Vail Chef Kelly Liken Sounds off on Valentine’s Day, Sexy Veggies, and PDA

Chef Kelly Liken can make any dish sexy -- except for meatloaf. But only because no one can make meatloaf sexy.

If you’re a true foodie, you’ve probably dined at Kelly Liken restaurant in Vail, Colorado. And, if you’re like us, you’ve probably rooted for her on season 7 of Top Chef. So, we were thrilled when Chef Liken agreed to take the OpenTable R.Q., or Romantic Quotient, Test, and share her insights on sexy and not-so-sexy foods, the dish she made the night she got engaged, and how you can make your next meal at Kelly Liken extra special. 

Do you believe that food and drink can act as aphrodisiacs?

Absolutely! I’m not so sure about the science behind certain foods, but the act of sharing food with a loved one? That is sexy!

Aphrodisiacs aside, what do you consider to be some of sexiest dishes?

I definitely think spicy food can be really sexy! There’s something about the pain and pleasure all at the same time, plus it gets the blood moving. There’s nothing like oysters on the half shell, though I’m not sure exactly why, but they’re fun and interactive. I think also it’s about treating yourself to something expensive, so that‘s why you see a lot of caviar going out the door [on Valentine’s Day]. Because you don’t let yourself have something like that every day. In thinking about the meal as a whole, I don’t find really heavy, fatty foods really sexy. Lighter and brighter is sexier. You don’t want to go home feeling sick to your stomach!

Are there any foods that strike you as particularly unromantic or unsexy?

Well, I hate meatloaf. I’m sure for some people it could be sexy, but I kinda can’t think of a food I like less than meatloaf. Ever since I was a kid, I haven’t liked it. It’s a texture thing. It’s not appealing. It’s not pretty.

Can veggies be sexy?

Everyone calls me the crazy veggie lady! I start my foods with what is growing around me, and I find nothing sexier than a perfectly cooked vegetable. Vegetables are how we bring color, sweetness, texture, and tanginess to a plate. And, when you’re thinking about the whole plate and how to evoke emotion, vegetables are just so much more versatile in helping to achieve that. Also, how many people do you know that order a dish off the menu solely because of what comes with the dish?

Guilty as charged. Have you ever wooed a love interest with a particular dish or drink? What was it?

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Chefs + Restaurateurs Share Sexy Recipes for Romance on Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day, OpenTable diners. In honor of Cupid and his bow, we polled chefs and restaurateurs about their picks for the most sensual dishes they would serve to put diners in the mood on this most romantic day. Check out our exclusive video with advice from Manhattan’s Zac Young (Flex Mussels), Derek Koch (MPD), Manuel Trevino (Lavo), Maximo Lopez (Wall & Water), and Johnny Santiago and Jim Chu (Jo’s).

Other chefs around the U.S. also weighed in…

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Chefs and Restaurateurs Share Five Favorite Mobile Apps

Everyone at OpenTable is pretty proud of our mobile apps, but we also love lots of other apps (except for Angry Birds — or is that just me?). We reached out to a few of our restaurant partners and chefs and asked them to share the apps they find most appetizing.

Epicurious: Chef Michael Mina, the creative force behind such well-respected restaurants as Bourbon Steak and XIV, picks this recipe-oriented app. “Epicurious for iPad is a neat application for the home cook and it is organized nicely,” he notes.

Pulse: Former Top Chef competitor Kelly Liken, whose eponymous restaurant in Vail has earned rave reviews, likes Pulse “for reading the news I want to read. I have Eater, GrubStreet, and The New York Times Dining & Wine section all loaded in my feed!”

Shazam: Restaurateur and man about town Johnny Santiago, who, along with Jim Chu, runs Jo’s in Manhattan’s Nolita neighborhood, counts on Shazam to help set the mood at his establishment. Santiago reveals, “I’m always thinking about playlists for the restaurant. Whenever I hear something great or that I’ve forgotten, I Shazam it and save it to a list of songs that make the ‘must add’ list.”

Twitter: Everybody’s favorite personality on Top Chef Just Desserts (Sorry, Yigit!), Zac Young is currently flexing his muscles as Executive Pastry Chef for the two Flex Mussels restaurants (downtown and uptown) in New York City. He says, “My favorite mobile app right now is Twitter. I finally figured out how to use it, and I’m kind of #obsessed.” PS: Follow Zac!

Units: Ryan Hardy, the busy Executive Chef at the elegant Montagna at The Little Nell in Aspen says, “Chefs are constantly converting units – liters, centigrade, grams, etc. The Units app is in use every day on my phone.”

What are you favorite apps – food-related and otherwise? Join the conversation here or on Facebook.

Top Chef D.C. Episode One: Find Out Who Are the Standouts

Photo: David Giesbrecht/Bravo
Photo: David Giesbrecht/Bravo

The first episode of Season 7 of “Top Chef” opens in Washington, D.C. with the lovely Padma Lakshmi calling the nation’s capital “the city of idealists, visionaries and ruthless powerseekers,” and you can’t help but wonder if she’s talking about the town or the new cast. This batch of hopefuls includes the usual suspects: The Award Winner (Andrea Curto-Randazzo), The Big Deal (Kelly Liken),  The Caterer (Jacqueline Lombard), The Dad (Stephen Hopcraft), The European (Alex Reznik), The Good Guy (Kevin Srbaga), The Hottie (Amanda Baumgarten), The Kid (Tamesha Warren), The Personality (Arnold Myint), The Quiet Threat (Tiffany Derry), The Sad Story (Timothy Dean), The Sass (Tracey Bloom), The Terminator (Kenny Gilbert), The Underdog (Ed Cotton),  and some welcome new additions — The Instructor (Lynne Gigliotti), The Michelin Star (Angelo Sosa), and The Oddball (John Somerville — Sorry!).

The Quickfire Challenge isn’t anything groundbreaking, just another mis en place tournament that we’ve seen before. The chefs have to peel potatoes, brunoise onions, break down raw whole chickens into 8 pieces, and then cook a dish with these and other ingredients. The slowest chefs will be weeded out at each leg so that only four remain for the cooking portion. What’s really interesting isn’t the $20,000 at stake (which has Jersey Boy and aspiring homemaker Kevin drooling) but rather that most of the cheftestants clearly didn’t bother to brush up on the basics after they were cast. This kind of challenge is classic TC yet so many of these chefs struggle. Given, they have to peel potatoes with a paring knife and not a speedy peeler, but still.

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