Reviews and previews of restaurants on the OpenTable network…
We are pleased to announce that OpenTable for Nokia is now available on Ovi Store by Nokia, allowing diners to reserve tables instantly and for free at thousands of restaurants in the UK, US, Canada, and Mexico. Key features include the ability to:
* Find restaurants around your current location with availability and book on the spot
* Refine search results by cuisine, price and points
* Read fresh and relevant reviews by recent OpenTable diners
* Manage upcoming reservations
* Send SMS messages with reservation details to the rest of your dinner party
OpenTable for Nokia is available for Symbian S60 5.0 touch device users residing in the UK, US, Canada and Mexico. Users of non-touch Nokia devices such as the Nokia E72 will be able to download the app in the coming weeks.
Chefs in the news…
* Chefs of the future may not even have — gasp! — restaurants. I’m not sure that’s a world I’m ready for. [Eater]
* Tom Colicchio (Craftbar), David Chang, Wylie Dufresne (wd-50), and Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin) walk into a bar…. Well, not really. They actually walked onto the set of HBO’s Big Easy-themed show Treme. [Eater New York]
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to open a restaurant in Manhattan? How about two — at once? Wonder no more. Eater reports that a new documentary about Danny Meyer, one of New York’s most esteemed and successful restaurateurs, is about to hit the big screen. Thanks to The Restaurateur, for the first time, you can see what it took to bring Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park and the stylish Tabla to life — at the very same time. The film follows Meyer, who serves on the Board of Directors for OpenTable, and the evolution Eleven Madison Park, from its brasserie origins to its current four-star status, which was a result of the arrival of chef Daniel Humm.
In addition to Meyer, whose Union Square Hospitality Group includes Blue Smoke, Gramercy Tavern, Maialino, The Modern, Union Square Cafe, and others, a pre-”Top Chef” Tom Colicchio (Craft) also appears in the film.
Have you eaten at a Union Square Hospitality Group restaurant? Which one is your favorite? Share your opinion here or over on Facebook.
Find out if the diner is ALWAYS right, and let us know what you think about folks who make multiple special requests relating to ingredients. Should someone who is allergic to dairy and gluten expect to be accommodated at a pizza place? Should chefs be ready to prepare raw foods on a moment’s notice? Weigh in here or over on Facebook.
This week in dining trends…
* A reader asks San Francisco Chronicle restaurant reviewer Michael Bauer talk about what “fine dining” means — leading him to wonder if it means anything anymore. [SF Gate]
* The stroller set has plenty of eating options in the Big Apple, as high-end restaurants embrace little foodies. [The New York Times]
* Speaking of kids, child and parenting behavior expert Priscilla J. Dunstan has her own tips for taking the little ones out to dinner. [KansasCity.com]
* The size of your server is directly related to the size of your order. [Slashfood]
* Your server’s tableside manner is directly related to your enjoyment of your order. [Seattle Times]
It may be hard to picture some of today’s most influential chefs in tiny toques, but they, too, were small children at one time, with big appetites and big dreams, both of which were likely fed by their mothers. This week, OpenTable checked in with four famous chefs to find out exactly how their mothers have influenced their careers, their kitchens, and even their menus. Our series concludes with the gifted Michael Mina, whose restaurants include the eponymous and Michelin-starred MICHAEL MINA as well as RN74 in San Francisco.
Born in Cairo and raised in Ellensburg, Washington, chef Michael Mina’s mother helped shape his palate early in his life. Says Mina, 42, “My mom is a fantastic cook of traditional Middle Eastern cuisine, and a couple of the recipes I use in my restaurants are hers, from my childhood meals at home.”
Of these very personal dishes diners can delight in, Mina, reveals, “A few of my mom’s recipes that I incorporate into some of my restaurants include the falafel recipe for my falafel burger, which has been on the Bourbon Steak bar burger menus for more than a year, as well as a traditional Middle Eastern dish of chickpeas, lentils, rice, peppers and onions, called kusheri, which has been served at my Seablue restaurants for many years.”
He continues, “Both of these dishes she made for me, and our family, when I was young. I loved them so much and am so pleased to be able to use them today in my restaurants. It really is to honor her.”
Jose Garces wasn’t born an “Iron Chef” but this top competitor, James Beard award-winning chef, and master of Latin cuisine’s culinary ambitions took shape from an early age. An American chef born to Ecuadorian parents and raised in Chicago, Chef Garces began his culinary training in the kitchen of his paternal grandmother and mother.
The winner of “The Next Iron Chef,” Chef Garces, whose Philadelphia restaurants include Amada, Distrito, and Tinto, notes, “My introduction to food came in our family kitchen, growing up in Chicago. My mother was always an amazing cook, and she loved to involve us in preparing meals. That was doubly true when her mother-in-law, my Mamita Amada, for whom my first restaurant is named, came to visit from Ecuador. She would stay for a week or longer, and it seemed as if she never left the kitchen.” He continues, “I was always drawn to the warmth of working beside the two of them to create hearty meals for our family, and that love of cooking is what eventually led me to culinary school and my career.”
Garces, who is now appearing on the 2010 season of “Iron Chef America,” says, “Even today, many of the dishes that we serve at my restaurants are inspired by their recipes. My mother was something of a wizard with empanadas, and I’ve re-imagined them on the menus of many of my restaurants, including a signature ‘Amada’s Empanada at Amada that has been a top-selling menu item since we opened in October 2005. It’s a plantain pastry stuffed with manchego cheese and spinach, served sliced open over an artichoke escabeche. I also serve a jumbo lump crab-stuffed version at Chifa, with sweet chile reduction and shaved cucumber.”
“I’ve been privileged to work with some of the finest chefs in America and Spain,” says Chef Garces, “but my passion for cooking comes from my early memories…. Even when I was a child, I was drawn to the joy of cooking a great meal. I have always loved the way that food can transform a person’s whole outlook and really make their day.”
Growing up, Mother’s Day was a day for dining out. He remembers, “For Mother’s Day at our house, that was the only day when my mom wouldn’t cook. That was the day we would go out and enjoy a meal at a restaurant. My brothers and sisters and I would make breakfast that day, and then we would go out for lunch or dinner so that way my mom had nothing to worry about.”
OUTSTANDING PASTRY CHEF AWARD
* Nicole Plue, Redd, Yountville, California
OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT AWARD
* Daniel, New York, New York
Chef/Owner: Daniel Boulud; Owner: Joel Smilow
OUTSTANDING WINE SERVICE AWARD
* Jean Georges, New York, New York
Wine Director: Bernard Sun
RISING STAR CHEF OF THE YEAR AWARD
* Timothy Hollingsworth, The French Laundry, Yountville, California
BEST CHEFS IN AMERICA
Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
* Jeff Michaud, Osteria, Philadelphia, Pennsyvlania
Best Chef: Midwest
* Alexander Roberts, Restaurant Alma, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Best Chef: New York City
* Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park
Best Chef: Northwest
* Jason Wilson, Crush, Seattle, Washington
Best Chef: Pacific
* David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos, California
Best Chef: South
* Michael Schwartz, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Miami, Florida
Best Chef: Southeast
* Sean Brock, McCrady’s, Charleston, South Carolina