10 Raves for Chili on National Chili Day

Texas Red Chili BlogYippee ki-yay, It’s National Chili Day! I like to think of chili as a relative of cassoulet, a dish which sparks as much debate among French chefs and home cooks as chili does among pretty much everyone in North America. Blame the various styles, such as green chili, Texas red, and Cincinnati, as well as the array of so-called ingredients people swear by, from coffee, chocolate, and peanut butter to beer,  pickle juice, and sriracha for the culinary quarrels — not to mention the beans vs. no beans issue. However it’s prepared, though, chili is beloved on a national scale. Despite its reputation as a cornerstone of summer cook-offs, chili reaches its highest greatest popularity in the winter months, according to Google Trends.

As we celebrate this soul-warming dish on its special day, read on for some raves about chili of all flavors and styles at restaurants around the U.S.

* American Cut, New York, New York: “Some of the highlights were lobster chili — spicy, sweet-flavored lobster. Had to resist eating the rest of the sauce with toast to save room for the rest of the meal.”

* Beatrice & Woodsley, Denver, Colorado: “Everything I had was superb — kudos to the chef! The pulled pork green chili was excellent; who knew that a pickled egg would add so much flavor? A new addition to my recipe.”

* Chili U, Libertyville, Illinois: “Despite the name, this place has a lot of non-chili items, and several very flavorful vegetarian choices. We love the idea of ‘build your own’ chili dinner (you choose the extra ingredients for the base and toppings to be added to 4 choices of chili) and the unique chili recipes in the ‘we make’ part of the menu, especially the Thai shrimp chili.”

* District Commons, Washington, D.C.: “The Texas chili was true Texas chili without beans. The side plates of onion, sour cream, and cheese made it possible to tailor the add-ons to your liking. The tiny star-shaped cornbread was creative and visually delightful.”

* Food 101, Atlanta, Georgia: “If you get a chance to go while the restaurant is celebrating its 15-year anniversary, be sure to try the prix fixe menu. My companion did and she was treated to a lovely short rib chili topped with cilantro cream, not to mention fall-off-the-bone ribs. And, I can’t end without mentioning the perfectly portioned, delicious biscuits and slightly sweet cornbread. I’ll be going back!”

* Grillstone, Scotch Plains, New Jersey: “The oysters were excellent. The sushi appetizer was phenomenal. The Angus chili was mesmerizing.”

* Kenny’s Smoke House, Plano, Texas: “Wow!! The brisket chili and jalapeño cornbread are amazing. Might have just ruined chili any other way for me.”Continue Reading

OpenTable and Facebook: Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together

Enrich your OpenTable experience with Facebook Connect.

You’ve probably noticed that, like OpenTableyour Facebook interface has a new look. To celebrate these mini-makeovers, OpenTable now allows you to bring the fun of Facebook with you when you’re making restaurant reservations. With Facebook Connect, you can sign in to Facebook and OpenTable with just a single click. You can also create an OpenTable account by clicking” Connect” and creating a password for your OpenTable account.

A natural fit because dining is such a social activity, Facebook Connect allows you and your friends to share what you’re doing on OpenTable. You can see who’s connected and which friends like which restaurants via the “Like” button.

And, stay tuned for the ability to read your Facebook friends’ reviews, comments, and, with permission, their reservations! For example, when you go to a restaurant’s profile page, such as Marc Forgione, you’ll be able to see which of your friends have shared reviews of that restaurant.

Facebook Connect works with OpenTable in the same way it does with other connected accounts. You control your privacy settings and can amend them at any time. You can also remove the OpenTable Connect application from your Facebook account with a click.

You can read more about Facebook Connect here.

In the meantime, we invite you to try out Facebook Connect on OpenTable for a more communal dining experience.

The Next Iron Chef Finale: Newest Iron Chef Marc Forgione Reflects on His Win

"It's insane, this club that I just got accepted into. It's an absolute honor. You're one of the faces of this industry that I love." — Iron Chef Forgione

We’ve been following his every move for weeks, so we were so pleased to see the talented Marc Forgione claim the title of Iron Chef! Chef Forgione — or, ahem — Iron Chef Forgione talked to us about the last episode, his judges and co-competitors, and the first Thanksgiving.

Marc, it’s neat that you brought up your dad. First, his ‘American Place’ cookbook is, literally, prominently displayed in my home. BUT…I actually think of you absolutely discretely from him. Have you ever felt that you’ve cooked in his shadow?

Throughout my entire life, no matter where I have worked or who I have worked for, I have always heard the comment, “I heard you are Larry’s kid.” Most people would think that this puts me at an advantage, but that could not be farther from the truth. Every time I would slip up, I would have to hear a barage of questions, comparing me to him: “Would your father serve that? Would your father eat that?” and so on.  Having said that, I obviously respect my father immensely and everything he has done for the restaurant business.  I can only hope that one day they will be asking my son the same exact questions.

Bobby Flay and Morimoto are sitting in judgment. What are you thinking in terms of cooking for these two chefs?

Bobby Flay and Morimoto are legends in this business and cooking for the two of them definitely ups the ante for the task at hand. Morimoto commented during my first few dishes that he thought some things were salty – that definitely got me nervous.  I loved hearing Bobby’s feedback throughout my courses. He was not just tasting the food but was truly judging everything that was going on throughout the battle. He broke down every single aspect of the dishes I put in front of him, and I valued all of his insights.

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The Next Iron Chef Episode 7: The Last Seduction Starring Chef Marc Forgione

"Charlotte Voisey is this very attractive master mixologist. This is a seduction challenge, so I'm glad I'm not just cooking for Canora and Chef Tsai." — Chef Forgione

Last night’s episode of The Next Iron Chef was all about seduction — and elimination as two of the final four were sent packing. Chef Marc Forgione takes us behind the scenes on how he survived to cook in Kitchen Stadium next week.

First, do you always cook in black? And, did you always wear black — or not until you were in charge?

Pretty straight-forward answer to this question: Black is my favorite color. I have been wearing black chef coats ever since I had my own restaurant. I have even instilled my color preference onto my staff — we all wear black in my kitchen. It has become a signature style choice at the restaurant!

This show has been very challenging, obviously. Can you name another time in your career that you were under as much pressure to prove yourself?

I have faced different kinds of pressure ever since I became a chef and started my career in the restaurant industry. Opening a restaurant with your name on the front door creates more pressure than most would choose to deal with. However, the emotions that I endured throughout filming, both mentally and physically, were unlike any others I have ever felt. They were all-consuming and challenged my very nature as a chef. I think I mentioned on the show that the entire process felt like a science project. As contestants, we were being experimented on to see how much the human body and mind could actually endure.Continue Reading