The Perfect Present: What 8 Celebrity Chefs Want for the Holidays

The phrase ‘celebrity chef’ might conjure images of a glamorous life filled with fan-packed book signings, high profile television appearances and hanging out with Hollywood A-listers. But no matter how big a star you are in the culinary world, the job still requires long hours in the kitchen doing backbreaking work. By the time December rolls around, these top toques are looking forward to some rest and relaxation just like everyone else. As they gather around the Christmas tree, Hanukkah menorah, or Festivus pole, they’re hoping to find a thoughtful gift from their loved ones. Here’s what 8 celebrity chefs want for the holidays. Santa and co., we hope you’re listening.

Michael Schlow, The Riggsby + Tico, Washington, D.C.
“In our house we celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah, and every year my friends and family ask me, ‘What do you want as a gift this year?’ I’ve got the most important gift, which is my amazing family and my health, and Santa knows I’ve also received my fair share of good wines and sharp sweaters every year. Since I have no control on world peace – and my silent prayers for a simple, fair, flat tax code continue to go unanswered – I keep looking around at what I really want for the holidays this year. I really don’t want for much, but I’d be thrilled with a new pair of Todd Rogers frames, a big gift certificate to Korin, my favorite Japanese cutlery shop, in New York City, and a couple of nights away, just me and my wife.”

What 8 Celebrity Chefs Want for the Holidays

Michael Mina, MICHAEL MINA, San Francisco, California
“When I traveled to Lebanon, I visited the market and met the most amazing spice vendor and got an incredible Middle Eastern Barbecue spice mix. I have been trying to track down that vendor ever since and would love to get more of that mix. Maybe Santa can help me out with this one….”

What 8 Celebrity Chefs Want for the Holidays

Spike Mendelsohn, Béarnaise, Washington, D.C.
“This Festivus I want a new longboard. Next year, I’m taking my wife surfing in Fiji, so a new board would make the trip even more amazing. I’d also like more reservations through OpenTable. Full house, baby!”

What 8 Celebrity Chefs Want for Christmas

Marc Forgione, American Cut, New York, New York
“ I want the Chevy that Chief Brody drives in Jaws because it’s one of my favorite movies, and I always thought it was one of the coolest cars I’ve ever seen. However, I would paint mine black.”

What 8 Celebrity Chefs Want for the HolidaysContinue Reading

8 Delicious Days + Nights: Top Restaurants for Hanukkah 2015

From jelly donuts and savory brisket to crispy potato pancakes and crunchy fried artichokes, the culinary traditions behind Hanukkah are tempting enough to please any palate, whether you’re Jewish or not. Though not the best for those watching their waistlines (it’s customary to eat foods fried in oil or made with cheese), what else is a holiday but the chance to indulge? In anticipation of more than a week of delicious ways to celebrate the Festival of Lights December 6-14, here 8 top restaurants for Hanukkah 2015.

Oceana, New York, New York
Savory and sweet meet at Oceana, where the seafood palace will serve a special latke menu this year created by Executive Chef Ben Pollinger and Executive Pastry Chef Colleen Grapes. Pollinger’s take features an Oceana staple, smoked sablefish, with American caviar atop a sunchoke latke (otherwise known as the Jerusalem artichoke). Grapes’s turn is a sweet potato pancake with quince, concord jam, and crème fraiche. Each is paired with an appropriate spirit — Duval Leroy, Brut, NV, Champagne France for the sunchoke, and Dunham Cellars, Late Harvest Riesling Lewis Vineyard, Washington, to complement the sweet. Offered at the bar, the tasting menu is $22, with an additional $16 for the half-glass wine pairing. Book a table.

Oceana Top Restaurants for Hanukkah

Shaya, New Orleans, Louisiana
It’s no surprise that Shaya’s Hanukkah menu will be served family-style. “I love cooking every winter during Hanukkah because I get to celebrate the traditions of the holiday,” said chef Alon Shaya, “and all of the great winter produce Louisiana has to offer.” He’s brought Middle Eastern flavors to the gumbo capital of the world while paying homage to the modern evolution of food from his native Israel. Think apple salad, veal brisket schnitzel with Persian cherries, and sufganiyot donuts served with black-tahini gelato. No Hanukkah meal would be complete without latkes, of course, and Shaya’s trio is accompanied by smoked salmon, caramelized oxtail, and whipped feta. If you’re a strict traditionalist, fear not – although he “decided to get fancy with the latkes,” if you want applesauce or sour cream, don’t be afraid to ask your server! Book a table.

Shaya Top Restaurants for Hanukkah

AKASHA, Culver City, California
AKASHA is known for its fresh-juice cocktails, so it’s no surprise that chef Akasha Richmond’s Hanukkah menu features two: the Citrus, with vodka, grapefruit, lemon, tangerine, and agave; and the Vanilla Pear, with vanilla vodka, Asian pear, pear/rosemary elixir, and lemon. Vodka and latke pairings are all the rage at trendy Hanukkah parties, and potato pancakes also take the spotlight here, served alongside Akasha’s brisket entrée, and on a small-plate trio with trimmed with apple, salmon, and braised duck. Earthy and unctuous chicken liver, a Jewish staple (the Kosher version of French pate) rounds out the meal with crisp crostini and buttery challah. Book a table.

AKASHA top restaurants for hanukkah

Paola’s, New York, New York
New Yorkers can forgo the deli for delicacies at chef Paola Bottero’s trattoria, where the rich traditions of Roman Jews are honored in one of the Hanukkah dishes she serves annually: Carciofi alla Giudia. These twice-crisped baby artichokes take a bit of patience and time to prepare, but it’s well worth it. Many Jewish cooks believe the art of frying was perfected in the Roman ghetto where Jews were confined from the 16th through 19th centuries. No matter what customers order at Paola’s during Hanukkah, everyone is served complimentary sufganiyot jelly donuts, either at the table or to go. Book a table.

Paola's top restaurants for hanukkah

La Morra, Brookline, Massachusetts
All year long, La Morra regulars anticipate the Passover prezzo fisso, and this year owners Jennifer and Josh Ziskin have Hanukkah covered, too, with a $38.50 four-course meal featuring latkes, matzo ball soup, and executive chef Josh’s savory brisket. The husband and wife team (she’s the wine director) say their connection to the holiday shines through in the dining room. “Josh and I are both Jewish, so Hanukkah has always been important for us. Josh’s brisket, which has served many memories, came to him from his Nana, who is still with us at 101!,” said Jennifer. “Nana and Josh’s mom are both amazing cooks, and Josh definitely inherited his talent from them.” Even the year someone besides Josh cooked the brisket and created a fire in the kitchen’s hood — causing a short closure for repairs – can’t stop the Ziskins from serving this crowd favorite. “You would think the brisket would never appear on the menu again, but it is requested too often to keep it from our guests,” said Jennifer. “We just take extra safety measures!” Beyond the food, she is excited to offer an optional beverage pairing this year for Hanukkah, too. Book a table.

La Morra top restaurants for hanukkahContinue Reading

Give the Gift of Fine Dining on Cyber Monday

OT GiftsHappy Cyber Monday! As you shake off the turkey-tryptophan sleepiness and turn your attention to gifts for your loved ones, we invite you to give the gift of deliciousness with OpenTable Gifts on this click-and-gift day! Available in 30 cities across the nation and good at more than 2,000 restaurants, OpenTable Gifts are a great fit for anyone on your shopping list.

You can choose the restaurant and the amount or just select the amount you’d like to gift and let your lucky recipient pick which restaurant to redeem it at. It’s that easy!

Continue Reading

Treatful Restaurant Gift Certificates: The Perfect Gift for Your Favorite Foodie

Purchase a Treatful gift certificate to La Belle Vie in Minneapolis or choose from hundreds of other amazing restaurants!

There are officially LESS than two weeks until Christmas. Instead of waiting on line in a shop, shop online for a Treatful digital restaurant gift certificate!

With Treatful, you can treat your friends and family with personalized, online gift certificates to their favorite local restaurants, instantly and securely.

When you purchase a gift through Treatful, we notify the recipient of his or her gift on the date that you instruct us. At the same time, we notify the local restaurant of your gift purchase, so that they can expect your gift recipient as a future customer. Once your recipient receives the receives their Treatful email, she can print it out and give it to the restaurant upon use.

One of the best features of Treatful — and there are many amazing features — is that treats never expire. This allow recipients to enjoy your gift any time they choose!

Treatful is currently available in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

Purchase a Treatful today!