On Our Plate: Win Dinner for Two in the ‘My Foodie Valentine’ Giveaway; NYC Restaurant Week Continues; Reserve for Restaurant Weeks in Chicago, Minneapolis

We're getting hungry for Valentine's Day, thanks to this preview of the Valentine’s Heart dessert from Plein Sud in Manhattan, featuring strawberry bavaroise cake + crème anglaise.

Happenings on and around OpenTable this week…

* We’re so excited for Valentine’s Day that we’re giving away dinner for two! Enter the ‘My Foodie Valentine’ Giveaway to win one of five $200 gift cards being awarded all next week!. All it takes to enter to win is a picture of you and your fave foodie. Learn more.

* Speaking of valentines, we’re celebrating the winners of the 2012 Diners’ Choice Award winners for Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in the U.S. Congratulations to all the restaurants who are fanning the flames of desire for diners.

* Also, Valentine’s Day reservations are booking fast! Don’t miss your chance to score a great table for you and your sweetie. Reserve now!

* Restaurant weeks continue in metros across the U.S., including New York City, Toronto, Vancouver, and Washington, D.C.

* Reservations are now open for additional Winter Restaurant Weeks, such as Annapolis, Atlantic CityBuckhead, ChicagoDenver, Hudson ValleyLas Vegas, Minneapolis, Orange County, and Sonoma County.

* What’s the ideal number of dining companions? Share your thoughts in this week’s dining poll!

And, we’re still hiring! We’re staffing up and looking for talented people to join our team. Check out openings in engineeringfield operationsoperations, and sales.

Chef Ed Cotton Watches as Top Chef Crowns a Season 8 Winner

"Am I good enough and smart enough? Do people like me? Oh, yeah, I figured this out last week. I am, and they do! Whew!"

Oh, Top Chef…parting is such sweet sorrow. We’re glad that Richard Blais took the title, but we’re sad to see the season come to a close. Thanks to Ed Cotton for indulging our questions, serious and silly, along the way. And, on behalf of everyone at OpenTable, we’ve got a special good wishes for Ed. Plein Sud, the Manhattan restaurant at which he’s executive chef, is celebrating its one year anniversary. Stop into Plein Sud the week of April 25th to join in on the festivities.

Hey, Ed! Congratulations on year one! Quite an accomplishment. So, the finale’s final challenge tasks Blais and Isabella with opening their dream restos. That’s a tall order, but I imagine they had a good idea going in?

Every chef has planned out in his or her head what type of restaurant would be our “dream” to have one day.  They both looked like two great concepts.

They are yoked to a four-course tasting menu. Are the finalists wanting more courses or fewer? Is this format ideal?

In my opinion, four courses are easy to execute and allow a chef to really showcase what they can do. The format is ideal; it is the perfect amount of food. Multiple courses show exactly what you’re made of — and if you crack under pressure or not. Currently, I am in the process of creating a four-course tasting menu to celebrate my restaurant’s anniversary. If any OpenTable diners are in New York the week of April 25th, please join us for a celebration.

How about the CDO? Can the CDO come? Pretty please! Okay, so the whole cast shows up for sous jobs. Who DO you want as your sous and why?

I thought that it was very cool that the whole cast showed up and got to prepare something to determine who will be sous chefs and who won’t. I was nervous watching who was going to get whom! I would have wanted Carla, Jen Carol, and Angelo (Yes, I said it! Angelo!). Jen is an amazing chef and knows flavors; she is a master technician. Angelo also has a lot of experience and has a great palate. I’d want Carla because she has some good pastry skills. I think that would be a winning team.

Continue Reading

Who Failed This Week’s Top Chef Test? Chef Ed Cotton Walks Us Through the Ep

Dear Padma. We get it. You're hot. You can stop trying so hard now. Signed, Management.

With just two eps left, Top Chef is getting more and more contentious. Chef Ed Cotton of  Manhattan’s Plein Sud reflects on this week’s challenges and eliminations and looks ahead to what’s in store for the competitors.

When someone exits, how hard is that for their co-competitors, emotionally and missing their presence in the apt? How long is it between challenges?

I never found it that hard on me or got emotional at all when people were sent home. Sure, you miss people, but you can’t forget that it’s a competition, and you’re not there to make friends. Challenges happen every single day; it is very demanding and long hours.

The QFC asks competitors to replicate a dish. Can you talk about how this might be tough if you haven’t actually tested something? And, at Plein Sud, can I assume your new dishes are tested and re-executed for just this very purpose?

The ability to replicate a dish is extremely important. At my restaurant, it is all about consistency and that is exactly what Richard said. You want a person to come back to your restaurant because they love the Cassoulet, Steak Tartare or whatever dish might be their favorite.  Yes, all our new dishes are tested for consistency and flavors and I am currently in the process of doing that for our spring menu. For breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, our guests dine at Plein Sud because the food is consistent.

Regarding the QFC, is a cold dish a cop out?

I didn’t think a cold dish is a cop out – anything is fair game. It was not specified whether the dish should be hot or cold; it just needed to be consistent. Tiffany and Antonia made consistent-tasting dishes that the judges praised.

Continue Reading

Ed Cotton Talks Top Chef: Fryer Fires, Pork Sashimi + Kenny Gilbert Grudge Match

Former model Carla Hall makes this isla muy bonita!

Tick tock. Tick tock. The clock is winding down in this season of Top Chef. We talked to Plein Sud Executive Chef (and former Top Chef finalist) Ed Cotton once again about all the goings on in last week’s episode of everyone’s favorite cooking competition.

Ed, in a QFC such as this, who would you most want to face off against one more time from your season? Also, Tiffany’s got Kevin! Whoa!

I would love to up against Kenny Gilbert! He was a beast in the kitchen and went home too soon on our season. Really, he was a threat to us all.

Continue Reading