Talking Shop with Stephanie Izard: On Goat, Being Recognized at the Airport + ‘Reasonably Authentic’ Chinese Food

Talking Shop with Stephanie Izard: On Goat, Being Recognized at the Airport & “Reasonably Authentic” Chinese Food

Chef Stephanie Izard is not short on accolades. In addition to being named winner of Bravo’s Top Chef — along with being named fan favorite (she had my vote) — she earned James Beard’s Best Chef: Great Lakes award in 2013 and Food & Wine’s Best New Chef title in 2010.

The awards are well deserved. Izard is the Executive Chef/Partner of three beloved Chicago restaurants: Girl & the Goat, Little Goat (a diner and bakery), and her latest, Duck Duck Goat, an ode to what she calls “reasonably authentic” Chinese food. The menu boasts a menu of delights including Duck Eggrolls Nom‎ Wah style; Sichuan Eggplant & Goat Sausage; Sanbeiji (Taiwanese 3-cup chicken); and Slap Noodles with shrimp, goat sausage, eggplant, and mushroom. Bring it.

Andrea Strong spoke to Izard, who was very pregnant with her first baby due in late May, about becoming famous, naming her restaurant after a goat, and what to eat when you’re expecting.

Talking Shop with Stephanie Izard: On Goat, Being Recognized at the Airport & “Reasonably Authentic” Chinese Food

Growing up in Connecticut, how did you get into food?

I always think that chefs either grew up eating really good food or really bad food and had to learn to cook in order to eat. In my case, luckily, my mom was a great cook. She was always making things from all over the world. She was really into Asian food and would make tempura, moo shu pork, even sushi, alongside things like roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. We would make a menu for the week and hang it on the fridge. My friends could look at it and decide what looked good and when they wanted to come over.

When did you know food would be your life?

I was the kid who was always watching Julia Child, but back in the early ’90s being a chef was not what people think it is today. It was not really a career. So my plan was to go to college and get a business degree.

And I guess looking back on it, I found a roundabout way to get into business. I went to the University of Michigan, and let’s just say it was a lot of fun (maybe a little too much fun for me) and I didn’t get into business school. I graduated and I felt lost. My dad actually suggested cooking school. He was the one who said, ‘You’ve always loved to cook, why not try it?’

Did you have an ‘Aha!’ moment where you knew it was the right decision? Continue Reading

OpenTable Tops 10 Million Online Restaurant Reviews, Thanks to Diners Like You!

Here's to you and the next 10,000,000 reviews!

We are thrilled to announce that the OpenTable Reviews program has generated more than 10 million reviews by verified diners. Created to benefit both diners and restaurateurs, OpenTable is grateful to our diners for contributing authentic, timely reviews that reflect their experiences at the restaurants they frequent.

“OpenTable reviews provide us with valuable feedback from guests that we use in grading ourselves,” said Kevin Boehm, co-founder of Boka Restaurant Group which includes widely acclaimed Girl & the Goat, GT Fish & Oyster, and Perennial Virant.  “Best of all, OpenTable reviews help us show our guests better hospitality by giving us insight into their needs, likes, and dislikes.  And having the ability to reach out to guests via email gives us a valuable recovery tool if we have made a misstep.”

We checked in with Emilie De Leon, a frequent OpenTable diner, for her take on our reviews. She shares, “OpenTable reviews have always been a part of my food adventures,” said De Leon, an avid foodie and blogger. “I can always count on and trust its reviews to be constructive, detailed, and to the point, and that helps me decide where to dine. They’re a must for the no-nonsense foodie,” she adds.

Thanks to every diner who has taken the time to share their thoughts with everyone on the OpenTable network. We look forward to your continued contributions — as do your fellow foodies.

50 Hottest Restaurants in the US + Top 10 Hottest New Restaurants: 2011 OpenTable Diners’ Choice Award Winners Revealed!

Did your favorite hot spot make our list?

On the heels of the arrival of spring, our Diners’ Choice Awards are heating up! We are pleased to announce the 50 winners of the 2011 OpenTable Diners’ Choice Awards for the Top Hot Spot RestaurantsThe list of winners is derived from 7 million+ reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for more than 12,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The winners, which include The Bazaar by José AndrésGirl & the Goat, and The Standard Grill, clearly shows that new restaurants are making a big splash with diners while established restaurants are easily sustaining their incredible appeal. Los Angeles, City of Angels and celebrities, proved itself the city of hot spots, with 11 winning restaurants, while New York boasts eight winning hot spots. Ten restaurants from the Sunshine State, including six in Miami alone, were named top hot spots. And, in a surprise, the Midwest bested Sin City, with six winning restaurants in Chicago versus Vegas’s four honorees. The Twin Cities received twin honors, with two restaurants earning places on the list. Additional cities with wins include Boston, Charleston, Cincinnati, Portland, and Scottsdale, among others. Read the full list here.

In a nod toward OpenTable diners’ love of trying new restaurants, 15 of the winning restaurants are new, opening their doors within the past year. The Top 10 Hottest New Restaurants are, in order of popularity:

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