‘The Next Iron Chef’ Episode 2: Marc Forgione on Bleeders, Breakfast, and Burgers

Chef Marc Forgione is back, surviving a second week, and discussing his big W this past Sunday night on the latest episode of “The Next Iron Chef.”

Marc Forgione Episode 2 Iron Chef The Next Iron Chef Episode 2: Marc Forgione on Bleeders, Breakfast, and Burgers
In his journal, Chef Forgione maps out how he'll innovate his assignment of chicken pot pie: "I knew there was never going to be a crust, more like a brown-butter-biscuit crumble."

You have to cook with doughnuts at the start of this episode. Do you have a favorite kind?

I lived above the Donut Pub on West 14th street and, call me old school, but I used to love their old fashioned donut to dunk in my coffee. There is also a place in the Lower East Side called the Doughnut Plant and they do a crème brulée doughnut — really cool.

Doughnut mania has sort of supplanted cupcake mania. What do you think of these food ‘crazes’ in general?

I think people get a little caught up in crazes, but I don’t really pay attention to most of the hype. I think crazes are amusing, overall. The burger is a perfect example of a craze that has taken over the restaurant scene. Today, it seems that every fine-dining restaurant has to have a burger. At my restaurant, we added  “The Burger”, which we serve at the bar for $24. It is extremely popular — a  28-day, dry-aged Creekstone Farm prime strip steak, with caramelized onions and bacon, arugula, and tomatoes on a homemade potato roll. It’s served with wedge yukon fries and housemade pickles.

Sounds sublime! You’re cooking in a tight space in this initial breakfast challenge — but is it all that different than many Manhattan kitchens?

The set at kitchen stadium is five times bigger than the station that I have at my restaurant. My kitchen is the size of an SUV!

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Parting Shot: ‘Just Desserts’ Chef Malika Ameen Talks Cake, Control, and Cookies

Malika1 Parting Shot: Just Desserts Chef Malika Ameen Talks Cake, Control, and Cookies
Malika Ameen's voluntary exit from Top Chef was a surprise to viewers.

On last week’s episode of Top Chef Just Desserts, Malika Ameen gracefully bowed out of the competition, leaving viewers’ mouths agape and leaving some of her fellow cheftestants counting their lucky stars. She shared some thoughts on her decision to leave and the experience as a whole.

Malika, many viewers, such as I, are sad you left. Can you talk a bit more about your choice to exit?

My choice to exit was a decision that took some time as I worked through challenges — and one that I really felt very good about once I knew that it was the right decision for me. It was difficult to actually do it at the judges’ table, but that was the exact moment where I felt it was the right timing with the circumstances around the challenge. It was never preconceived, so I must admit I was really nervous, but I just said what I truly felt and believed strongly in.

The competition ate away immediately at a lot of people, in a way we’ve not even seen on the savory Top Chef competition. Why do you think so many people wigged out or wanted to walk out? What aren’t we seeing?

I don’t feel that people wanted to walk out in the competition as much as the media has stressed it. Pastry chefs are wired very differently from savory chefs. We are used to very controlled environments, working with our recipes, and managing our time by working our desserts in stages. I think we also tend to be more emotional by nature, but that doesn’t mean we are not tough! I think we are just more comfortable with expressing ourselves on an emotional level because our egos are not as big as savory chefs!!!

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Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 4: Sell Crazy Someplace Else…

TCJD 4 LD Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 4: Sell Crazy Someplace Else...
These lovely performers are among the least crazy people to appear in this episode.

We’re all stocked up. Literally. I mean, I have to say, that I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy TCJD as much as its savory predecessor, but this sweet show is really rich with drama. And every crazy thing that I thought would happen this episode, actually didn’t, but even crazier things did! To hold our collective hand and explain the more complicated points of pastry, once again, is Le Bernardin Executive Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis.

First, congratulations on Le Bernardin’s three Michelin stars! What does this level of achievement and recognition mean to you and your staff?

Thanks, Caroline! It’s an honor and a great return for all of our hard work, but we always remind ourselves that, at the end of the day, it’s all about our love of cooking and feeding others. No matter what level we push for, it’s that passion that sustains the day-to-day.

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The Michelin Stars Are Out in NYC: Eric Ripert Reflects on His ‘Threepeat’

Chef Eric Ripert on His Michelin Stars The Michelin Stars Are Out in NYC: Eric Ripert Reflects on His Threepeat
Chef Eric Ripert's Le Bernardin has received three Michelin stars for six straight years (That's 18, in case you're counting!).

Today the honorees of The Michelin Guide New York City Restaurants 2011 have been named, and Le Bernardin, for the sixth year in a row, has been awarded three stars.

Executive chef-owner Eric Ripert says of being recognized, consecutively, with three stars, “Every day when I come to work, I think about making Le Bernardin a great place with our team and never think about the rewards first. I believe the consequences of thinking like that can result in great rewards later on.” Indeed. Of the impact of being recognized by such an esteemed guide, Ripert, whose PBS show “Avec Eric” will begin its second season, states, “It is of course a great honor for the team and myself, that we don’t take for granted. It also helps the restaurant to be recognized and busy for the entire year. The Michelin Guide has an economic impact and, therefore, allows us to have a big, well-trained team and to buy high-quality products.”

When asked if he and his staff ever feel anxious about maintaining the level of excellence they’ve attained at Le Bernardin, he shares, “We do not work for the reward but by passion. And, we have evolved with time. We are always inspired and always thinking how we can create a special experience for our guests. New York City being a very competitive city is a blessing in disguise, and we reinvent ourselves all the time — sometimes without even knowing it. But, when we look back a few years ago, we realize that Le Bernardin was a similar but very different place. We strive for perfection, but the most important thing is actually the quest.”

While, once again, only four other restaurants — DanielJean Georges, Masa, and Per Se — received the coveted three-star rating, Ripert would welcome others atop the list. “I’m always very happy to see chefs and restaurateurs being highly rewarded, many of them are friends. The more 3-stars we see the better it is ultimately for our industry,” says this most gracious chef.

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We’re Going to Make You an Offer You Can’t Refuse. A Spotlight Offer, That Is!

The Godfather Were Going to Make You an Offer You Cant Refuse. A Spotlight Offer, That Is!
Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

OpenTable is pleased to bring you another week of savings in cities around the U.S. The Spotlight is set to shine strong in nine cities this week: AtlantaBostonChicago, DenverLos AngelesNew YorkPhiladelphiaSan Francisco, and Washington, D.C. The names of the participating restaurants won’t be revealed until Tuesday evening, but, as always, if you can’t wait, get a clue or two below, and make your best guesses on our Spotlight message boards, over on Facebook, or on Twitter.

trans Were Going to Make You an Offer You Cant Refuse. A Spotlight Offer, That Is!Atlanta: This elegant midtown restaurant is a celebration of local Southern cuisine with a sophisticated contemporary twist. Its namesake is celebrated with an annual festival to herald in spring.

Boston: The name of this restaurant has several derivations – some say it was named after a queen of the Amazons; others after the father of Theseus, king of Athens. It is located just 20 miles west of downtown Boston.

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‘The Next Iron Chef’ Episode 1: Chef Marc Forgione Talks Sammies and Slides

TNIC Episode 1 The Next Iron Chef Episode 1: Chef Marc Forgione Talks Sammies and Slides
Alton confesses that he wouldn't have worn a hat if his hair were as cool as Marc's.

Move over, Mad Men. Sunday nights have even more must-see TV for foodies, thanks to the premiere of season 3 of The Next Iron Chef. Competitor Marc Forgione has signed on to help shepherd OpenTable diners through every episode this season, win, lose, or draw (and we’re going to hold you to that, Chef!). We’ll find out what’s behind Chef Forgione’s thinking as he takes on the world’s best chefs, as well as get a look behind the scenes of this exciting, high-stakes competition.

Thanks for joining us, Chef Forgione!  NYC has become the city of the sammie. And, you had to make one straight out of the gate. Do you have any fave sandwiches in NYC that you eat when you’re not at your restaurant?

The Banh Mi from The Saigon Bakery on Grand Street.

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Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 3: Half-Baked Sale

TCJD Ep 3 Michael Laiskonis Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 3: Half Baked Sale
Chef Michael Laiskonis admits he was nervous about baking a cake for the great Sylvia Weinstock.

The situation on TCJD gets stickier and stickier every week, due to the increasing pressure and clashing personalities of the pastry pros. Thankfully, renowned pastry chef Michael Laiskonis is back to help us navigate what went right and wrong with everything from this week’s wedding cakes to one cheftestant’s dry cupcakes.

My first question tonight is not entirely related to TCJD, BUT I just saw Kings of Pastry and — WOW! Seeing this competition certainly puts TCJD into perspective (insofar as it has NOTHING on the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France). Did you see the film?

I did, of course, get a chance to see the inspiring Kings of Pastry documentary and I’d like to think its theme of intensity, discipline, and quest for perfection is something that will resonate beyond an audience of just pastry chefs. Being awarded the MOF (literally translated, “Best Craftsman of France”) represents the sum total of a candidate’s life work and training, so it is serious business. The judging is ridiculously technical, but it’s a jury of peers — a panel of previous winners — so there is a deep sense of community and support there as well. Sadly, it’s the very spirit of camaraderie that unravels by the end of this week’s episode of TCJD. Whatever the venue, the best competitions manage to reveal the true test — how each individual overcomes his or her own self-imposed obstacles.

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OpenTable Spotlight Offers Hit a Rocky Mountain High in Denver, Starting Tonight!

OT Secret Spotlight Chicago OpenTable Spotlight Offers Hit a Rocky Mountain High in Denver, Starting Tonight!
Can you guess which Chicago restaurant serves up this delicious dish?

Dining out in Denver just got even better, thanks to the launch of OpenTable Spotlight offers in The Mile High City this week. Take advantage of half-off dining with $50 for $25 at popular restaurants in Denver. The name of this week’s featured restaurant will be revealed at 8PM EDT and the offer, along with others in AtlantaBostonChicagoLos AngelesNew York, PhiladelphiaSan Francisco, and Washington, D.C., will launch at 12AM tonight!

If you can’t wait until this evening, try to guess the restaurants in each city with these fun clues on the Spotlight message boards, over on Facebook, or on Twitter.

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50 Foodie Favorites: Congratulations to the OpenTable Diners’ Choice Winners

Fit for Foodies 50 Foodie Favorites: Congratulations to the OpenTable Diners Choice WinnersBecause we’re a nation — and a company — of foodies, we’re thrilled to announce the winners of OpenTable’s second annual Diners’ Choice awards for the restaurants most fit for foodies.

While this year’s list features 22 restaurants that earned the Fit for Foodies distinction in 2009, it also recognizes 28 new ones at which to enjoy outstanding cuisine.  The list of winners is derived from more than 7 million reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for more than 12,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Honorees include Abbatoir, Blackbird, Cochon, FIG, Primo, Saffron, and Tilth along with many others. Find out if your favorite foodie destination made the list, and share your thoughts on the winners here or over on Facebook.