Top Chef Season 8 Episode 1: Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’…

Top Chef Season 8 Episode 1 Bourdain Top Chef Season 8 Episode 1: Wanna Be Startin Somethin...
Bourdain asks Fabio, "You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me?"

Plein Sud Executive Chef Ed Cotton, a Top Chef finalist on season 7, sits down with us to discuss the first episode of what’s sure to be an uber-competitive season of Top Chef Season 8: All Stars.

Ed, what would make someone want to go back and go through this all again? Are y’all chefs gluttons for punishment? Is it a reckoning?

Why would someone want to go back through all of this again? Well, you’ve got to keep your eye on the prize. This year’s prize is $200,000! That’s a major reason why I would go back and take a leave from my restaurant Plein Sud, if offered. I also feel like some of the other cheftestants were axed a little bit too soon or fell just short of winning the whole thing. They are hungry to win this competition and get redemption. I know I would feel that way!

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Today’s Specials: OpenTable Spotlight Offers in LA, NY, and SF

Maxs PHI salmon Todays Specials: OpenTable Spotlight Offers in LA, NY, and SF
Save 50% on dishes like this one with OpenTable Spotlight offers.

Thank goodness it’s Thursday! Okay, we know Thursday isn’t as good as Friday, BUT this particular Thursday is pretty darned good. Why? Because we’ve got Spotlight offers turned on in three cities! Get $50 for just $25 in…

* Los Angeles at RESTAURANT in the Sunset Marquis: From its glamorous décor to the mouth-watering menu, everything at the Sunset Marquis is strictly A-list. Executive Chef Guillaume Burlion began his career in his native France, where he worked in several Michelin-starred restaurants. He went on to study under some of the greatest culinary masters in Japan, where he developed his signature style: light, fresh Asian flavors prepared with classical French techniques and flair. Treat yourself like the star you are and indulge in evening at RESTAURANT in the Sunset Marquis. Buy now!

* New York’s Nautilus Café: Discover fresh seafood, juicy lobsters, and prime steaks at the Nautilus Café, a cozy neighborhood gem tucked along the waterfront on Long Island. Set beside the docks of the beautiful Woodcleft Canal, hungry sailors and visitors can savor Seared Scallops, Strip Steak, Roast Long Island Duckling, and succulent surf and turf options like the Marinated Skirt Steak with Ale Battered Shrimp. Buy now!

* San Francisco at Le Zinc: Experience an authentic Parisian feast at this charming San Francisco bistro in the heart of Noe Valley. Owners and dynamic husband and wife team, Max and Diana Braud, bring the flavors and culture of Paris to their cozy neighborhood gem. Chef Max draws inspiration from his Gallic roots, creating delicious French inspired dishes and traditional French desserts from local, seasonal ingredients. Artfully combined with specialty imported French products, these handcrafted dishes showcase the best of both classic and contemporary bistro fare. Pair the flavorful cuisine with a carefully selected wine – Max and Diana owned Millésimes wine bar in Paris – and enjoy a little taste of Paris in San Francisco. Buy now!

And, don’t miss the last few minutes of additional Spotlight offers in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

Meet Chef Ed Cotton, Our New ‘Top Chef All-Stars’ Viewing Partner

Good Head Shot Ed Meet Chef Ed Cotton, Our New Top Chef All Stars Viewing Partner
Chef Ed Cotton was a finalist on the most recent season of Top Chef.

The latest incarnation of Top Chef includes an all-star cast of former cheftestants. So, we thought it only fitting to watch along each week with someone with intimate knowledge of the show and some of the contenders. Enter Ed Cotton, Executive Chef of New York’s Plein Sud, a restaurant located in the chic Smyth Hotel in Tribeca, where he serves offers affordable and authentic Brasserie-style cuisine. Cotton was a finalist on season 7 of Top Chef.

Ed, you came very close to a win on Top Chef. What lessons did you learn from the competition? Did you incorporate any criticism into the food you serve?

I felt great being in Singapore and competing for the title of Top Chef. I challenged and pushed myself in ways that I never had before. One basic rule that I was constantly reminded of during the competition was to try not to do so much on one plate. Chef Eric Ripert mentioned that I showed great workmanship and technique, but he thought I could have used fewer ingredients. I have taken Chef Riperts’s comments to heart, and when I put together new dishes at my restaurant Plein Sud, I always ask myself, “Is that extra ingredient really necessary?” So, yes, to this day, I incorporate the constructive criticism I received on Top Chef into every dish that I serve at my Tribeca establishment.

Are you interested in competing again?

Yes, I would love to compete again! I have always been an extremely competitive person especially when it came to cooking and food. Knowing what I know now, I think that I could pull off a win if I was fortunate enough to go on another Top Chef journey.

Will you root for — or against — Angelo? Are you guys friends off-camera?

That’s a good question….are you trying to get me in trouble? I will cheer him on just as much as my other chef friends on All Stars this season. We saw each other a few weeks ago, when we both participated in the TrueFlavors Cook-Off in Washington, DC for True Child, a national organization committed to helping children break through stereotypes. There will always be a competitive vibe between us. I am not going to root again him…but I do hope that these challenges give him a run for his money.

Tune in later today for our first recap featuring Ed’s expert insights!

After Cyber Monday, OpenTable Spotlight Offers Give You More Ways to Save!

OTSpotlightDenver1201 After Cyber Monday, OpenTable Spotlight Offers Give You More Ways to Save!
Dive into the ceviche at La Tour in Denver -- at a discount!

Did Black Friday bust your bank account? Did you get silly with Cyber Monday savings? As I like, a girl’s (and a guy’s) still gotta eat! Check out this week’s round of OpenTable Spotlight offers in a city near you to ease the pain of holiday shopping. Enjoy $25 for $50 at…

* Atlanta: At Amuse! in midtown-Atlanta, diners are invited to relax and enjoy sophisticated, French-inspired cuisine in an eccentric and joyful atmosphere. The menu features creative and flavorful classics by Chef de Cuisine Noelle Thomas that are prepared with the freshest seasonal ingredients. Characterized by a modern bohemian feel, Amuse! features a décor inspired by vintage French knickknacks and natural light. Purchase now!

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OpenTable Introduces New Metro Home Page with Improved Features

So, it’s the ‘new’ Friday (otherwise known as Thursday) and you have dinner plans with a friend —  but no idea where to dine. Naturally, we do — and now you will, too, thanks to OpenTable’s new metro home page, which launches in all metro areas tomorrow morning. Front and center, you’ll find available tables for two at some of your city’s most popular and highest-rated restaurants. Just click on a time, and you’re on your way! Known as ‘Tables for Two Tonight,’ it is one of several new concepts that we’ve introduced as part of a facelift to our metro homepage.

start OpenTable Introduces New Metro Home Page with Improved Features

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Cooking Avec Eric Ripert: Le Bernardin’s Executive Chef on His Latest Book

Avec Eric Angie Mosier Cooking Avec Eric Ripert: Le Bernardins Executive Chef on His Latest Book
Author Eric Ripert with Avec Eric photographer Angie Mosier.

Eric Ripert’s popular series Avec Eric is currently in its second successful season and now fans can relive their favorite moments with the companion cookbook, also called Avec Eric. A cross between a captain’s log and a cookbook, Avec Eric is is a must-have for fans of this inquisitive chef’s culinary adventures. He sat down to share his thoughts on this new release.

Obviously, travel is a central theme in Avec Eric. I imagine, as for other professionals, travel can be a luxury for a chef/restaurateur. How important is it for you to get out from behind the line and go into the world to experience food as a diner/tourist/etc.?

For me, travel is a huge source of inspiration, and so it is no question that I must get out and visit new places or I will start to feel burned out. I am very lucky to be able to travel every year. Creativity is something that you cannot turn on and off, and so sometimes I may see something out on the road and one day many years later, it will show up in some way or another in my food. So, I feel it’s important for me to constantly see and taste and try new things.

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Go Thanksgiving Shopping Today…for an OpenTable Spotlight Offer!

House of India Chicken Go Thanksgiving Shopping Today...for an OpenTable Spotlight Offer!
Sink your teeth into the savings and the chicken at DC's Cafe of India

At OpenTable, we love Thanksgiving (Food! Dining! Food!)! Because a lot of our diners will be traveling this week to spend every foodie’s favorite holiday with family and friends, we’ve rolled out our Spotlight offers a day early. Get $50 for $25 at Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta, Boston, and Chicago, Black Pearl in Denver, Los Angeles restaurant Chez Melange, New York’s Tula, Generations in Philadelphia, Cioppino’s On The Wharf in San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. fave Cafe of India.

Which offer whets your appetite? Share your thoughts on the Spotlight message boards, Facebook, or Twitter!

The Next Iron Chef Finale: Newest Iron Chef Marc Forgione Reflects on His Win

Iron Chef Finale Victory1 The Next Iron Chef Finale: Newest Iron Chef Marc Forgione Reflects on His Win
"It's insane, this club that I just got accepted into. It's an absolute honor. You're one of the faces of this industry that I love." — Iron Chef Forgione

We’ve been following his every move for weeks, so we were so pleased to see the talented Marc Forgione claim the title of Iron Chef! Chef Forgione — or, ahem — Iron Chef Forgione talked to us about the last episode, his judges and co-competitors, and the first Thanksgiving.

Marc, it’s neat that you brought up your dad. First, his ‘American Place’ cookbook is, literally, prominently displayed in my home. BUT…I actually think of you absolutely discretely from him. Have you ever felt that you’ve cooked in his shadow?

Throughout my entire life, no matter where I have worked or who I have worked for, I have always heard the comment, “I heard you are Larry’s kid.” Most people would think that this puts me at an advantage, but that could not be farther from the truth. Every time I would slip up, I would have to hear a barage of questions, comparing me to him: “Would your father serve that? Would your father eat that?” and so on.  Having said that, I obviously respect my father immensely and everything he has done for the restaurant business.  I can only hope that one day they will be asking my son the same exact questions.

Bobby Flay and Morimoto are sitting in judgment. What are you thinking in terms of cooking for these two chefs?

Bobby Flay and Morimoto are legends in this business and cooking for the two of them definitely ups the ante for the task at hand. Morimoto commented during my first few dishes that he thought some things were salty – that definitely got me nervous.  I loved hearing Bobby’s feedback throughout my courses. He was not just tasting the food but was truly judging everything that was going on throughout the battle. He broke down every single aspect of the dishes I put in front of him, and I valued all of his insights.

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Top Chef Just Desserts Finale: Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis on Love and Loss

TCJD Finale Yigit Top Chef Just Desserts Finale: Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis on Love and Loss
Isn't Yigit sweet?

It’s probably safe to say that the first season of Top Chef Just Desserts was a resounding success, so we’re pleased to bring you — for the last time this season but not the last time, I hope — expert insights from Le Bernardin‘s own Michael Laiskonis.

Before we even dive in, how high are the judges’ expectations at this point? Can you put this into perspective? In terms of the title being meaningful, do the standards have to be insane?

I’d like to think that the standards and expectations have been at a constant high level throughout the competition. As this challenge will represent the sum total of the chefs’ work, I’d also bet the judges are really looking for that personal touch; and that’s also when the chef’s are really just pushing their own limits and competing less with each other and more against themselves.

What does a progressive, four-course dessert tasting mean for you when you hear that? Does it inspire opportunity? Fear? Have you done this/do you do this at Le Bernardin? When would a civilian diner (like me) get this opportunity?

I love that kind of format, as it gives us pastry chefs a rare opportunity to take guests on a little sweet journey — an opportunity to explore a range of techniques, flavors, and textures. I also like exploiting a buildup of intensity and creating a cohesive package in small, distinct dishes. We don’t exactly have that kind of structure built into our menu at Le Bernardin, but we’re willing to negotiate such a thing! One restaurant that does is wd-50, where pastry genius Alex Stupak offers an amazing multi-course dessert tasting. Continue reading…