Rob Kinneen of Orso Talks Sustainable Sourcing in Alaska with The Cultivated Plate

This week, we visit with Rob Kinneen, executive chef at ORSO in Anchorage, Alaska. Born and bred in Alaska, when the culinary arts beckoned, Kinneen headed to Hyde Park, New York, to hone his skills at the Culinary Institute of America. After school, he remained in the lower 48, cooking first in the Big Easy and then North Carolina. Even though Alaska has a reputation for self-sufficiency, the state imports 97% of its food, a statistic that makes Kinneen cringe. Now a champion of Alaska’s producers, Kinneen is working hard to make sure the Last Frontier isn’t the last state to embrace sustainability.

Watch as Chef Kinneen opens up to OpenTable about the agony and the ecstasy of trying to source responsibly in the 49th state.

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DC Restaurant Week 2010: Where Will the ‘Real Housewives of DC’ Dine?

Real Housewives of Washington DC DC Restaurant Week 2010: Where Will the Real Housewives of DC Dine?
Advice to the RHDC: Don't fill up on the bread during DC Restaurant Week.

August is shaping up to be one of the most exciting months in our nation’s capital, in great part due to the premiere of The Real Housewives of Washington, D.C. on August 5th and the eagerly anticipated arrival of Washington D.C. Restaurant Week on August 16th.

Insanely popular with the populace of D.C., D.C. Restaurant Week includes more than 200 restaurants offering multi-course lunches and dinners for $20.10 and $35.10, respectively. Get-them-while-you-can-tables include 1789, Bibiana, Bourbon Steak, Co Co Sala, J & G Steakhouse, Lyon Hall, Oya, PotenzaPOV, RIS, and Zaytinya, among many others.

At OpenTable, we’re wondering if the world’s latest round of housewives you’re going to love to loathe will take advantage of two of DC’s tastiest weeks. We’ve got a suggestion for each to whet their appetites!

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Top Chef D.C. Episode 6: (War) Games People Play

TCDC6 RWB Judges Top Chef D.C. Episode 6: (War) Games People Play
Does Gale's refusal to wear red, white, or a blue make her a pinko? The State Department will investigate.

I watched “Top Chef “up in Anchorage, Alaska, this week, and I realized midway through that, on account of the time difference, I could have gone online to find out who went home without watching. You probably already know that one of my faves, Tamesha, got her walking papers. But, wait, how did it come to this? Judging from what transpired, it was a mix of a bad dish and a bad alliance with the devilish (and devilishly good looking) Angelo.

The QFC…

Michelle Bernstein of Michy’s returns as a guest judge, much to the chagrin of fellow Miamian Andrea (who repeatedly winks at Michelle, making it look like she has a tic), and the ep kicks off with a ridiculous challenge (in the grand tradition of ridiculous QFC challenges). Seriously, is anyone else waiting for a nude challenge? Probably not. Blech. Sorry, I even typed that. Okay, how about a blindfolded cooking challenge? It’s coming. You heard it here first. Anyway, the cheftestants have to cook a winning dish with exotic proteins, including crocodile, rattlesnake, yak, duck testicles (!), and emu eggs, among others. It’s not terribly crazy (excepting Amanda having to open her emu eggs with a hack saw) until about 10 minutes into prep when the chefs are forced to switch places with the person to their left. A lot of folks get hosed by this last-minute prep shift, but some also score as they are able to abandon an undesirable ingredient for an easier one. Continue reading…

The Cultivated Plate Visits Guy Reuge and Mirabelle’s Cultivated Kitchen Garden

OpenTable’s weekly feature The Cultivated Plate, in which we check in with chefs and restaurateurs about how and from where they source their ingredients, continues with chef Guy Reuge of Mirabelle in Stony Brook, New York.

Sourcing ingredients isn’t terribly challenging for Mirabelle. With a bevy of local farms on Long Island’s east end, chef Reuge and his staff have easy access to some of New York’s finest local ingredients. However, they wanted to take local a step further and have installed a kitchen garden on the grounds. Not yet big enough to provide all the sourcing (and it may never be for this very popular restaurant), the garden’s ingredients, particularly the bevy of herbs, show up in many dishes and cocktails.

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Summer Restaurant Weeks Are Here: Celebrate in a City Near You

Summer Restaurant Weeks 2010 Summer Restaurant Weeks Are Here: Celebrate in a City Near YouForget the shore! The coolest places to be this summer are restaurants, thanks to the summer Restaurant Weeks that are going on around the nation. Hard to resist because they’re so easy on the wallet, restaurant weeks are the best way to try out new establishments and revisit old favorites. In New York, home to the nation’s most famous and first restaurant week, it’s the most anticipated time of the year for bloggers, locals, visitors, and the restaurants themselves. In addition to the Big Apple’s two big weeks, July signals the start of celebrations in Atlanta, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Charlotte, Hudson County, South Jersey, and Toronto. August welcomes Restaurant Weeks in the cities of Alexandria, Baltimore, Baltimore County, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Whether you’re hitting the road or staying home, keep checking our national Restaurant Week page for news about the hottest deals throughout the summer — and all year ’round — including extended dates!

Top Chef D.C. Episode 5: Lord Love a Duck

TCDC5Jacket Top Chef D.C. Episode 5: Lord Love a Duck
Chef Patrick O'Connell has terrific taste (in food, if not clothing).

Welcome to another week of TCDC and Ed Hardy, your favorite aspiring cheftestant. Don’t forget to join his Facebook group “Why Isn’t Ed Hardy on ‘Top Chef’?” Anyway, this week Kenny is sad because two competitors are gone (or so he says). We get a glimpse of some burgeoning alliances (or romances) in the way of Angelo bonding with Tamesha, admitting he’s attracted to her because she reminds him of himself. Ah, narcissism at its finest. Kelly thinks Angelo is gaming Angela, which could be a good guess. Ed and Tiffany are also growing closer, but in a far less creepy/game-y way.

The Quickfire Challenge…

Everything’s coming up crabs at the Hinkley Hilton. Padma is joined by guest judge Patrick O’Connell of The Inn at Little Washington. Kevin is psyched because he’s cooked for O’Connell previously at the Bocuse d’Or. Angelo says something about having had crabs (and not the tasty kind). They get an hour to cook this hyperlocal ingredient that is still ALIVE. I’m really sad watching this because I hate to kill anything. Especially lobsters.

Anyway, it’s a total massacre. Crabs are being killed in every way possible – dismemberment, stabbings, baking, broiling, and boiling. People aren’t using tongs and are getting bitten. Some cheftestants aren’t used to the fact that there isn’t a lot of meat in blue crabs. Tamesha reveals she’s never picked or eaten a crab due to an allergy.

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The Cultivated Plate: Shopping and Sourcing with Chef Al Nappo of Founding Farmers

OpenTable’s weekly feature The Cultivated Plate, in which we check in with chefs and restaurateurs about how and from where they source their ingredients, continues with chef Al Nappo of Washington, D.C. restaurant Founding Farmers.

Chef Al Nappo shares his sourcing story with OpenTable after the jump.

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Top Chef D.C. Episode 4: The Last Supper

TCDC4 Touch Me Top Chef D.C. Episode 4: The Last Supper
"Angelo, I just don't like you in that way."

We’re back with another week of “Top Chef: D.C.”, eagerly wondering who will go home and why. Would-be cheftestant Ed Hardy is tuning in with me, as usual. This week looks to be super-exciting because two contenders are going home. Sadly, this week proves to be not at all exciting. There’s a lot of cooking going on, but the drama is missing in action.

What’s also missing in action is money. Ed says, “Financial belt(way)-tightening is apparently the item du jour, as both Congress and Bravo cut back on expenses. It appears that corporations still have a little money, so Hilton rides to our rescue with enough dough to keep the lights turned on, but not much else. We get a completely forgettable corporate guest judge. I dub her ‘Nameless Hilton suit.’ Doesn’t Hilton have any notable chefs to send over?”[CP Note: Yes, and they are probably FUMING!]

As we regroup, everyone wakes up. Arnold is glad that he’s made friends with the grill, Andrea misses Tracey, and Timothy promises he’s going to finish the competition strong despite his slow start. Cut to…

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Gramercy Tavern’s String Bean Salad: A Close Look at a Cultivated Plate

Wondering how local one of Gramercy Tavern‘s dishes really is? Me, too! So, I photographed their lovely-to-look-at-and-eat seasonal string bean salad and tracked down its origins with help from executive chef Mike Anthony and his staff. You can see for yourself just how far (which is to say, not very) the salad’s ingredients have traveled to your table.

GramercySourceDish Gramercy Taverns String Bean Salad: A Close Look at a Cultivated Plate

View Gramercy Tavern’s “Cultivated Plate” in a larger map

The Cultivated Plate: Gramercy Tavern Chef Michael Anthony’s Sourcing Story

OpenTable is pleased to announce the launch of The Cultivated Plate, a new weekly feature on Dining Check about how and from where restaurants source their ingredients. From the practical to the political, chefs and restaurateurs will share the challenges and the opportunities in bringing food from farm to table. This week, chef Michael Anthony discusses how he tells Gramercy Tavern’s story by shopping at the Greenmarket.

GT is located only 3 blocks aways so from every single angle, the market represents the best resource that we have as diners and as restaurateurs in the city. It’s the beginning for all the dishes that we eat at home and all of the dishes we serve at the restaurant.
It offers the greatest flexibilities in terms of buying. The fact that ehese folks come from up to 3.5 to 4 hours a day and are willing to be here to answer questions and provide information. This is the greatest flexibility for buying food.
The majority of our food comes riht from the market. We support other farms through other companies. But sincer we’re three blocks away, we have a whole team of ppl responsible for combing the market. The goald is to buy local, but we don’t define local bye a geographic point on the map. We’re defining local by the relationships we make when we’re buying our food. We’re trying to builda dialogue. There’s a healthy evolution between diners and chefs.

Watch as Chef Anthony shares his thoughts on the farm-to-table label, how he addresses diners who want fresh tomatoes in January, and where truffles fit in to his menu at Gramercy Tavern. And, read more sourcing insights from this chef after the jump.

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