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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
As a diner, when you think about OpenTable, you probably think about the convenience of booking restaurant reservations online (as we hope you do!). However, recent buzz has led some diners to wonder, “Is OpenTable as good for my favorite restaurants as it is for me?” Well, we certainly believe so, and here’s the how and the why.
Well, we simply couldn’t wait to bring savings your way, so we’re pleased to announce live deals in Los Angeles, New York, and Oakland. As always, the OpenTable Spotlight will be turned on later tonight in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. We also have four more Spotlight offers set to shine in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco on Thursday!
Last night’s episode of The Next Iron Chef was all about seduction — and elimination as two of the final four were sent packing. Chef Marc Forgione takes us behind the scenes on how he survived to cook in Kitchen Stadium next week.
First, do you always cook in black? And, did you always wear black — or not until you were in charge?
Pretty straight-forward answer to this question: Black is my favorite color. I have been wearing black chef coats ever since I had my own restaurant. I have even instilled my color preference onto my staff — we all wear black in my kitchen. It has become a signature style choice at the restaurant!
This show has been very challenging, obviously. Can you name another time in your career that you were under as much pressure to prove yourself?
I have faced different kinds of pressure ever since I became a chef and started my career in the restaurant industry. Opening a restaurant with your name on the front door creates more pressure than most would choose to deal with. However, the emotions that I endured throughout filming, both mentally and physically, were unlike any others I have ever felt. They were all-consuming and challenged my very nature as a chef. I think I mentioned on the show that the entire process felt like a science project. As contestants, we were being experimented on to see how much the human body and mind could actually endure. Continue reading…
It’s down to the wire on Top Chef Just Desserts and Le Bernardin Executive Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis was along for the nail-biter of a ride we took last night. His expert answers helped shed light on Francois Payard’s impeccable reputation, Yigit’s spray can, and what it really takes to make a chocolate truffle.
Thanks for being here again! I’ll be honest; I think I missed the advent of Chef Payard. I’ve heard the name, but I’ve never dined at his restaurants, and they’re now closed. Can you put his reputation into perspective for those of us who don’t know at all who he is?
Let me tell you… I’d have to say, that as a very young cook, Francois was certainly my first pastry idol. What many don’t realize is that way back then, in the early 90s, he was the pastry chef at Le Bernardin, his first big job in the US. We know Francois today for his beautiful retail shops, but he was doing some very creative things with plated restaurant desserts when that form was in its infancy. Of all the chefs with whom I’ve rubbed shoulders over the years, I’m most proud of the fact that he’s become a good friend. And, for those who mourned the closing of his Upper East Side boutique, there’s good news: Francois Payard Bakery opened just six weeks ago on Manhattan’s Houston Street!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year — or close to it. And, that means getting together with friends and family to celebrate the season! Finding room on your calendar may be tough, but finding the right restaurant won’t be, thanks to the 2010 OpenTable Diners’ Choice Award winners in our ‘Good for Groups’ category. Derived from more than 7 million reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for 12,000+ restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, this list indicates the 50 best restaurants in the OpenTable network for group dining.
Not just based on space, the winning restaurants serve up superior service and all types of delicious dishes, including family-style Italian suppers and authentic Mexican specialties to hearty barbecue favorites and juicy steaks. The Good for Groups Diners’ Choice Award winners guarantee your group will have a great time and a great meal.
What makes a restaurant good for groups? We asked Diners’ Choice winner Wildwood Barbeque’s Pitmaster “Big Lou” Elrose, and he said, “Wildwood Barbeque welcomes big groups with open arms! We’re a great place to gather all your friends and family or office mates for a fun time and there is something for everyone from multi-regional American BBQ, addictive bar snacks, salads and sandwiches in addition to pitchers of beer and an extensive selection of whiskey and bourbon.”
Did your favorite restaurant make our list? Do you enjoy dining out in groups or do you prefer smaller parties? Weigh in here or join the discussion on Facebook.