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: Jamie Lauren’s Walk-In; Ron Duprat’s Efforts to Help Haiti; Patricia Yeo’s ‘Son-in-Law’ Eggs; and More

Chef-WatchChefs who are making headlines this week…

* Jamie Lauren, from “Top Chef “Season 5, shows the Grub Street gang her super-neat walk-in at San Francisco’s Absinthe Brasserie, where she’s the executive chef.  [Grub Street San Francisco]

* Speaking of “Top Chef”, Season 6 contestant Ron Duprat, executive chef at Latitudes Beach Café at the Hollywood Beach Marriot in Florida, is organizing a dining relief effort for Haiti on February 14, 2010. Duprat, a native of Haiti, will be joined by other former “Top Chef” contestants including Mattin Noblia (of Illuna Basque in San Francisco), Hector Santiago (of Pura Vida in Atlanta) and Michael Voltaggio is chef de cuisine at The Dining Room at The Langham in Pasadena, California. []

* Patricia Yeo of Boston’s Ginger Park Kitchen + Bar discusses her “Scottish Son-in-Law Eggs” that are egg-citing (I couldn’t help it) diners at her Boston restaurant. [Boston Herald]

* Chef Simon Dolinky of BLVD 16 is honoring those who make dineLA possible with a discounted tasting menu for restaurant-industry employees only. The offer runs from February 9-14. BLVD 16 is also participating in dineLA, so those of us not in the industry can still enjoy his meals at a steal. [Grub Street Los Angeles]

* Former chef to Oprah and restaurateur Art Smith, of Table Fifty-Two in Chicago and Art and Soul in Washington, D.C., dishes on earning a spot in the Chicago Culinary Museum and Chefs Hall of Fame (nevermind that the museum itself has yet to find a spot). [Chicago Tribune]