Dining with the Stars: DC’s Cafe Milano Hosts the Obamas; Cooper + Lawrence at Katsuya in LA; Parks + Rec Films at St. Elmo’s Steak House in IN + More

If Newt Gingrich is lucky, Ron Swanson will be sitting at his table at St. Elmo’s Steak House.

Recent celebrity sightings at OpenTable restaurants…

* Jake Gyllenhaal and Susan Sarandon dined separately at ABC Kitchen in Manhattan. [NY Post]

* Twilighter Ashley Greene helped fete the opening of Andrea’s in Las Vegas. [Just Jared Jr.]

* Ryan Seacrest left the west coast for the best coast, dining at Bill’s in midtown Manhattan. [NY Daily News]

* Political reporters Dana Bash, Kelly O’Donnell, and Brianna Keilar ate at BLT Steak in Washington, D.C., as did Meet the Press host David Gregory. [TheHill.com]

* Funnyman Jimmy Fallon had a meal at Blue Water Grill in the Big Apple. [NY Post]

* American Idol judge Nicki Minaj was spotted stepping out at BOA Steakhouse in Beverly Hills. [Just Jared]

* President Obama helped First Lady Michelle celebrate her birthday at Cafe Milano in Washington, D.C. [The Miami Herald]

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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]

Let’s Eat: Washington, D.C. Restaurant Week Is Here

dc-restaurant-weekThe founding foodies who live and work in our nation’s capital (excepting the vacationing First Family), as well as visitors, can take advantage of delicious dining deals during Washington, D.C. Restaurant Week. Sumptuous prix-fixe lunches and dinners are being offered for just $20.09 and $35.09, respectively. Participating restaurants include B. Smith’s, Cafe Promenade, Charlie Palmer Steak, The Prime Rib, Sam & Harry’s, and scores of other fine eateries.

Show your patriotic spirit and dine out around town during this affordable and fun week. Reserve tables here!

Do You Know Which Fork to Use (and Does It Even Matter)?

cutlery.jpgIf the Obamas invited you to a state dinner at the White House, would you know which fork or spoon to use for each course? Perhaps not (Hint: Start on the outside and work your way in), but Chow’s Helena Echlin wonders if this even matters anymore – at least in restaurants. As a big fan of tasting menus, I’m finding that many restaurants replace the cutlery with every course, so there’s no opportunity for a fork faux pas. Five-course meals aside, restaurateurs have become so accommodating to diners, that you can be sure no one will bat an eye if you wish to eat your entire entrée with a teaspoon. However, if any of us ever get to dine with the POTUS and the First Lady, let’s be sure we know a salad fork from a seafood fork.