Top Chef Just Desserts Season 2 Finale: Michael Laiskonis on MOFs and Motifs

Michael Laiskonis is moving on from Le Bernardin -- but, thankfully, not from our blog!

We’ve come to the finale of this season of Top Chef Just Desserts. In keeping with tradition, Michael Laiskonis, Executive Pastry Chef at Le Bernardin, helps us navigate the sweet and lowdown.

Is the restaurant pastry chef the underdog here?

I think there is some truth to that- it depends on how well-rounded a pastry chef’s training is. For those whose experience is limited restaurants, showpiece work and entremets just don’t factor into the daily repertoire. Yet the same fundamental skills apply across the board. One has to continually push themselves into those uncharted territories; while I never have the need for showpieces, I will occasionally play around just to feel that more well-rounded.

How lovely that these MOFs are not only here but they are really jumping in! Doing prep work! Doing dishes! What does this say about the reality of the kitchen, as opposed to the fantasy that some cooking/food shows have created?

I have to say, the opening fifteen minutes of this episode may count as my favorite part of the whole season! I love the concentration and the attention to detail these guys bring to the kitchen; as intimidating as that stare may be, it is an empathetic one. Add to that the fact they were so hands-on, and it underscores what I really took away from last year’s Kings of Pastry documentary- the strong sense of community, even in the face of competition. No one wants anyone else to fail; everyone looks better when all are able to do their best. I find that camaraderie very inspiring.

The Eliminated Chefs return. Are there a couple of cheftestants you might gravitate toward for one skill or the other?

There were a few chefs throughout the season that, to me, really showed they could get down to business like some dependable workhorse: Amanda, Megan, and Carlos for sure. I get that everyone (well, maybe with the exception of Chris) was hoping to capaitalize on Orlando’s chocolate skills. It’s all a slippery slope. In a restaurant kitchen, we benefit from individuals taking ownership of particular tasks. In a competition, however, delegation is much tougher.Continue Reading

On Our Plate This Week: Restaurant Weeks Around the Nation; The Dinner Party to End All Dinner Parties Giveaway; Ludo Bites America Premieres

Here’s what’s happening on and around OpenTable this week…

* Tickets are on sale for the Miami Spice Kickoff Event & Fundraiser on Thursday, July 28th. Buy tickets today!

* “The Dinner Party to End All Dinner Parties” UrbanDaddy/OpenTable giveaway ends tomorrow. Enter now.

* “Ludo Bites America” premieres Tuesday night on the Sundance Channel. Can’t wait ’til then? Watch it here.

Unlike this picture, our plate is anything but empty this week...

* Restaurant weeks going on now include Bethesda-Chevy Chase Restaurant Week, Taste of Burlington, Queens Feast Charlotte Restaurant Week, Cleveland Summer in the City, Restaurant Week Columbus, NYC Restaurant Week, Providence Restaurant Weeks, South Jersey Farm to Fork Week, and Toronto Summerlicious.

* Reservations are now open for Baltimore Restaurant Week, Restaurant Week Boston, COOLinary in NOLA, Dallas-Fort Worth KRLD Restaurant Week, D.C. Restaurant WeekHudson Restaurant WeekMiami Spice, and SF Chefs Restaurant Week.

* Stay tuned for another week of Spotlight offers, an interview with New York Restaurant State Restaurant Association’s Andrew Rigie on how the letter-grade system for restaurant inspections is bad for business, and more restaurant news you can use.

Foodspotting: Does Foodie Photography Make You Lose Your Appetite?

The Getty Museum in Los Angeles has kicked off its new (pre-digital) food photography exhibit called “In Focus: Tasteful Pictures” around the same time that everyone is talking about the rise of diners obsessively photographing their food; some are even videotaping their dining experiences. Chefs, beyond Grant Achatz, and including Ludo Lefebvre, are getting upset that food isn’t being enjoyed at the proper temperature — and that the photography is slowing down service.

Do you photograph your food when dining out? Are you irritated when others do so? Is videography taking the documentary portion of dining out too far? Tell us what you think here or on Facebook.