Lunch Break: Meet OpenTable Employee Brooks Hassig

Brooks Hassig headshot-medAt OpenTable, we’re always searching for ways to improve the dining experience for guests and restaurants alike. One of our biggest accomplishments in that area is OpenTable mobile payments. Brooks Hassig is part of the team that works on this feature that lets diners settle their checks with just a few taps. He hails from Seattle and Motor City, likes to drink some of his meals (in the healthful way, of course), and he’s a sucker for a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Read on to meet OpenTable employee Brooks Hassig, learn about his picks for local food and drink, and discover what he’s digging into during his work day in today’s Lunch Break. 

Name: Brooks Hassig

Hometown: Seattle and Detroit

Job Title: Senior Experience Designer

What that means that I do at OpenTable: I help diners pay with their phones.

Years at OpenTable: 0.8  Alma mater: Western Washington University

I have not worked in a restaurant. (But I do like to eat at ’em!)

The food I can’t live without: PB+J sandwiches — I’m a simple man.

The one food I’ll never try: Hákarl — so gross!

My go-to drink or cocktail: Bundaberg Ginger Beer

The delicious dessert I refuse to share: Get your hands off my carrot cake.

My favorite thing about dining out is: Food/service/clean up

If pizza!!!!!!!! is on a restaurant’s menu, I almost always order it.

My last best restaurant meal was at: Le Sain Bol in Montreal

The restaurant I am a regular at: Samovar-Yerba Buena + Castro locationsContinue Reading

National Fried Chicken Day: Tasty Takes on an American Favorite

Hamburgers, shmamburgers. We’re saying it: Fried chicken is now our national dish! From its humble origins in Scotland, where, according to the book Advances in Deep-Fat Frying of Foods, edited by Servet Gulum Sumnu and Serpil Sahin, the Scots prepared chicken fried without the spices we’ve come to associate with it today, to its evolution at the hands of African slaves who added in savory seasonings, it has been enjoying a renaissance in restaurants around the nation for the past several years.

As far back as 1938 (and even farther we’d venture to say), The New York Times was documenting the kerfuffle over the proper way to make fried chicken, debating the virtues of bona fide Southern fried chicken over that of recipes created by cooks in the north. Now this is not to say that we’re not interested in the authenticity of recipes, but what matters most to us is flavor. And flavor comes in many forms, from preparations classic and close to home to those exotic and international. In that spirit, then, and in honor of National Fried Chicken Day, we’ve rounded up tasty takes on an American favorite, featuring influences near and far.

Fried Chicken Basket, Blue Smoke, New York, New York
Inspired by his childhood in Louisiana, executive chef Jean-Paul Bourgeois added his own extra-crispy fried chicken recipe to the menu when he joined the restaurant in 2014. To achieve maximum crispiness, he employs a special “double dunk” process. Available mild or coated with spicy honey, each order comes with hot, buttery, house-baked biscuits glazed with a touch of honey and topped with flakes of salt and is served with a vessel of Steen’s cane syrup, a Louisiana product rarely seen this far north. [Photo credit: Melissa Horn]

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Thursday’s Southern Fried Chicken, BOA Steakhouse, Santa Monica, California
Executive chef Jose Melendez recently revamped the sexy steakhouse’s lunch menu to include a number of new daily specials, including Thursday’s Southern Fried Chicken. Tear into three pieces of white and dark meat along with must-have sides of coleslaw, potato salad, and spicy hot sauce – and make Friday jealous.

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Lou Dogg’s Crispy Skin Chicken, E.P. + L.P., West Hollywood, California
At this newly opened, multi-level modern Asian eatery in the city of angels, guests can dig in to chef Louis Tikaram’s “Lou Dogg’s Crispy Skin Chicken” – half a Mary’s Farm chicken with black vinegar, chili, and lemon. Australia’s 2014 Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of the Year, Tikaram — and his delicious take on fried chicken — will have you begging for more!

Blog E.P._Lou Dogg's Crispy Skin Chicken1 copyContinue Reading

Nine Showstopping Popcorn Dishes to Celebrate Blockbuster Season

Independence Day is almost here, and ahead of this epic movie-going weekend, we’re wondering which will be the big winner at the box office on July 4th (not to mention the summer). Jurassic World might claw its way to the top of the heap. Maybe Minions will take over the world. Or perhaps Terminator: Genisys will be the supersized success of the season. When the movie studios start binging on blockbusters, we get hungry for popcorn – and not just at the theater. Lucky for us, sweet and savory preparations featuring the puffy kernels have been popping up all over the country. In honor of the instances in which this concession-stand classic steals the show, we present nine show-stopping popcorn dishes to celebrate blockbuster season.

Almanac, New York, New York
Remember those nut-crusted cheese balls your grandmother always made at the holidays? Chef Galen Zamarra created an upscale riff: caramel popcorn-crusted goat cheese. The globe of goodness arrives with semolina crisps and golden raisin-fennel compote.

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Americano Restaurant & Bar, San Francisco, California
There’s an old saying that bacon makes everything better. That certainly holds true with executive chef Josua Perez’s ballpark-inspired bacon-pecan caramel popcorn. The sweet, salty, briny, and buttery snack mix is a certifiable home run.

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The Back Room at One57, New York, New York
There are éclairs and then there is pastry chef Scott Cio’s Cracker Jack éclair. The tubular treat is topped off with slightly salted caramel popcorn. Dig in and don’t worry; there’s not a prize hiding inside.

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Barton G. The Restaurant, Los Angeles, California
You’ll feel like you’re making a trip to the concession stand when you order this fun-loving appetizer. A mix of fried shrimp and Old Bay-spiced popcorn arrive in a chipper red and white retro popcorn maker. The jumble of crispity, crunchity bites is accompanied with Sriracha aioli and sweet chili sesame sauce.

Barton G blog copyContinue Reading

Nine Stunning Summer Restaurant Menus Showcasing the Season’s Bounty

Summertime and livin’ is easy. Farmers markets overflow with a rainbow of just-harvested vegetables, fruits, and herbs, while fishermen haul in seasonal specialties. For chefs, this wealth of freshness is a bonanza that they look forward to all year long. You can practically hear them rubbing their hands with glee when it starts flooding into their kitchens. To highlight the best of the sunny season, we rounded up nine stunning summer restaurant menus.

Bouchon, Beverly Hills, California
Thomas Keller presents French favorites crafted with farm fresh produce. Roasted chicken comes with a ragout of summer pole beans and sweet corn, artichokes pair with a pan-seared swordfish, and a radiant apricot tart leads the new dessert offerings. C’est magnifique!

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Charlie Palmer Steak, Washington, D.C.
When he’s not in the kitchen, executive chef Jeffrey Russell spends time tending his garden plot across the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia. The vegetables and herbs he cultivates there become a part of his four-course tasting dinners, which change weekly. The initial menu features a baby butter lettuce salad filled out with cukes, carrots, and bronze fennel and teres major steak accompanied by braised Swiss chard and charred Vidalia onions.

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Chefs Club by Food & Wine, New York City
If restaurants were movies, this one would be The Avengers. A rotating, all-star cast of contributors presents a seasonally inspired menu, which currently includes a watercress-jalapeno-watermelon salad from chef Michelle Bernstein and lobster cannelloni from chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson of Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colorado. Sounds like a blockbuster to us.

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Lincoln Ristorante, New York, New York
For his latest menu, executive chef Jonathan Benno found inspiration in traditional Sardinian cuisine. Standout dishes include a burrata orb graced with strawberries and pickled ramps, brown butter sautéed morels sit atop ricotta-pea pocketed ravioli, and a mélange of spinach and red dandelion greens are gussied up with briny bottarga, chili, and garlic. Best of all: you don’t have to buy a plane ticket to enjoy this authentic taste of the Mediterranean isle.Continue Reading