continue reading…

A Romantic Surprise: Meet Sharyn + Dan

 A Romantic Surprise: Meet Sharyn + DanValentine’s Day is tomorrow! Here’s another Romantic Dining Stories Giveaway winner with her tale of how her husband surprised her with a well-planned dinner, even securing some very qualified sitters for their kids. 

Name: Sharyn L.

Romantic Dining Partner: Husband Dan.

Married: 1997.

Hometown: Winter Garden, Florida.

The fake out: “My husband is usually somewhat unromantic, so I never expect that much on Valentine’s Day. Last year, however, I came home from work to find my parents in our house, already feeding the kids dinner. My husband pops out of our bedroom, all dressed up, and tells me to hurry up and get dressed because our reservations are for 6:30pm! We had a wonderful time at a very nice restaurant, and I didn’t have to worry about the kids at all. It was awesome!”

What restaurant did you go to? Continue reading…

A Slice to Remember: Meet Romantic Diners Michelle + Tom

Winners 2 A Slice to Remember: Meet Romantic Diners Michelle + TomWe’ve got Valentine’s Day on our brain! Here’s another Romantic Dining Stories Giveaway winner with her tale of how her beau stole her heart with a visit to a legendary pizzeria. 

Name: Michelle S.

Romantic dining partner: Husband Tom.

Married: August 1994.

Hometown: Huntington, New York.

Oh, what a slice: “After many years attending graduate school at NYU Stern School of Business part time, I was finally graduating. When I asked my boyfriend Tom (now my husband) how he would like to celebrate, he told me to leave it up to him. So, for weeks, I ruminated on which great NYC restaurant he would take me to. Would it be Bouley, One if By Land Two if By Sea, or La Grenouille — or maybe some new restaurant that we had never been to? As the day approached, I donned my best white dress and attended graduation ceremonies. He would still not tell me where we were headed, and as we began to walk,  he said that it wasn’t a long walk. All he would tell me was that it was a Greenwich Village institution, and since was I was part-time student (working the other half) and had not had the chance to really experience the area, he thought to make up for it. When we stopped in front of a pizza parlor named John’s, I was very taken aback and immediately disappointed. However, after he explained the significance of the restaurant, I began to calm down. And, after I had my first bite of the most wonderful pizza in the world, it will be a memory I will always treasure!”

Do you still consider pizza a romantical food? Continue reading…

Aren’t They Romantic? Meet Diners Megan + Drew

winners1 Arent They Romantic? Meet Diners Megan + DrewToday, we notified the winners of our Valentine’s Day Romantic Dining Stories Giveaway. They were selected at random, but every entrant had a touching tale to tell. First up, Megan (and Drew, too!).

Name: Megan K.

Romantic dining partner: Fiancé Drew.

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois, by way of Lincoln, Nebraska.

Fun fact: They’re getting married on March 15, 2014.

A night to remember: “Having dated my then-boyfriend (now fiancé) for six years, the element of surprise dates and gifts were long behind us after living together for a few years. On a random, chilly late winter weekend, my boyfriend told me to pack an overnight bag with a nice change of clothes for a weekend get away. We took the el from the Addison redline down to Chicago where he had me walk blocks out of my way to arrive at the Drake Hotel. We changed and caught a cab, and he instructed the driver to drop us off at Dearborn and Ontario. We walked into the Melting Pot and had a wonderfully romantic dinner over fondue. This started the beginning of our restaurant exploration and seeking out new and exciting restaurants together.”

Melted cheese seems to melt hearts. Are you big fans of fondue?  Continue reading…

Trending on OpenTable Restaurant Reviews: Marriage Proposals

ring Trending on OpenTable Restaurant Reviews: Marriage ProposalsWith Valentine’s Day fast approaching, love is in the air. A 2013 survey by American Express revealed that 6 million people were planning or anticipating a marriage proposal on Valentine’s Day, and we imagine that number will be similar for 2014. Since it is one of the most popular dining holidays, we’re betting there will be a lot of folks popping the question in restaurants this weekend. Find out how the hospitality professionals at restaurants throughout the OpenTable network have helped diners ask for their beloved’s hand in marriage in the last few weeks in these recent OpenTable restaurant reviews. And, if you’ve gotten engaged at a restaurant, share your story in our comments section, on Facebook, or Google+

Astor Court, Atlanta, Georgia: ”The staff at Astor Court could not have been more helpful in assisting in my proposal. They were friendly and accommodating, even adding some of their own suggestions to make the surprise more romantic. I went during a weekday, so it was not too busy which was perfect for us. The food was excellent as well, capping off a good night!”

Due Amici, Columbus, Ohio: ”The food and service were fantastic. I surprised my girlfriend with a proposal and ring, and the Due Amici staff helped to make it a big surprise. She couldn’t help but say yes.”

* Geneva Chophouse, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: “I’ve been there a half dozen times on my own. This last time, I took my girlfriend and proposed. I called ahead and left a message asking for a table with a view to propose. The whole staff knew and they were excited and accommodating. I was very nervous throughout dinner, and the manager came over and asked us how our meal was and she put her hand on my shoulder and calmed me down! It was beautiful — the view, the restaurant, and the proposal! I am forever grateful to all of the staff that evening.”

Gracie’s, Providence, Rhode Island: ”Many thanks to the staff of Gracie’s, who always go above and beyond, but particularly this night when everyone (but my then-girlfriend) knew that it was a big night for us – proposal night. I had made arrangements with staff beforehand, and everything was set and ready for our arrival. Throughout the night, we were congratulated by staff and patrons alike, and the staff were quite cognizant of the fact that my fiancée was making calls to her family and friends and gave us our space. I don’t think we ordered until an hour after we sat down!”

Havana Central, Garden City, New York: ”I called after I made my reservation and spoke to William, the manager. I told him that my then-boyfriend’s birthday was on January 20th, and I wanted to propose to him. William and my waiter, Zane, as well as the other staff were WONDERFUL!!! Everything was planned out the way I pictured it and my fiancé said YES!!!!! Everyone at Havana Central did a great job, and I can’t wait to set up my Valentines day function there with my friends!!!”

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Pay Your Check with OpenTable Mobile: Pilot Payment Program Launches in San Francisco

OT Mobile Payments iPhone Shot 2.6.2014 Pay Your Check with OpenTable Mobile: Pilot Payment Program Launches in San Francisco

First, OpenTable made it simple to book a restaurant reservation at any time of day or night with just a few clicks. Now, we’re pleased to announce that it will soon be just as easy to pay for your meal. Rather than waiting for a check or, worse yet, being late for the theater, with the new OpenTable payments feature, you will be able to tap to pay – and be on your way.

OpenTable mobile payments are currently being tested by diners at select restaurants in San Francisco. Over the next few weeks, we will be adding more diners to the test program and will provide you a way to request access. If you receive an email invitation to be part of our pilot program, you can get started by making a reservation at a participating restaurant. Simply add a credit card in the OpenTable iPhone app before your meal and you’ll be able to view and pay your check. There’s no scanning or bar codes involved.

If you’re participating in the pilot program, you will receive an email requesting feedback about the app and your experiences with it. For those of you who are particularly passionate about the app, the experience, or mobile technology in general, we’ll also be offering the option to join us for in-person Q+A discussions at our headquarters in San Francisco.

We thank you for your participation as we bring our payments feature one step closer to a broader launch. Your honesty and insights are not just vital to its refinement – they are greatly appreciated.

Kashyap Deorah is General Manager, Payments at OpenTable

OpenTable Reveals the Top 25 Most Romantic Cities in America

San Antonio OpenTable Reveals the Top 25 Most Romantic Cities in America
San Antonio, Texas, tops the list of most romantic cities for the second year in a row.

As we anticipate the romance of Valentine’s Day, we are pleased to release its rankings of the Top 25 Most Romantic Cities in America.

While our nation is known for its diverse food culture, our analysis revealed that romance is a popular dining trend in cities across America.  In order to provide a ranking of cities where romantic dining is inherently part of the culture, the OpenTable Most Romantic Cities Index was calculated using three variables: the percentage of restaurants rated “romantic” according to OpenTable diner reviews; the percentage of tables seated for two; and the percentage of people who dined out for Valentine’s Day last year.

The following cities, listed in order, comprise the Top 25 Most Romantic Cities in America. The complete list may also be viewed here.

Top 25 Most Romantic Dining Cities in America

1. San Antonio, Texas

2. St. Louis, Missouri

3. Providence, Rhode Island

4. Atlantic City, New Jersey

5. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

6. Salt Lake City, Utah

7. Columbus, Ohio

8. Houston, Texas

9. Brooklyn, New York

10. Louisville, Kentucky

11. Austin, Texas

Continue reading…

Enter the Romantic Dining Stories Giveaway: Share Your Tale of Romance + Restaurants for a Chance to Win 1 of 5 $200 OpenTable Gifts

giveaway val day Enter the Romantic Dining Stories Giveaway: Share Your Tale of Romance + Restaurants for a Chance to Win 1 of 5 $200 OpenTable GiftsHave you ever been swept off your feet by your sweetie in a restaurant? Been surprised with an over-the-top romantic restaurant outing? Has your dining partner gotten down on bended knee to pop a very important question? Enter the OpenTable Romantic Dining Stories Giveaway!

With Valentine’s Day less than two weeks away, we want to spread the love with a giveaway we think you’ll love. Share a romantic dining story in the comments of this post, and you’ll be entered to win  one of five $200 OpenTable Gifts*, redeemable at a participating OpenTable Gifts restaurant. And, next week, we’ll publish several winning stories of romance and restaurants on our blog.

The entry period runs through Friday, February 7, 2014. Winners will be announced Monday, February 10, 2014, and will be notified via the email address associated with your comment below (so please be sure to check it!). Complete terms and conditions after the jump.

We look forward to swooning over your stories!  Continue reading…

Dining Poll: Are You a Fan or Foe of Mayo?

According to an article in TODAY, research firm Euromonitor has revealed that mayonnaise is the top condiment in the U.S., handily besting ketchup. I’m a fan of both, but Duke’s mayonnaise is absolutely my most coveted condiment. As united as we seem to be in our love of mayo in the United States, however, a lot of folks cannot abide the creamy marriage of eggs and oil, even tho’ many chefs are pro mayo. Where do you stand in this condiment conundrum? Weigh in on the issue in our dining poll below.