On Our Plate This Week: TIME Touts Our iPhone App; Dine Out for No Kid Hungry Enrollment; Restaurant Weeks Continue in Vegas, Miami + Orlando

Josh Ozersky thinks our app is fit for foodies!

Happenings on and around OpenTable this week…

* Thanks to Josh Ozersky and TIME for naming our app one of its 10 great iPhone apps for foodies.

* Restaurants can help end childhood hunger by signing up to join the Share Our Strength Dine Out for No Kid Hungry campaign taking place September 18-24, 2011. Register here!

* Restaurant Weeks happening this week include Las Vegas Restaurant WeekMiami Spice, and Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month.

* Looking ahead, reservations are now open for additional restaurant weeks, including Center City District Restaurant WeekLouisiana Seafood Restaurant WeekMain Line Restaurant Week, and San Diego Restaurant Week.

* Have you found out what type of diner you are? What are you waiting for? Take our quick quiz and stop wondering!

* Le Bernardin will reopen on Friday after an extensive and impressive renovation.

* Meet the winner of Jo’s 2nd Annual Labor Day Pancake Eating contest!

Top Chef Just Desserts Season 2, Episode 2: Michael Laiskonis Is Back from Bogota

Would you smile if your cake looked this? Me neither!

As promised, Michael Laiskonis, Executive Pastry Chef at Le Bernardin, returns to share his insights on the second season of Top Chef: Just Desserts!

Michael, you were traveling last week and barely made it back to NYC this week, due to Hurricane Irene. We’re glad you’re here safely. Did you enjoy any fortuitous culinary detours as you tried to make your way back home in the aftermath?

Not so much, as we decided to plow through all the way to New York as quickly as possible. My sous chef and I were cooking as part of a food and wine festival in Bogota Colombia; Matt Hoyle, chef of Nobu 57 and his sous chef were in the same situation, finding ourselves stuck Miami. We decided to drive; I’d say the most notable culinary experience was a simple, but mighty fine breakfast in Dunn, North Carolina.

I know you’ve caught up on the premiere, so let’s touch on some of the contenders. I think Orlando is sure to be this season’s love-hate contestant. He’s obviously EXTREMELY talented, but the editing is setting him up to be Mr. Not-So-Nice-Guy. Who else among this group is one (or are ones) to watch? Chris?

Clever editing made me think Rebecca would be packing her whisk after she injured her wrist.

I know Chris personally, and I know he’s got the skills to go all the way. I think Sally, Amanda, and Matt are also the chefs to watch, as well as Orlando. But, as we’ve learned from every series or iteration of the show, there are quiet dark horses, and seemingly simple challenges can trip up the best of talents.

Last last-week question: I was not at all shocked at Lena’s departure. As soon as she mentioned something about having won Best Cupcake of Seattle or somewhere, I figured she was dead in the water. Thoughts?

Ah yes, I think it was Austin. Having been in their position, I’m sure the judges based their decision solely on the merit of the showpiece and desserts produced. But definitely, humility is important; it’s not what you’ve done, but what you’ll do next.

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Top Chef Just Desserts: Chef Michael Laiskonis Looks Back and Ahead

Would Chef Laiskonis ever participate in Top Chef Just Desserts Masters? We’ll ask him next week!

Le Bernardin‘s Executive Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis will be joining OpenTable to report on the second season of Top Chef Just Desserts. He’s out of town for the premiere, but will be with us next week until the finale. Meanwhile, he shared his thoughts on last season and what’s to come.

“The second season of Top Chef: Just Desserts debuted last ight, and once again I’ll be reporting with an armchair perspective following each week’s episode. Before the action begins, perhaps we can quickly recap last season’s drama, as well as predict what we might see as the current season unfolds!

The inaugural group of pastry chefs ran a gauntlet of tough challenges, from wedding cakes to edible fashion pieces, ‘savory’ desserts to humble bakesale items. A few contestants saw highs and lows, but through it all, the very talented Yigit Pura emerged the victor. In the end, I think the series shed a rare spotlight on the inner workings of the sweet kitchen; I can’t wait to see more of the same this time around!

From what I’ve seen and heard of this season’s roster, the competition should just as fierce. I’m betting the bar will be raised, with a higher degree of difficulty; as was the case last season, I’m betting the challengers won’t have the luxury of working from written recipes. The judges, too, will be heavy hitters, and rank among the industry’s finest.

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Top Chef Season 8 Episode 7: Now With The Daily Sip’s Eric Arnold for Extra Flavor

"Somebody get a sponge."

This week, OT’s usual commentators on the most recent edition of Top Chef — Caroline Potter and Ed Cotton — are both out of town. So I’ve been asked to step in and take over for the next two weeks. Normally, I’m the editor of The Daily Sip, a free, wine-centric e-newsletter; and you can usually find me waxing about the wines of New Zealand–and other booze-related topics–herehere, and here.

Each season of Top Chef, we’re expected to look forward to Restaurant Wars, when the remaining contestants are split into two groups that square off in a battle of pop-up restaurants. It’s also usually the episode in which an otherwise strong contestant is shown the door because he or she ran the front of the house like it’s the DMV.

Some Restaurant Wars battles have been better than others, and this one, unfortunately, belongs in the scrap heap. For starters, the contestants weren’t put under nearly as much pressure as in previous seasons: No shopping for flatware, dishware, curtains or scented candles — just cooking. While one could argue that this levels the playing field, it really didn’t last night because someone still had to run the front of the house and, potentially, sacrifice food quality. And truth be told, last night’s Top Chef proved beyond doubt that the contestants will make or break themselves in the kitchen all on their own, no matter the challenge. So why not just keep them all in the kitchen?

Nevertheless, therein lies Top Chef‘s strength as a series: It’s the little things, from sliced fingers to stolen fishes to drunken kisses, that evoke an emotional response from viewers one minute to the next. I had plenty last night, in fact. Here they are, in order from last night:

* Ah, the brief recap — and yes, what fond memories we have of Jamie finally being sent packing last week. Oh, snap: Tonight’s episode starts at Le Bernadin?! Oh man, what I’d have given to see her survive another week and return to the scene of her braised-celery crime. Oh well.

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