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Starchefs International Chefs Congress 2007


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#1 docsconz

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Posted 23 September 2007 - 10:11 AM

The blue September sky resembled another six years earlier, another that led to a day of death and destruction in the very same location, a location that came to be known as Ground Zero. The memory of that day of sadness and tragedy will remain always, but the area around Ground Zero is starting to rise again with a renewed spirit. Helping to feed that renewed spirit, the second annual Starchefs International Chefs Congress, was held from September 16th through the 18th at 7 World Trade Center, a building that has arisen like a phoenix from the ashes of unspeakable horror. The event was held on the top two floors of this as yet unfinished building. The circumferential floor –to-ceiling windows showed remarkable views of what is, as well as what is no longer part of New York City with one view peering achingly down upon the heart of Ground Zero itself. However, within those walls and windows an event of nurturing took place as chefs, mixologists, sommeliers, suppliers, manufacturers and other food professionals gathered to learn from and connect with each other in an environment conducive to both.

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Some views from the Congress



With the cost of a three-day pass for chefs at a very reasonable $250 and a one-day pass at $150, attendance would essentially double over last year before the Congress would be done. From the moment of registration preceding the 12-noon commencement of the Congress on the 16th, the excitement in the air was palpable. Old friends were greeting each other warmly and new friends were being made. In the meantime, the prep kitchen under the direction of George Mendes and Asbel Reyes had already been in full swing for some time as presenting chefs and their assistants popped into the industrial loft-like space to finish the preparations for their upcoming presentations.
Posted ImageAsbel Reyes directs Pichet Ong in the prep kitchen.


Last Year's Congress, the inaugural one, packed two days full of demonstrations, discussions and delights. This year, the main two days of the Congress were packed just as tightly, but an additional day was scheduled and was packed to the brim as well. The schedule for this day was a bit different than last year’s and that of the following two days as it included a wide variety of contemporaneous hands-on workshops by chefs and mixologists in addition to a panel discussion and various presentations including one by Ann Cooper on the largely sorry state of contemporary school lunch programs. The latter presentation culminated in a lunch of either current typical school lunch fare or “the school lunch of the future” as prepared by Barton Seaver from Washington, D.C.'s Hook. Recipients were randomly divided into one lunch or the other, however, the vast majority of those with tickets for the contemporary fare of cut out chicken nuggets and other delights opted for the more attractive grass-fed beef burger with tomato, lettuce and sweet potato sticks. The object of this exercise was to alert chefs of the situation that is made particularly difficult due to the paltry financing school lunch programs receive and the lack of imagination invested in the programs. The hope was that this would be a clarion call to chefs to become involved at this level of the community.
School lunches: Current and ModelPosted ImagePosted Image

The main schedule began around 12PM on the 51st floor with Pichet Ong blurring the lines between sweet and savory with his presentation entitled P*#$stry as he incorporated traditionally savory ingredients into sweet courses and vice versa.
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Simultaneous to that presentation, hands-on workshops started in 4 separate draped-off venues throughout the floor. The workshops, limited in availability and at an additional cost, were all enticing and extremely difficult to choose between. While I will mention and give a brief synopsis of the demonstrations and workshops presented, I will focus on the ones I was able to experience to some degree.

Mixologist Adam Seger aka “El Presidente” from Chicago’s Nacional 27, got the ball rolling on the cocktail front with a workshop entitled: Culinary Mixology: Blurring the Line Between Market-Inspired Cookery and Seasonal Drink Mixing. In this workshop, Seger demonstrated techniques and uses for fresh fruit, herbs and vegetables in infused syrups based primarily on local, seasonal ingredients. At this presentation, Seger infused a simple syrup with fresh rosemary that he used along with Appleton Estate Jamaican rum and fresh blueberries to make a “Blueberry-Rosemary Caipiruva.” He muddled lime and blueberries in a 12oz rocks glass, added rosemary simple syrup, the rum and crushed ice and shook well. The drink is garnished with a sprig of rosemary. As with all the other cocktails demonstrated during the workshops, this was available the following night at the Starchefs ICC Cocktail party.

Chef Steven Pyles from Dallas with his eponymous restaurant, demonstrated the use of various chilies and how to layer and control the flavors and capsaicins using a Vita-Prep blender. The recipe he prepared, “Ceviche of Bronzini with Vanilla-Roasted Fennel and Almond Gazpacho”, featured the use of aji mirasol chilies from Peru.

Credited as the inventor of sous vide cooking, Bruno Goussault, along with Bruno Bertin both of Cuisine Solutions in Alexandria, VA, presented a workshop using low temperature cooking with a CVap Cook & Hold. This device uses a tightly controlled temperature steam environment that can be utilized in lieu of a water bath. The vacuum sealed plastic bag necessary for cooking sous vide in a water bath is not required here though it can be used, especially as a means to incorporate flavor elements. Similar results can be achieved by wrapping the protein along with flavor marinade elements in plastic wrap reducing potential botulism concerns secondary to the anaerobic environment of the vacuum seal.

Posted ImageGiven the current debate on tradition vs. evolution in Italian cuisine, I could not miss the presentation/demonstration by Fabio Trabocchi late of Maestro in Arlington, VA, and now of Fiamma in NYC, entitled Italian Cuisine: Tradition and Evolution. The workshop started with food. Each participant received a plate that combined a totally traditional Italian combination of a chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano along with a slice of prosciutto di Parma, several drops of Aceto Balsamico di Modena Tradizionale and a dash of Manni olive oil along with Parmigiano-Reggiano Ice Cream with Prosciutto di Parma Tuile. The tuile consisted of dehydrated prosciutto along with some finely crumbled hazelnuts. The remainder of the workshop consisted of a demonstration of the techniques used to make the dish. The principle device used for the ice cream was of course the Pacojet, a device used routinely through the Congress. Trabocchi chose this dish to illustrate his approach to creativity within a strong culinary tradition, because he considers Parmiggiano-Reggiano and prosciutto di Parma as tow classic pillars of Italian cuisine. As a chef working in the world of fine dining he feels the need and has the desire to put his stamp on the food that comes out of his kitchen. His food is creative in the line of Gualtiero Marchesi and other contemporary Italian chefs. Trabocchi feels that it is necessary to respect tradition though he does not feel beholden to it. I hope to expand upon these ideas and a few others through an interview I did with Chef Trabocchi following this workshop. Here is a link to a couple more photos from this workshop.

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I will continue to post this report in segments as I can.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend and cover the Congress with a Media Pass provided at no cost to myself. Personal expenses outside of the Congress itself including but not limited to transportation, housing and external meals were not provided by Starchefs.

Edited to include Disclosure.

Edited by docsconz, 09 October 2007 - 05:14 PM.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#2 mjmchef

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Posted 23 September 2007 - 06:30 PM

I attended the congress again this year and was particularly impressed by Seiji Yamamoto of RyuGin REstaurant in Tokyo Japan. Around me I heard a lot of oohs and ahhs and exciting other phrases to say the least. Just wanted to hear anyone elses thoughts about the food he showcased. Seems like a new destination restaurant to visit. Magiqual = a lot of money!

#3 Fat Guy

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Posted 23 September 2007 - 06:59 PM

Credited as the inventor of sous vide cooking, Bruno Goussault, along with Bruno Bertin both of Cuisine Solutions in Alexandria, VA, presented a workshop using low temperature cooking with a CVap Cook & Hold. This device uses a tightly controlled temperature steam environment that can be utilized in lieu of a water bath. The vacuum sealed plastic bag necessary for cooking sous vide in a water bath is not required here though it can be used, especially as a means to incorporate flavor elements. Similar results can be achieved by wrapping the protein along with flavor marinade elements in plastic wrap reducing potential botulism concerns secondary to the anaerobic environment of the vacuum seal.

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This sounds like a valuable workshop. I think chefs have been slow to pick up on the distinction between sous-vide cooking and low-temperature cooking. They can overlap, however they are not synonymous. I hope the chefs who attended this workshop will start a trend and stop using the term sous vide as a synonym for low-temperature cooking. Was Winston (manufacturer of the CVap) somehow involved in the presentation? I'm wondering because it seems odd to focus the workshop on this one device, when there are other low-temperature cooking methods that are also interesting (such as using oil instead of water in a recirculating bath, as recently discussed in Food Arts). Perhaps it was just a question of time limits and the need for focus, though.

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#4 docsconz

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Posted 23 September 2007 - 07:02 PM

I attended the congress again this year and was particularly impressed by Seiji Yamamoto of RyuGin REstaurant in Tokyo Japan. Around me I heard a lot of oohs and ahhs and exciting other phrases to say the least. Just wanted to hear anyone elses thoughts about the food he showcased. Seems like a new destination restaurant to visit. Magiqual = a lot of money!

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I was extremely impressed by Chef Yamamoto. That presentation (which I will get to in time) vaulted Ryugin onto my short list of must get-to restaurants. There certainly seemed to be no lack of funds at his disposal :laugh:
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

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#5 docsconz

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Posted 23 September 2007 - 07:09 PM

Credited as the inventor of sous vide cooking, Bruno Goussault, along with Bruno Bertin both of Cuisine Solutions in Alexandria, VA, presented a workshop using low temperature cooking with a CVap Cook & Hold. This device uses a tightly controlled temperature steam environment that can be utilized in lieu of a water bath. The vacuum sealed plastic bag necessary for cooking sous vide in a water bath is not required here though it can be used, especially as a means to incorporate flavor elements. Similar results can be achieved by wrapping the protein along with flavor marinade elements in plastic wrap reducing potential botulism concerns secondary to the anaerobic environment of the vacuum seal.

View Post

This sounds like a valuable workshop. I think chefs have been slow to pick up on the distinction between sous-vide cooking and low-temperature cooking. They can overlap, however they are not synonymous. I hope the chefs who attended this workshop will start a trend and stop using the term sous vide as a synonym for low-temperature cooking. Was Winston (manufacturer of the CVap) somehow involved in the presentation? I'm wondering because it seems odd to focus the workshop on this one device, when there are other low-temperature cooking methods that are also interesting (such as using oil instead of water in a recirculating bath, as recently discussed in Food Arts). Perhaps it was just a question of time limits and the need for focus, though.

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Winston Industries was a major sponsor of the Congress for the second year in a row. It appeared that the overall sponsorship of the Congress was significantly up from last year when it was pretty good as well. This particular device, however, seemed to be a favorite of many chefs among the hosts and presenters as well as those simply attending.

To directly answer your question, the representatives from Winston directly assisted in the workshop.I would stress though that this workshop and specific technique was one amongst a wide variety demonstrated. I did not see or hear of anyone using oil for a sous vide circulation bath.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

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#6 docsconz

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Posted 23 September 2007 - 07:26 PM

Posted ImageJohnny Iuzzini followed Pichet Ong on the main stage providing a demonstration on using an ingredient in multiple, distinct ways for specific desserts. Familiar to the many fans of the restaurant Jean-George, Johnny’s Dessert 4-Play consists of 4 small, individualized desserts playing off a single principle ingredient and served together. To be successful, each dessert element must have a unique sensibility, but maintain harmony through flavor and texture with the other three in the presentation.

The main stage presentations were overlapped by the hands-on workshops, such that Iuzzini’s presentation started while the first set of workshops were on-going and finished after the next set had commenced.

In addition to the four workshop areas already mentioned, wine tasting seminars joined the available array of workshops. Alas, I was unable to partake of Ultimate Pairings as given by Fred Dexheimer of T. Edward Wines in NYC. Unfortunately, another workshop I could not get to was that of mixologist Todd Thrasher of The PX and Restaurant Eve in Arlington, VA. His workshop was one that would likely have been of great interest to eGullet Society Staff member John Deragon, who has developed quite a reputation for concocting his own bitters and resurrecting recipes for old-time bitters. Thrasher’s topic was entitled Bitters and Tonics from Scratch. Shortly after this workshop, however, Thrasher could be found in the prep kitchen tediously preparing tomato water for the next evening’s Tomato Water Bloody Mary, perhaps the best version of that drink ever to cross my lips.

I was also unable to attend Sous Vide, The Right Way Featuring DayMark, Multivac and Techne with Chef Shea Gallante of Cru in NYC.

Posted ImageI did, however, get to meet Chefs Michael Cimarusti and Adrian Vasquez of Providence in LA. Who led a workshop on Working with Australian Fish at which he had the largest rock lobster that I have ever seen. Whether it was that very one or more likely another, I was fortunate to dine on a course composed of Chef Cimarusti’s Australian rock lobster at dinner that night. Chef vasquez is on the left and Chef Cimarusti is to the right in the photo.


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Most of my time after my interview with Chef Trabocchi was spent at the demonstration of Chef Carmen Titita Ramirez Degollado of the El Bajio restaurants in Mexico City. I had the pleasure of dining at the original El Bajio during a recent trip to Mexico as was chronicled here. Chef Degollado was unavailable at that time, so it was a particular pleasure to meet her here. She prepared traditional Mexican salsas including her famous Salsa Negra made with dried black chipotle mecos. There was a great give and take at this workshop between Chef Degollado and chefs such as Dimitri Hidalgo Miña from Quito, Ecuador and Hector Santiago of Pura Vida in Atlanta.

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John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#7 docsconz

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 05:52 AM

I'm wondering because it seems odd to focus the workshop on this one device, when there are other low-temperature cooking methods that are also interesting (such as using oil instead of water in a recirculating bath, as recently discussed in Food Arts). Perhaps it was just a question of time limits and the need for focus, though.

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David Arnold, an Instructor at The French Culinary Institute, who wrote that article in Food Arts, was a significant participant at the Congress (amongst other things, he assisted Johnny Iuzzini with his demo), but I did not hear him or anyone else discuss that method at all. I would not be surprised, however, that if that method gains steam in chef circles, to see David presenting it at a future ICC.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#8 tan319

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 12:24 PM

Nice stuff as always,'doc.
Can't wait for more
Thanks!
2317/5000

#9 docsconz

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 04:41 AM

Thanks, Ted. I have plenty more to come if I can shake this nasty head cold/cough!

In the meantime, here are some faces in the crowd:

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Aki Kamozawa, Sean Brock and Patrick Sheerin

Aki Kamozawa and her husband Alex Talbot of Ideas in Food fame recently returned to NYC from a summer in Montana. They are still looking for the right location to open a restaurant. In the meantime they continue to chronicle their inspirations and creativity, are cooking privately and offering cooking classes, the schedule of which can be found on their blog.

Sean Brock
, the chef at McCrady's Restaurant in Charleston, S.C. is passionate about his ingredients, so much so that they recently bought an actual plantation to raise much of their own produce and livestock including descendants of the original Spanish pigs brought to these shores centuries ago. The pigs will feed on acorns much as the prized pata negra pigs in Spain that are used to make bellota pork products.

Patrick Sheerin
, an alumnus of The French Culinary Institute in New York is the Executive Chef of Chicago's well known Signature Room at the 95th..
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#10 docsconz

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 04:53 PM

After the school lunch program, the rest of the afternoon was a whirlwind.

Scott Mayger, the general manager of Telepan Restaurant in NYC led a wine tasting seminar, Pairing with Difficult or Unusual Ingredients Featuring Loire Valley Wines. Scott brought out food elements that are notoriously difficult to pair with wine such as a raw tomato, aged goat cheese, asparagus, artichoke heart and roasted pepper. He explained that the art of pairing does not necessarily mean finding something "that goes so well", but instead having a pairing that complements or contrasts with the food, but in such a way that the result is synergistic - both taste better than either alone.

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Scott Mayger's Loire Valley Wine Tasting Seminar


Mayger featured wines from the various appellations of the Loire and paired them each with a difficult to pair food item that he brought out. He paired the tomato with a muscadet from the western most part of the Loire. While this inexpensive wine is particularly renowned as a pairing for Breton oysters, he also found that its acidity complemented that of the tomato. In addition, the wine is well balanced and round but not overly aggressive, a trait that would fight against the tomato.

For the aged goat cheese incorporated in a dish (much more difficult to pair than chunks of plain cheese) Mayger chose a Sancerre. Again, the acidity in the wine provided a key component for the pairing.

The high acidity and powerful pungency of the wines from Menetou, SW of Sancerre, masks the green vegetal qualities of asparagus derived from sulfide mercaptans in the vegetable. Another vegetable, the artichoke, contains cynarin, that interfere's with one's ability to taste. This makes a wine taste sweeter. Mayger paired this with a chenin blanc from Montlouis sur Loire.

For the red pepper, Mayger paired a cabernet franc from the Loire, a grape notable for it s barnyardy nose.

he concluded that Loire wines can pair well with a variety of difficult to pair foods, but because of the inherent subtlety of most of the wines of the Loire, they tend not to sell well in the boldly flavored American food market. They do, however, tend to go very well wherever their inherent delicacy and acidity are allowed to shine as with simply prepared foods.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#11 docsconz

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 05:38 PM

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Graham Elliot Bowles of Avenues Restaurant in Chicago held a workshop on The Art of Presentation in which he and his staff presented four dishes, each inspired by a different art movement and each to be constructed by the participants.

To represent contemporary art, Bowles offered a deconstructed clam chowder to be fashioned in a somewhat haphazard manner. The ingredients were presented dry and spread on a plate. For pop art, he supplied braised pork belly on a bed of grits and collard greens. The participants were instructed to smear the sauce across the plate. A cranberry bisque with mint-whipped cream atop it represented a minimalist approach with a simple layer and contrast of colors. To simulate the art of impressionism, seared scallops with pumpkin puree and eggnog foam were placed on the plate to represent the blurred image of a Toulouse-Lautrec can-can dancer.

Towards the end of the workshop, an additional buzz arose as the Italian master, Gualtiero Marchesi came in with a small entourage to partake of the festivities.

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Marchesi even tried his hand with the Follies Bergere scallops though I'm not quite sure that he fully understood what he was supposed to do!

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John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#12 tan319

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 10:01 AM

Side note: Looks like the ever changing hair ( lucky guy) of Johnny Iuzzini is entering a kind of British 'Teddy Boy'/ Rockabilly/ Dave Gahan "Songs of Faith & Devotion " period.
Cool look, what did he cook? :biggrin:
2317/5000

#13 docsconz

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 06:53 PM

Side note: Looks like the ever changing hair ( lucky guy) of Johnny Iuzzini is entering a kind of British 'Teddy Boy'/ Rockabilly/ Dave Gahan  "Songs of Faith & Devotion " period.
Cool look, what did he cook? :biggrin:

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I haven't forgotten about this topic! Unfortunately between recovering from a nasty bug and being flat out busy, I haven't had the time to put together what I need to, but I will :wink:

What look wouldn't look cool on Johnny?

The main element, Ted, in Johnny's presentation was a Chololate Panino with Wisconsin Fontina, Gianduja and Black Olive. He made a chocolate briochethat he froze and sliced thinly with an electric slicer; candied dehydrated black olives which he folded into a gianduja along with a feuillatine. the gianduja was spread on parchment, chilled and cut. Assembly consisted of spreading the gianduja on two slices of the brioche, layering some cheddar in the center, combining them into a sandwich and putting it into a panini press until the cheese is somewhat, but not completely melted. The panino is finished with a balsamic vinaigrette drizzled around it and garnished with micro arugula. The 4 play was finished with chocolate donuts with donut crumbs and a couple of other elements that I didn't note.

I hope to have more substantial posts sometime this weekend, though I will be unable to do anything with photos tomorrow :sad: Thanks for your patience. :smile:
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#14 docsconz

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 06:05 PM

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Pastry Chef Jordan Kahn formerly of Varietal, Alinea, Per Se and The French laundry led a workshop using a tool that has become synonymous with creative restaurant ice cream - the Pacojet. His presentation, Demystifying the Pacojet was meant to illustrate savory and sweet application potentials for this machine. To this end, He asked questions about the interchangeability of recipes for batch freezers and Pacojets, the affect of the process on the constitution of a recipe and how various ingredients and percentages determine the character of a product. Beyond ice cream, the role of the Pacojet as a "high speed blender" amongst other possibilities were also explored that could make this machine beloved of pastry chefs to also be of particular use to a savory chef. Kahn worked with a recipe for "Lime Flower Sabayon, Wolfberry, Broken Macaroons, Ketjap Manis." His use of tonka beans and ketjap manis were two of the elemens he used in desserts that he became most well known for while at Varietal.

I got a chance to chat with Chef Kahn about a few things. He is currently working for Michael Mina helping set up pastry departments at various Michael Mina restaurants that will be opening around the country. While currently based in San Francisco, his ultimate objective at this point is Los Angeles where Mina will be opening what appears to be a major restaurant.

I asked him about his experience at Varietal and whether he had any regrets for this relatively short-lived restaurant. He was happy for the opportunity given to him, but realized before opening that there was a major disconnect between sweet and savory. This was apparently the intention of the owners of the restaurant who gave him carte blanche to do as he wished. Ultimately the styles were too disparate to be comfortable on the same table at least for a significant number of diners and especially critics.

For my money, Jordan Kahn is one of the outstanding young pastry chefs of any ilk with his creative potential second to none. I look forward to many good things to come.

At the end of the workshop, I was able to return and snap a photo of Chef Kahn with another outstanding, creative young pastry chef - Patrice Demers of Montreal. Chef Demers, formerly of Les Chevres in Montreal is currently creative director of Laloux in Montreal. demers talented former chef partner at les Chevres, Stelio Perambelon also attended the Congress.

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Jordan Kahn and Patrice Demers
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#15 docsconz

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 06:56 PM

From Kitchen to cookbook was a panel that featured Chef Grant Achatz of Alinea in Chicago, food writer Jeffrey Steingarten, literary agent Lisa Queen and publishers Ann Bramson of Artisan and Will Schwalbe of Hyperion were brought together to discuss the pitfalls, perils and bounties of publishing a cookbook.

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Chef Achatz discussed the tribulations of he and his team as they considered their options for their upcoming Alinea book, ultimately deciding to self publish the book with distribution by Ten Speed Press. Like the way they proceeded with the groundbreaking Alinea Project here on the eGullet Society Forums, Achatz and his team will use the internet in a novel way as an adjunct to the book.

Posted Image
Wylie Dufresne and Jeffrey Steingarten after the panel.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#16 hathor

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 11:59 PM

Docsconz, no pressure. Proceed at your own pace, it's worth waiting for.

#17 rjwong

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 07:43 AM

I got a chance to  chat with Chef Kahn about a few things. He is currently working for Michael Mina helping set up pastry departments at various Michael Mina restaurants that will be opening around the country. While currently based in San Francisco, his ultimate objective at this point is Los Angeles where Mina will be opening what appears to be a major restaurant.

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Jordan Kahn in Los Angeles, ehh?? I wouldn't mind that. I did hear a while back that Michael Mina was looking around LA for a place. He does have Stonehill Tavern over in nearby Orange County CA. I haven't heard anything recently though ...

John, how did Grant Achatz seem to you when you saw him at the "From Kitchen to Cookbook" panel??

BTW, what hathor said. Take your time. Is that nasty bug gone yet? Uhh, have you gone and seen ... a doctor ... ?? :wink: :wink:
Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

#18 docsconz

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 08:19 AM

By late that Sunday afternoon there was so much going on concurrently that things got pretty crazy for me. Unfortunately I missed a few workshops that I wish I could have been at even briefly.

Donald Link of Herbsaint in New Orleans led Small Plates Southern Style. Link likes the fact that small plates allow a diner to experience a wider variety of a chef's work. One caution he noted was the tendency of check averages to slip with small-plate only restaurants. As such he recommends encouraging dines to share a variety of small plates in addition to a main course.

Junior Merino, mixologist currently working as a writer and consultant through The Liquid Chef, Inc. paired food and cocktails that focused on using Amarula Cream liquer from South Africa and Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum. Like a well-prepared plate of food, a good cocktail also needs to be well balanced with five components essential for it s success. A cocktail must be visually appealing, have an attractive scent, great taste or flavor, of course, balance of its constituent components and a bit of soul provided by the mixologist. The food for this session was created and prepared by Máximo Tejada of Rayuela in new York City.

John Scharffenberger and Elizabeth Falkner led a workshop entitled, High Content Chocolate Desserts. Scharffenberger, a true Renaissance man of the culinary world , started and sold Scharffenberger Cellars then did the same with Scharffen Berger Chocolates, a company with which he is still affiliated though not as owner. Currently he is working on sustainable cacao farming in Central America and raising free-range, acorn-fed pigs and making artisanal hams in northern California. He is co-author of a book, Essence of Chocolate. Falkner, chef owner of Citizen Cake, Citizen Cupcake and the upcoming Orson in San Francisco, is also an author of the newly released Demolition Desserts.

Scharffenberger discussed various properties of chocolate. For example, out of approximately 6000 identified flavors, 1200 or so can be found in chocolate as compared to 900 or so in wine. He also discussed potential health benefits of chocolate such as the high content of anti-oxidant polyphenols. Not only should we not feel guilty eating dark chocolate, it should be embraced as a pro-health food. Tasting chocolate should be done by analyzing the flavors sequentially as they break down inside the mouth.

Falkner used sous vide technique to make a chocolate cake. Melted chocolate, eggs, butter and sugar are combined and cooked in the 71C water bath to an internal temperature of 65C, then microwaved to order for 35-45 seconds, assembled and served.

Takashi Yagihashi currently of Noodles in Chicago and formerly of Okada at the Wynn in Las Vegas, Tribute in suburban Detroit and Ambria in Chicago led a workshop entitled Sashimi Skills: Featuring Henckel' Miyabi Knives. He focused on brushing up basic skills traditional sashimi and vegetables as well as contemporary sushi. In addition Takashi offered tips for plating, presentation and knife care.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#19 docsconz

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 08:28 AM

I got a chance to  chat with Chef Kahn about a few things. He is currently working for Michael Mina helping set up pastry departments at various Michael Mina restaurants that will be opening around the country. While currently based in San Francisco, his ultimate objective at this point is Los Angeles where Mina will be opening what appears to be a major restaurant.

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Jordan Kahn in Los Angeles, ehh?? I wouldn't mind that. I did hear a while back that Michael Mina was looking around LA for a place. He does have Stonehill Tavern over in nearby Orange County CA. I haven't heard anything recently though ...

John, how did Grant Achatz seem to you when you saw him at the "From Kitchen to Cookbook" panel??

BTW, what hathor said. Take your time. Is that nasty bug gone yet? Uhh, have you gone and seen ... a doctor ... ?? :wink: :wink:

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LA is certainly in Mina's sights as well as Kahn's. I think the combination should be very exciting. I think Mina if he is going to do L.A., wants to make sure that he does it right so I don't think that you will likely be hearing much more unless and until it comes closer to fruition.

It was difficult to miss Chef Achatz at the Congress as he was all over the place. His energy and focus are truly inspirational. While the chemo and radiation have added some wear and tear to his visage, seeing him in action and speaking with him provides a sense that if anyone can get through his ordeal and be the stronger for it, it is he. He mentioned to me that he regretted canceling his demo this year, but looks forward to doing it next year. I have no doubt that he will be there.

As for my bug... funny thing is I got back to work and half the OR had the same thing. I think I am well enough now to get back on track!
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#20 docsconz

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 09:38 AM

Innovations with Spanish Olive Oil was the title of the workshop led by Katsuya Fukushima, Ruben Garcia and Michael Tucker from Cafe Atlantico/minibar in Washington D.C.

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Michael Tucker prepping for the workshop while waiting for the preceding one to finish


While the emphasis of this workshop would be on using Spanish olive oil, the trio started out demonstrating the technique of spherification using Campbell's tomato juice, which Fukushima said they found to be the best for that purpose. Since this tomato juice already has calcium in it, drops only need be added to a sodium alginate bath and rinsed in a water bath. Other products without calcium need to have calcium chloride added before dropping into the alginate bath. They discussed some of the details such as the precision necessary when weighing out quantities of the powders as well as the importance of timing in developing the proper consistency and thickness of the spheres. The tomato spheres can be further modified by putting them into dehydrators to result in the modern version of "sun-dried tomatoes."

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Ruben Garcia talked about how in Spain today, people are starting to treat olive oils like wine based on varietal and treatment differences. They used arbequina for their demo , making pendants of olive oil by caramelizing the liquid. By using hot melted isomalt, a sugar that doesn't absorb humidity, they were able to encase a drop of cold olive oil within a thin film and created a pendant by blowing a small bubble of air into it like a glass blower would. This technique works well with infused oils, though not with liquids as they tend to dissolve the sugar.

They then used liquid nitrogen to turn olive oil into a powder. Garcia explained that while dangerous to work with, it is not as dangerous as it initially appears. One can touch the liquid nitrogen without harm, though any prolonged exposure can result in a burn. The liquid has a tendency to roll off skin that is exposed to it. The real danger occurs when the liquid gets caught up in clothes creating a well for prolonged exposure and burns. For the powder, olive oil is misted into a bucket of liquid nitrogen and strained out. Sine this olive oil powder would otherwise melt quickly, it is important to make sure that the serving piece has been made cold to hold the temperature for service.

Another technique with olive oil and liquid nitrogen is to make olive oil "butter" by whipping the olive oil as liquid nitrogen is poured over it.

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John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

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#21 docsconz

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 06:23 PM

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Alex Stupak beginning to get ready for his demo


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#22 docsconz

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 07:15 PM

Manipulation: Creativity Through New Technique was the focus for Alex Stupak in his demonstration. Currently at WD-50, but with a pedigree that includes Alinea, Clio, The Federalist and Tru, this brilliant 26 year old pastry chef prepared several dishes and explained how he arrived at them using scientific method. Chef Stupak described a technique involving an enzymatically altered egg yolk used in the preparation of a grapefruit mousse. When asked about the availability of this product, Chef Stupak passed the baton to Wylie Dufresne who happened to be in the audience. Unfortunately, at the present time due to an association with an outside company who prepares the product and a non-disclosure agreement, Chef Dufresne was unable to discuss anything more specific about the product and its qualities. Nevertheless, i am sure that we will be hearing much more about it in the future. I had the opportunity to taste several of these dishes the following night during dinner at WD-50 the following night including "Grapefruit Custard, Elderflower, Blueberry, Basil" that were non-intuitive, but sensational. "Coconut Mousse, Cashew, Cucumber, Coriander," not demonstrated though the recipe is in the Starchefs ICC Program, is a dessert that outside of the alliterative "C" in the various elements does not appear on the surface to be a cohesive whole. The marvel is that it is indeed not only cohesive, but the combination synergistic. The same holds true for "Cherry Covered Chocolate, Molasses, Lime" only with less alliteration.

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Cherry Covered Chocolate, Molasses, Lime as prepared during Chef Stupak's Demo

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Justin Hilbert assisting Chef Stupak with the demonstration

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Chef Stupak in addition to his demo, gave a heartfelt talk about his dreams and aspirations. It may surprise some that Chef Stupak's ultimate dream is to open a Mexican restaurant along with his wife, who is currently the pastry Chef at Babbo in NYC. I have no doubt that this too, when it happens, will be nothing short of incredible.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#23 docsconz

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 07:18 PM

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Jordan Kahn, Grant Achatz, Wylie Dufresne and Alex Stupak during the first day of the 2nd Annual Starchefs International Chefs Congress


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#24 TonyC.

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 05:35 AM

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Jordan Kahn, Grant Achatz, Wylie Dufresne and Alex Stupak during the first day of the 2nd Annual Starchefs International Chefs Congress

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Thanks for the update on Chef Achatz.

#25 hathor

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 08:02 AM

They all look so young...that can only mean one thing! :laugh:
Elderflower is an underused flavor, secondo me. It's nice to see it get a little nod.

Thanks Doc. As always, your reports are wonderful.

#26 docsconz

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 12:50 PM

Thanks, Judith. I appreciate you and anyone else taking the time to read them. At last year's Chefs Congress Albert Adria used elderflower in a dessert that he demonstrated called "Colibri" or hummingbird. I agree that it is an underused flavor though I would hate to see it become ubiquitous.

The first day of the Congress was a complete whirlwind. As might be expected with all the activity in a new place, the timing ran late and cut into a cocktail reception for presenters, hosts and guests at Country followed by a dinner for the presenters, staff, honorees and guests at The Morgan Library. I was fortunate enough to be invited as a guest, but forewent the cocktail party in order to change my clothes for the dinner, which was held in the main atrium of the Library.
The dinner itself was chefs cooking for chefs with the cooking done by chefs from around the country including Michael Cimarusti of Providence in L.A., Anthony Bombaci of Nana in Dallas, David Burke of David Burke and Donatella in NYC, Elizabeth Falkner of Citizen Cake in San Francisco and Alex Stupak of WD-50 in NYC.

Seating was assigned. I ended up at a marvelous table sitting between John Scharffenberger and a lovely representative from Foods from Spain whose nameunfortunately escapes me. Also at the table were Oriol Balaguer, Carmen Titita Ramirez Degollado along with her daughter, Mari Carmen and a Catalan chef from her Mexico City restaurant whose name, unfortunately also escapes me, Edgar Leal of Cacao Restaurant in Coral Gables, Fl and Jordan Kahn. The multilingual conversation helped make this already special dinner that much more special.

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Chef Michael Cimarusti | Providence - Los Angeles
Kelp-marinated Australian Southern Rock Lobster, Burdock Root, Shiso
Vouvray Sec, Bourillon-dorleans, Coulée d’Argent, VieilleS Vignes 2006



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Chef Tony Bombaci | Nana - Dallas
Slow-Cooked Cervena Venison Loin, Thai Peanut Sauce,
Caramelized Bananas, Salsify, Cilantro
Cordon Heras Reserva doc Rioja 2001


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Chef David Burke | davidburke & donatella - New York City
Japanese Wagyu MasterTM, Grains of Paradise,
Sweet Pea-Langoustine Cannelloni
Cordon Heras Reserva doc Rioja 2001


Unfortunately, I failed to get a photo of Elizabeth Falkner's offering
Elizabeth Falkner | Citizen Cake - San Francisco
Wisconsin Stravecchio, Piquillo Peppers,
Cocoa Nib-Rice Explosion, Fennel Drops


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Alex Stupak | wd~50 - New York City
Yuzu Curd, Shortbread, Pistachio, Spruce Yogurt


Some photos of the crowd enjoying the evening:

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Jordan Kahn and Oriol Balaguer

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Johnny Iuzzini puts a headlock on Katsuya Fukushima while Will Goldfarb referees.

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Carmen Titita Ramirez Degollado and Jose Andres exchange a warm greeting

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Starchefs' Managing Editor, Will Blunt and Michael Cimarusti

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Johnny Iuzzini and Josh DeChellis

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Starchefs' Editor-in-Chief, Antoinette Bruno welcoming everyone and introducing the Starchefs Rising Star Chefs.

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Yosuke Suga of L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon and Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern standing as they were announced amongst others as 2007 New York City Rising Star Chefs.

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Wylie Dufresne, Graham Elliot Bowles and others standing for acknowledgment as Rising Star Chef alumni

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Grant Achatz, Asbel Reyes, Takashi Yagihashi and Graham Elliot Bowles share a conversation as the dinner comes to an end.

This was a spectacular way to end a busy, fun and fruitful first day of this stellar Congress!

The
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#27 tan319

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 01:05 PM

Awesome reportage, 'doc!
keep it up & glad you're feeling better!!!
2317/5000

#28 BryanZ

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 08:16 PM

So cool.

#29 Patrice

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 08:56 PM

Thank you Doc for the great pictures.
The congress was simply amazing and it was great to see you in NYC.
Patrice Demers

#30 Judith Gebhart

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 11:07 PM

I attended the congress again this year and was particularly impressed by Seiji Yamamoto of RyuGin REstaurant in Tokyo Japan. Around me I heard a lot of oohs and ahhs and exciting other phrases to say the least. Just wanted to hear anyone elses thoughts about the food he showcased. Seems like a new destination restaurant to visit. Magiqual = a lot of money!

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We sampled chef Yamamoto's extraordinary talents in May 2006 in a Barcelona suburb at a new Japanese restaurant, Matsui.

The talent of this chef was and is extraordinary. Chef Yamamoto presented an exceptionlal contemporary menu; it was, seemingly, a thank you to Ferran and Andoni who had visited his Tokyo restaurant in 2005. This remarkable Tokyo chef delivered a sensational updated, contemporary Japanese menu.

It was for us a most memorable culinary experience. Yamamoto was a reluctant chef, in embracing his most enthusiastic supporters. At the end of this extraordinary dining event, we had the opportunity to personally engage with the chef and his staff. What a miraculous shift occurred; the chef and staff became recipients of the overwhelming affection and approval that every diner experienced. It was then and remains an exceptional dining experience. it was also an emotionally satisfying moment in time. We are forever indebted to Chef Aduriz's invitation. What a gift to us.

The current references to this chefs abilities are justly warranted. He represents a new Japanese culinary viewpoint. We will never forget his dining experience. Judith Gebhart