Live the Fantasy: 17 Chefs Share Their Dream Diners

As diners, we spend a lot of time thinking about the chefs whose cuisine is on our wish lists. But, what about chefs? Surely they have folks they’d like to see grace their dining rooms. In that spirit, then, 17 chefs share their dream diners, from artists and prominent businesspeople, such as Action Bronson and Richard Branson, to famous chefs, past and present, like Auguste Escoffier and José Andrés.

Tim Maslow, Ribelle, Brookline, Massachusetts: Lamont Coleman, a.k.a. Big L
“Not because I know if the man loved to eat or not, but because of the short-but-prolific career he had that so many of our cook-generation can identify with. I would want to thank him for making me feel like less of an outsider and that it’s permissible to blaze trails outside the norm.” “A hard core life I toast to ex flaw, therefore I live raw and went to war wit the law.” – Big L, “Bring ‘em Back”


Carl Schaubhut, Café Adelaide, New Orleans, Louisiana: Chef Jamie Shannon
“The late chef Jamie Shannon has rock-star status in my world. He changed the way cuisine in the great city of New Orleans was executed. He truly put haute Creole food on the map during his tenure at Commander’s Palace in the 90s, and I remember growing up and loving eating the food at such a wonderful, fun, exciting restaurant. He was also one of the earliest local television chef personalities that I recall. So much of his influence runs through the DNA of everyone who has cooked in Commander’s kitchen or has been taught by a chef that has been there. I’d love to prepare charred jalapeno-lacquered confit duck leg over a citrus-white bean puree with crispy Brussels sprouts, bread and butter pickled beets, bacon-onion jam, spiced New Roads pecans, wilted frisée, and duck crackling. It’s a very complex dish with layers of flavors that all harmonize into a beautiful celebration of a beloved Louisiana bird and great legumes and produce.”


Suzanne Tracht, Jar, Los Angeles, California: Peter Frampton
“My dream diner would be Peter Frampton. Just like JAR, Frampton is all about nostalgia and good times. You might not think of Peter Frampton every day, but when “Baby I Love Your Way” comes on the radio it’s like – BOOM! – the volume dial immediately goes to 10 (ed. note: or 11!), and you’re singing, “But don’t hesitay-ay-ay-ate….” Jar reminds people of a swinging Rat Pack steakhouse; Peter Frampton reminds my generation of the fun days of high school in the mid-70’s. Because Frampton is a strict vegetarian, and my restaurant is famous for its steaks, chops, and pot roast, you might wonder what I would cook for him. But the truth is I have so many ideas. Depending on the time of year, I would go to the farmer’s market to choose an array of the most beautiful in-season organic vegetables. I would compose a dish with some gnocchi and let my creative juices flow.”


Zach Meloy, Better Half, Atlanta, Georgia: Elvis Presley
“All of Presley’s food loves were completely over the top: fried chicken crusted in ground-up potato chips, Jell-O made with 7-Up, fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Hillbilly haute cuisine … seems like something that’d be fun for an evening. I’d imagine you’d leave with more than one amazing story.”


Tyler Kinnett, Harvest, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Chef Auguste Escoffier
“This might be a little out there into fantasy and time travel, but I would like to cook for Auguste Escoffier. The other day, Brian, the executive pastry chef at Harvest, and I were talking about Escoffier, who is sort of the father of modern cooking and is responsible for much of the technique that we use today. His recipes are ultra- complicated and have a scroll of an ingredient list involved. They are very time- consuming and technical, and many of the flavors are masked with 10 others, which back then was considered impressive. I would like to see what he would think of the simplified modern cuisine that we have today. Would he think we were hacks and simpletons? Or, would it make sense? I would serve him our summer tomato soup with a mini prosciutto-and-gruyere griddled cheese sandwich. Mainly because my recipe has about five ingredients and actually tastes like tomato.”


Jeremy Glover, Ceia Kitchen + Bar, Newburyport, Massachusetts: Lemmy Kilmister
“Lemmy Kilmister is pretty iconic in the metal world — he’s the lead singer in Motörhead. I think I’d serve him a pig head, roasted whole, no silverware, and a fifth of Jack Daniels– he likes Jack.”


Diane Kochilas, Molyvos, New York, New York: Bill Clinton/George Clooney/Tina Fey
“There are so many people I’d like to cook for, but here are a few that come to mind – Bill Clinton, because he’s vegan and Greek cooking (and our menu) has some of the most amazing, delicious vegan dishes in the world, which show off that perfectly incongruous Greek culinary characteristic of food that is both healthy and indulgent. Then there’s George Clooney, so I’d have the impetus to go on a diet before serving him! Lastly, Tina Fey because her maternal grandmother was Ikarian, and I would relish in serving her those Ikarian greens pies and telling her stories that might actually make HER laugh about the island and where her ancestors are from.”


Jon Oh, Scarpetta, New York, New York: Anyone who serves or has served in the armed forces
“These people deserve all the respect in the world. Their sacrifice is something that should never be taken for granted. In terms of dishes, I’d start off with the polenta with a fricassee of truffled mushrooms, then go into our spaghetti. For me, those two dishes are like a big, warm hug.”


Jay Murray, Grill 23 & Bar, Boston, Massachusetts: Dave Eggers
“As a once-aspiring writer, I am at least still an avid reader, and I can’t say enough good things about Dave Eggers. Two of his works – What is the What? and Zeitoun — are among my all time favorites; I devour anything out of McSweeney’s; and his two literary non-profits are visionary in how they successfully create opportunities for those who might never had them otherwise. I do know that Dave hails from a pre-Grill 23 Boston (hard to believe, but there was a time…), and spent most of his life between the Chicago and San Francisco Bay areas. So, what does that mean? Well, nothing, except that, I’m hoping he’s not some kind of non-meat eater; steak is probably a good bet. But, Chicago, you murmur. Sure, Chicago’s the land of Gene & Georgetti (great garbage salad, by the way), and Gibsons, and San Francisco has no shortage of amazing dining experiences. But neither has the 100-day aged Brandt prime rib eye. So, Dave, ship up to Boston, or just hop on a red-eye, and check this steak out! I’ll throw in some truffle tots and miso-glazed eggplant while you’re here, and you cannot miss Molly’s desserts.”


Troy Guard, TAG Restaurant, Denver, Colorado: Jon Bon Jovi
“My dream diner would be Jon Bon Jovi – I just think he’s the coolest! He came out in the 80s, and he’s still selling out 20,000 seats 30 years later. I love his music and how he’s changed over time – adapting his look, music, and songwriting. He’s innovative, he’s a family man (did you know he married his high-school sweetheart and has four kids?), he’s a smart businessman, he gives millions to charity, and he’s a big advocate in politics. He’s just the coolest guy. I would make him a menu of our bold and tasty dishes – oak-grilled octopus, heirloom tomato salad, hanger steak, and banana cream pie. We’d talk all night about business, politics, and rock n’ roll!”

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Trending on Recent OpenTable Restaurant Reviews: Heirloom Tomatoes

Green Zebra tomatoes are easy to grow -- and even easier to eat!

Tomato-eating season has started, bringing with it some of the yummiest heirloom varieties you’ll find — Black Krim, Green Zebra, Purple Cherokee, Valenica, oh my! Typically defined as open-pollinated tomato cultivars, heirloom tomatoes are known for being much more flavorful than standard-issue supermarket (blech!) tomatoes — and more beautiful. They do have their own limitations, of which I am reminded every year when we inevitably lose fruit or entire plants to dreadful sounding things like fusarium wilt. It’s worth mentioning that even if a tomato isn’t an heirloom, as long as it was grown locally with care by someone using organic techniques, it will probably be just as tasty as an heirloom (see Tomato, Ramapo). Here’s what OpenTable diners are saying about the crown jewels of summer produce in recent reviews.

900 Wall, Bend, Oregon: “Adored the heirloom tomato risotto. Still trying to figure out a way to have it Fed Exed to Milwaukee!”

Bridges Restaurant, Grasonville, Maryland: “Great spot for dining on the water! Views, fun decor (check out the wine bottle chandelier), and good food. Four arrived in time for happy hour in the bar and took advantage of the specials (incredible clams in a wonderful bread-dunking broth, a tasty heirloom tomato pizza, and excellent housemade hummus).”

Carolina’s Restaurant, Charleston, South Carolina: “Enjoyed a delicious dinner made with local ingredients from the arugula to the ‘pink’ snapper. All were beautifully presented with interesting food combinations. The lemon dressing highlighted the flavor of the arugula combined with the heirloom cherry tomatoes, okra, and small deep-fried circles of eggplant.”

Ecco, Atlanta, Georgia: ” I got the spaghetti with heirloom tomatoes; incredible and perfectly portioned.”

Il Piatto, Santa Fe, New Mexico: “Loved the squid ink pasta, heirloom tomato gazpacho, arugula salad with apples, and gorgonzola ravioli. Will definitely come back.”

Jaleo DC, Washington, D.C.: “Love Jaleo! We walked in and there was Chef Andrés himself at the front door. Had the heirloom tomato salad — don’t miss if it’s on the menu when you go.”

Jean Farris Winery & Bistro, Lexington, Kentucky: “The food is very fresh and flavorful. The heirloom tomato appetizer featured all tomatoes from their own garden with a variety of salts. Very memorable.”

Mas (farmhouse), New York, New York: “The yellowfin tuna appetizer is a winner as was the heirloom tomato tart.”

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Eight Dishes That Should Be 86’d; Caveman Cuisine; An iPhone As Dinner Date; Ellen and Lady Gaga to Open Eateries; Best New Restaurants in Canada

An OpenTable diner snapped this cellphone picture of the Geico cavemen dining at Sauvage in Berlin.

Dining and restaurant news…

* Give me liberty. The Liberty Tavern, that is. That’s where President Obama dined with four fortunate supporters last week. [Obama Foodorama]

* Your time is gonna come. And by come, the HuffPost foodies mean go, for these eight played-out dishes. [HuffPost Food]

* So easy a caveman could eat it! Food from the Paleolithic era is all the rage at a restaurant in Berlin. Bring your own club. [Daily Mail]

* In the foaming. Is molecular gastronomy hurting fine dining? I doubt it, but some people in D.C. seem to think it is. [NBC Washington]

* “And, my Blackberry will have….” You’re not dining alone if you have your smartphone. [Washington Post]

* And if you don’t have a smartphone? You can hire a dining companion, if you happen to be in Vegas. I haven’t spent a lot of time in Vegas, so maybe this isn’t as weird as it sounds? [Las Vegas Vegas]

* Somebody bring me some water. Apparently, it’s what most folks are drinking while dining out. [NY Daily News]

* The Art-ful Gaga. Lady Gaga’s father is set to open a new restaurant with Chef Art Smith (Art and Soul). Because of her aversion to the telephone, we’re hopeful it will be on OpenTable. [Delish]

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Printers as Chef; Chicago’s The Pump Room Returns; Restaurants Will Save Our Fish; Rayner Mad Over G9 Manifesto; Chef Sedlar Returns; Lakshmi Bores

Clearly, Padma should have suited up for The Moth.

Dining and restaurant news…

* Fishing for answers. Restaurants may hold the key to the sustainable seafood movement. [Forest Grove News Times]

* Meet chef Hewlett Packard. Printers can now make food. I’m not kidding. [SmartPlanet]

* Pump up the volume. Iconic Chicago restaurant The Pump Room is ready for its close up — and reservations! [Chicago Tribune]

* London calling. Wolfgang Puck and Gordon Ramsay answer, with new restaurants CUT 432 and Bread Street Kitchen, respectively. [Business Insider]

* Manifestos should be off the menu. Jay Rayner takes issue with and aim at the G9 chefs’ manifesto. [The Guardian]

* A call for clean cooking. Chef José Andrés (America Eats) joins the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. [Fox News Latino]

* Call it a comeback. Chef John Sedlar isn’t resting on the laurels of his past success, Saint Estèphe, as evidenced by Rivera and Playa. [LA Times]

* Pack your knives and go. Top Chef hostess Padma Lakshmi nearly bored the audience to tears at The Moth. [NY Post]

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