10 Things We Learned at the 2016 Cherry Bombe Jubilee

OpenTable had the privilege of being a sponsor of the 2016 Cherry Bombe Jubilee held yesterday at Manhattan’s Highline Hotel. Culinary legends, journalists, small business owners, and more gathered to listen, learn, and get inspired by the past and excited for the future of women in food. Here are 10 takeaways, ICYMI.

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Make soup. The Hemsley sisters of UK catering company Hemsley + Hemsley are huge soup and bone broth advocates. “This should be the first things kids learn to make.”

“Get a job in a kitchen; it makes you a better boss.” Amanda Hess had the privilege of working in a completely civilized kitchen under Jodi Adams, but subsequent gigs weren’t quite as heavenly, and she was inspired to lead based on lessons learned at the former.

Looking for the next big thing in food (or any industry)? Look for white space. Find out what’s missing and fill the void.

Don’t get too judge-y about non-organic labels. A lot of farmers aren’t growing certified organic because they simply cannot afford to lose an entire crop to disease or pests. Their profit margins are already perilously thin; according to the USDA, most farmers make less than $80,000. That’s not much money for folks who need to be a chemist, a scientist, and a mechanic in order to manage their farms.

Mental illness, such as depression and anxiety, is prevalent in the culinary industry. This is due, in large part, to the overwhelming demands of the job. Only 3.5% of respondents to a survey on ChefswithIssues.com indicated that their mental health issues are NOT tied to the profession. If you’re suffering, you can visit the site (founded by foodista Kat Kinsman) for support and resources.

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A restaurant owner will always hire a woman as a chef – if she’s the owner. Back in the day (the day being 1982), female chefs were a rarity – and even more so if they weren’t chef-owners of their own restaurants. The critic Mimi Sheraton counted just one who was a hired gun at the time. Things have shifted, but there’s still quite a way to go.Continue Reading

Chef Maria Hines Shines in Seattle Restaurant Scene

The name Maria Hines has been synonymous with inventive food and high-quality service since she first appeared on the Seattle restaurant scene in 2003. After a brief stint at Earth & Ocean, she went on to open three critically acclaimed, all-organic restaurants and win numerous honors. We chatted with her recently to find out more about her passion for organic food, what she looks for on the rare occasion she eats at someone else’s restaurant, and what it’s like being a woman in a field that’s still dominated by men.

Chef Maria Hines

Chef Maria Hines grew up in San Diego and attended culinary school at San Diego Mesa College. After building her skills in France, she cooked in major cities such as Washington and New York. But she’s always loved he Northwest, she says, and she jumped at the chance to move to Seattle in 2003.

Hines owns three very different restaurants: Tilth, which focuses on New American cuisine, Golden Beetle, which offers craft cocktails and eastern Mediterranean food inspired by her travels in Turkey, Egypt, and Lebanon, and Agrodolce, where lovers of southern Italian and Sicilian food can enjoy a memorable meal. When asked why she doesn’t just stick with one type of cuisine, she says, “I’d get too bored. Cooking is a great creative outlet.”

There are common threads that run through all of these restaurants, however, namely a high-quality experience and a commitment to organic food. Tilth, Golden Beetle, and Agrodolce are all certified organic by Oregon Tilth, meaning at least 95 percent of the food has to be organic.

“Organic food is all we eat at home, so that’s what I wanted to do at the restaurant,” she says. To ensure she can meet these strict guidelines, Hines makes many condiments and sides from scratch, including ketchup, mustard, jam, harissa, butter, charcuterie, pasta, and cheese.

Chef Maria Hines

Organic foods taste better and are more sustainably grown, she says, both of which are very important to her. In fact, the commitment to sustainability goes beyond the kitchen and to all other parts of the business. All of her restaurants recycle and compost, purchase green cleaning and paper products, and utilize low-VOC paints on the interior.

When Hines dines out, she says she looks for “well-executed, consistent food and knowledgeable service. A nice room with great ambiance.” She tends to favor Korean or Asian restaurants but will try whatever strikes her fancy that day.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (as reported by Bloomberg Business) shows that only 39 percent of restaurant cooks are women, and less than 19 percent of head chefs are women. Since March is Women’s History Month, I asked Hines what opportunities and challenges exist for women in the restaurant industry. She immediately became animated.Continue Reading

OpenTable Reviews Reveal #DinersChoice Top 100 Fit for Foodies Restaurants in America — with Slideshow

In celebration of our country’s progressive food and dining culture, we are pleased to honor the 2014 Diners’ Choice Award winners for the Top 100 Fit for Foodies Restaurants in America. These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 20,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Newer eateries rule the list, with the majority of winners opening in the last three years. More than 20 were founded in 2012 alone, while 15 launched in 2013, and six debuted as recently as 2014. Also, 14 of the honorees have women as executive chefs. American fare is overwhelmingly popular, but French and Italian restaurants are common among the honorees.  Other popular cuisines include Japanese, Spanish, Middle Eastern, modern European, tapas/small plates, and vegetarian.

Showcasing restaurants with unique menus, easygoing ambience, and passionate chefs who have a “source local, cook global” approach, the complete list includes award winners in 29 states, including Aviary in Portland, Odd Duck in Austin, and Vedge in Philadelphia. Restaurants in Portland and Philadelphia collectively account for almost 25 percent of the list. California has the greatest number of winners with 14, followed closely by Oregon and Pennsylvania with 13 each. New York has eight honorees, while Colorado, Massachusetts, and Washington all have five, and Illinois has four. Minnesota, Missouri, and Texas each have three winning restaurants. Arizona, Delaware, Indiana, Maine, North Carolina, and Virginia, respectively, have two award winners. Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin are also represented.

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App for Dining with Allergies; Bad Food Trends; Five Diamond Restaurants + More

Eatible can tell allergy sufferers which foods are edible.

Food and dining news from around the web and the world…

* Worried about food allergies when dining out? There’s an app for that. [PC News]

* Age matters. When it comes to visiting restaurants, anyway. Older folks eat out more than young adults. [Consumerist]

* Five bad food trends. Courtesy of the curmudgeonly Josh Ozersky. [Time]

* Ten neither good nor bad menu trends. Change is afoot in the coming year. [IntheCapital.com]

* A woman’s place is in the restaurant kitchen. But it isn’t always easy. [ClarionLedger.com]

* Five diamonds are a chef’s best friend. Find out which restaurants scored the coveted Five Diamond rating from AAA. [USA Today]

* So that’s why I’m a good tipper! Rich diners don’t care about wages for restaurant workers. I, being un-rich, do. [AOL Jobs]

* Will an American ever win the Bocuse d’Or? Chef Paul Bocuse can dream. [WSJ]

* Fighting the flu with a new fork. Touchless cutlery is helping diners fend off illness. [11alive.com]Continue Reading