10 Things You Need to Know About Top Chef Seattle Episode 11

The idea of elevating a humble cuisine is a bit tired, but last night it was inspiring to see Sheldon execute his mission to marry the authenticity of Filipino food with modern elegance.

This season has been supremely frustrating, from the appearance of the grating and gangly CJ to the non-cancellation of The Josie Show, but this episode is really the sour cherry atop all of that. Don’t get me wrong; it was so satisfying to see Sheldon shine, but if you were on Twitter and following the #topchef action, you’re well aware of the mutiny among viewers prompted by the events at judges’ table.

1. Stefan was immediately singled out to do front of house because he’d been through restaurant wars before. I see that logic, but not at all, because … it’s Stefan! He does not suffer fools, and, really, that’s part and parcel of FOH work. I will say, however, in my years as a hostess, I did often fantasize about being able to shame campers into moving on so that I could seat the throngs of hungry diners at the door.

2. Kristen basically called Josie classless.

3. Elevating a cuisine you’ve never had before is a hard thing to do. And Josh did just that, with Sheldon’s tutelage, of course.

4. Brooke has opened four (!) restaurants with her husband, so it’s no surprise that she has a deft front-of-house touch.

5. Sheldon may well be the most guileless, genuinely kind cheftestant this competition has ever seen.

6. Kristen would prefer to have a dishwasher as her sous. This sounds like an insult (and probably is), but Sheldon started out as a dishwasher and he employs his restaurant wars dishwasher to help with prep work.Continue Reading

OpenTable Diner Reviews Reveal Top 100 Best Overall Restaurants in the U.S.

2012 Diners’ Choice Award winner Gramercy Tavern is renowned for their ever-changing menu of seasonal, local fare from NYC’s Greenmarket, such as this stunning dish, which makes them a favorite of OpenTable diners.

As we reflect on a fabulous year of fine dining, we are pleased to announce the 2012 Diners’ Choice Award winners for the Top 100 Best Restaurants in the United States. These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 5 million reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 15,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The list of winners, which includes Eleven Madison Park in New York City, Manresa in Los Gatos, Calif., and o ya in Boston, spans 27 states and Washington, D.C.  California restaurants earned 24 spots on the list, followed by New York with 18 winners. Virginia boasts six winning restaurants, trailed by Arizona, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania with four honorees apiece. North Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, and Washington, D.C. all have three winning restaurants, while Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, and Ohio have two each. Connecticut earned a single spot, as did Hawaii, Kansas, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Restaurants serving American fare dominated the list; French cuisine is also strongly represented.

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Congratulations to the 2011 James Beard Foundation Award Nominees!

Congrats to chef Mike Anthony of Gramercy Tavern on his 2011 James Beard Foundation Award nomination!

Our friends at the James Beard Foundation have released their list of nominees for the 2011 James Beard Foundation Awards, otherwise known as the “Oscars” of the food world. Congratulations — and good luck — to all the nominees and honorees. Use the links below to reserve at the nominated restaurants to select your own set of winners. And, remember, you — Yes, you! — can dine at the James Beard House. Learn more, here!

Best New Restaurant
A restaurant opened in 2010 that already displays excellence in food, beverage, and service and is likely to have a significant impact on the industry in years to come.

* ABC Kitchen, New York, NY
* Benu, San Francisco, CA
* Girl & the Goat, Chicago, IL
* Menton, Boston, MA
* Torrisi Italian Specialties, New York, NY

Outstanding Chef Award
A working chef in America whose career has set national industry standards and who has served as an inspiration to other food professionals. Candidates must have been working as chefs for at least the past 5 years.

* José Andrés, minibar, Washington, D.C.
* Gary Danko, Restaurant Gary Danko, San Francisco, CA
* Suzanne Goin, Lucques, Los Angeles, CA
* Paul Kahan, Blackbird, Chicago, IL
* Charles Phan, The Slanted Door, San Francisco, CA

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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.


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