Top Chef D.C. Episode 14: Return of the Jedi

I can’t believe it’s over, but it is. The finale is here! Tuning in with me for the final showdown is still-aspiring cheftestant (Are you listening, Bravo?) Ed Hardy.

"I only wish I could've held the title for more than a few months. Jeez!"

Okay, Ed. It is on. The final EC. And the final three are charged with creating a four-course meal of the most amazing food ever! I’m not sure what that even means anymore. If you were charged with socking it to Seetoh, which former winner would you want as your sous? Hung? The Volt? Ilan?

I want Michael Volt. He’s the assistant most likely to be able to offer me a couple different perspectives on how I might change a dish or the plating of a dish our possibly just change the garnish of a dish. If I’m sick in bed, oddly enough, I do want Hung. If I’m sick in the head, I want Ilan. Call me a playa hater, but I’ve never been that impressed with him.

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Chef Watch: José Andrés Gets a Prize; The Obamas’ Favorite Chef; Michael Mina’s New Venture, and More

* José Andrés (The Bazaar by José Andrés) will receive the 2010 grand prize from the Vilcek Foundation, “which annually honors the contributions of foreign-born Americans in the areas of art, culture and science” on April 7th at the Mandarin Oriental in New York. [Washington Post]

* Restaurateur Donatella Arpaia (Mia Donna) can cook. No, really. She’s got a book coming out and everything. [The New York Times]

* Dan Barber (Blue Hill at Stone Barns) discusses sustainable fish at TED. [Daily Blender]

* Mario Batali (Lupa) and Emeril Lagasse (Emeril’s Restaurant) dined at The Publican. [Grub Street Chicago]

* The POTUS is a foodie, and Chicago chef Rick Bayless (Topolobampo) is one of his faves. [The Guardian]

* “No Reservations” Anthony Bourdain (Les Halles) dishes on his latest pursuits to Jennifer Heigl. [Daily Blender]

* Washington, D.C. chefs Mike Isabella (Zaytinya), Art Smith (Art and Soul) , and Bryan Voltaggio (VOLT) work hard to extend their “Top Chef” fame. [Washington Business Journal]

* Chef Michael Mina is set to take over Aqua, where he first made a splash years ago. [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Chef Michael Psilakis (Kefi) has ended his association with Anthos in Manhattan and is rumored to be looking to open another restaurant in Brooklyn. [The New York Times]

* Reality-TV star/chef Gordon Ramsay (Gordon Ramsay) at Boka in Chicago [Grub Street Chicago]

* “Top Chef” season 6 winner Michael Voltaggio, chef de cuisine at The Dining Room at The Langham, talks about his future and what he plans to do with his prize money. [Food & Wine]

* Hoss Zaré (Zare at Fly Trap) is preparing a feast for the Persian New Year, which begins on March 20. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Top 50 Restaurants with the Best Service: Diners’ Choice Awards 2010

Top-50-Restaurants-with-Best-ServiceEveryone at OpenTable values superior service when dining out, so we are thrilled to announce the 50 restaurant winners of OpenTable’s 2010 Diners’ Choice Awards for Best Service. Derived from nearly four million reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for more than 10,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, this list consists of restaurants where service is a centerpiece of your dining experience.

Great service means more than keeping a diner’s water glass filled. A professional wait staffer shepherds you through your meal, making sure that every moment is pleasurable. The best service appears effortless and unobtrusive, when, in fact, it is carefully orchestrated and requires much training and skill.

Congratulations to all the winners, which include Acquerello in San Francisco, Canlis in Seattle, Daniel in New York, and The Dining Room at the Langham in Pasadena (where “Top Chef” season 6 winner Michael Voltaggio cooks), The French Laundry in Yountville,  TRU in Chicago, and Vetri in Philadelphia.

Have you dined at or worked at any of the winning establishments? Share your experiences with these service standouts and other amazing dining experiences here or on our Facebook page.

Chef Watch: Michael Voltaggio Cooks and Tells; New York Post Has a Beef with Alain Ducasse; Norman Van Aken Opens His Recipe Book; The World’s Most Influential Chef; Charlie Trotter’s New Hire, and More

Chefs making food and headlines…

•    Michael Voltaggaio, winner of season 6 of “Top Chef” shows football fans how to have a very molecular gastronomic Super Bowl party. Does that mean deconstructed nachos? [Los Angeles Times]

•    Speaking of Chef Voltaggio, who is chef de cuisine at The Dining Room at The Langham, he answers questions about his post-TC life. [Orange County Register]

•    Jose Garces, whose Philadelphia restaurant empire includes Amada, Chifa, Distrito, and Tinto, reveals what’s inspiring him lately. [The Daily Beast]

•    Charlie Trotter hires visually impaired chef Laura Martinez to join his kitchen at Charlie Trotter’s. [Grub Street Chicago]

•    If Chicago’s Graham Elliot Bowles’s food at Graham Elliot were an album, it would be Feed the Animals by Girl Talk. At least this week, anyway. [Time Out Chicago]

•    Meet the U.K’s own Fergus Henderson of St. John restaurant in London. He’s also the world’s most influential chef. No, really. [Men’s Health]

•    Chef Norman Van Aken shares some of his signature recipes from Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando, but it’s probably just easier to go ahead and let him make them for us at his eponymous restaurant. [The Daily Beast]

•    Thomas Keller (Ad Hoc, Bouchon, Bouchon – Beverly Hills, The French Laundry, Per Se) loses his right-hand man. As long as it’s not his right hand. [San Francisco Chronicle]

•    Restaurant critic Steve Cuozzo of the New York Post has a bone to pick with Alain Ducasse (Adour Alain Ducasse at The St. Regis New York, Benoit New York) over his recent comments about the New York restaurant scene. Call me a coward, but it’s probably not all that wise to start a beef with anyone who wields knives for a living. [New York Post]