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Starchefs International Chefs Congress 2007


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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

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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!

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

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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!

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

Judith, that sounds like it must have been an absolutely marvelous experience on so many levels. Thanks for sharing! I will have much more on Chef Yamamoto and Chef Aduriz soon. As for Andoni Luis Aduriz, I have yet to have the pleasure of dining at Mugaritz, but I have come to be a great fan of Chef Aduriz as a person.

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

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Starchefs ICC Day Two: September 17, 2007

gallery_8158_5171_19070.jpgAntoinette Bruno, the CEO and Editor-in-chief of Starchefs.com, as she did last year, gave an opening welcome address on the first full day of the International Chefs Congress. She opened by reminiscing about what was happening in the American culinary world twelve years ago as Starchefs was born. At the time there was little to no talk about Spain and its cooking in the US. French was the prevailing cuisine and Asian Fusion was hot. Obviously, though French and Asian cuisines remain important elements in the culinary firmament, much has changed and opened up. Over those twelve years a truly global culinary world has evolved that has brought along with it a wide range of ingredients. The theme and special focus of this Congress was Ingredients: Conceptualization and Cooking Though subject to many techniques, the ingredient is the backbone of every dish.

The Starchefs Trend Report, culled from a survey of professional Fine Dining chefs by Starchefs was delivered by Ms. Bruno. She provided interesting data on the demographics of Starchefs audience, both on the internet and at the Congress. She noted that 6% of respondents don't have a mixology program at their restaurants and therefore "over half...are missing an easy way to increase (the) bottom line!"

Revenue has increased secondary to increasing menu prices. 34% of entrées or ten percent more than in 2006 are now priced between $25-33, while there has been a 20% increase in the number of chefs charging over $34 per entrée (14%).

Bruno noted that 2006-2007 has been an important one in the pastry world with more and more pastry chefs blurring the lines between savory and sweet.

Looking at ingredients, Bruno noted that 65% of chefs focus on local and seasonal, which remains the same as it was in 2006.. 56% of all chefs are using more than half of their produce in a seasonal fashion and 333% are sourcing more than half of their produce locally. Of note, new to the exhibitors this year and consistent with this trend was the presence of Farm to Chef Express from Washington County in Upstate New York that markets top quality, artisanal farm product directly to NYC restaurants.

Approximately the same number of chefs (about 20%) are using innovative equipment and techniques in their cooking as last year.

For the second year in a row, Bruno noted that South America is the region the majority of respondents think will continue to exert the most influence over the culinary world for the near future. based upon my own growing experience and interest in the various cuisines of latin America, I am not one to disagree.

Bruno questioned a growing disconnect between more sophisticated expectations of the dining public as a whole and the role and nature of government with relation to the food industry as exemplified by bans on foie gras and transfats.

She finished with an introduction of the Congress Keynote Speaker...

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

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Just a note to say that eG Forums topics like this one wouldn't be possible without the financial support of the Society's sponsors and donors. As a member of this non-profit organization, your contributions pay for forum upkeep, the eG scholarship fund, and many exciting Society projects in the works. I know I speak on behalf of all of us in eG Society management and volunteer staff in saying thank you for your support!

If you're not yet a donor, there are many ways to contribute. Click here for a list of ten ways that you can help the Society.

Now back to the report -- and thanks!

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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

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...David Kamp author of The United States of Arugula: The Sun Dried, Cold Pressed, Dark Roasted, Extra Virgin Story of the American Food Revolution, a book about the coming of age of food in the United States spoke on The Evolution of an American Cuisine. He spoke on the pivotal roles of Alice Waters and others that led to today's heightened food consciousness in this country. Though the food industry has suffered some growing pains in recent years, Kamp remains optimistic about its future in the United States. He indicates that issues raised like bans on foie gras and transfats as well as the emergence of the celebrity chef phenomenon all indicate thought and a growing sophistication in the way the U.S. approaches food.

This is a country that now cares and takes food seriously. While he applauds the increased sophistication of the nation's artisanal farms, the importance of sustainability and good nutrition, he said that ultimately food is about pleasure and that in order to promote those values, ultimately chefs while respecting those values, should "sell the pleasure, not the virtue."

One problem he sees in the current state of culinaria in this country is a general impatience to go right to the top. Students graduate from culinary school and expect to immediately become the next Food Network star or run their own restaurant and get frustrated when that doesn't happen right away. He suggested that all young chefs read Jacque Pepin's The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen to gain perspective.

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Though he endorsed the trend to "local and seasonal" ingredients, he acknowledged that a full commitment to that ethic was neither possible nor desirable, stating that we "won't ever reach the point where we close the border to other foods." When asked about certain popular foods of the past, he said, "if you can find terrapin, maybe it will make a comeback." Terrapin was so popular at the turn of the twentieth century that the population was so ravaged that it was severely reduced and has yet to make a significant comeback. From his perspective, though, the only ingredients that are "off the table" for human consumption looking into the future are "endangered species and human flesh."

Though not with the earthy humor of last year's Keynote speaker, Tony Bourdain, Kamp's talk was thoughtful, provocative and entertaining in its own right, providing a superb introduction to the main body of the Congress.

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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

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Last year, the first Chef Demonstration after the Keynote Address belonged to Albert Adria. As would be expected, that was an amazing entree into the full schedule of Chefs' Demonstrations for the remainder of that Congress. This year's post-keynote demonstration was no less fascinating, coming from Chef Seiji Yamamoto of Tokyo's Ryugin Restaurant.

gallery_8158_5171_70522.jpgPrior to engaging in his live demo, Chef Yamamoto showed video and photos of the preparation of several techniques used at his restaurant. The first was the technique that they devised to debone the delicious but ultra-boney hamo fish or pike eel. In order to get an accurate sense of the placement of the myriad of bones located throughout the soft tissue of this fish, they took one down to a local hospital and put it through a CT scanner.

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He then showed a video of the knife technique that they subsequently used as well as the rest of the preparation for this dish.gallery_8158_5171_43053.jpg

gallery_8158_5171_96600.jpg At Ryugin, Chef Yamamoto silk screens sauces onto plates and is particularly noted for silk-screening newspaper reviews of his restaurant!

The next dish demo'ed via video was a reconstructed apple, for which he took apart an apple and along with other ingredients transformed it into several different texture components and then literally reconstructed the dessert into the form of an apple. While the description of the ingredients and the techniques used were such that the flavor would be delicious, the artistry involved was absolutely mind-blowing.

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What is pictured on the screen that appears to be a perfect apple is the reconstruction. Unfortunately, I was so mesmerized by what I was watching, I didn't write down any details of the technique.

The next technique demonstrated on-screen was use of the Magiquoal, an amazing refrigeration device that keeps liquid at sub-freezing temperatures in such a way that it remains in the liquid state until perturbed - at which point it instantly freezes.There is a brief video demonstration in the link above, though the site is in Japanese. The possibilities shown by Chef Yamamoto are truly amazing and had the audience buzzing.

Chef Yamamoto's live demonstration will be continued in a separate post.

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

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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!

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

Judith, that sounds like it must have been an absolutely marvelous experience on so many levels. Thanks for sharing! I will have much more on Chef Yamamoto and Chef Aduriz soon. As for Andoni Luis Aduriz, I have yet to have the pleasure of dining at Mugaritz, but I have come to be a great fan of Chef Aduriz as a person.

Dear Doc; Your observations about Chef Andoni are on target. We regard him not only an exceptional chef in today's world but an amazing human being. We cannot speak more highly of him in any capacity. There are few young people in the world with such a great heart, humanity and culinary talent. He is very very special. Judith Gebhart
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The title of Seiji Yamamoto's presentation was Chateau RyuGin: Reshaping Classic japanese Cuisine. After his video demonstrations he began he proceeded to do a live demonstration of his dish, Chateau RyuGin. Yamamoto, who works strictly with seasonal ingredients offers a technology driven cuisine with a playful edge. This dish, a clam and beet soup garnished with Szechuan leaves and sea urchin, provided a prime example of that as well as highlighting Yamamoto's interest in all facets of wine.

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The initial step of the process was to take a long, whiplike burdock root and cut it into 6x2cm pieces. One of these pieces is taken for each dish and turned to the shape of a wine-cork. This cork-like burdock root is then branded with a hot iron to leave a logo as with a regular wine-cork. After the "cork" is cooked in dashi with fresh ginger one flat side is dipped in port and Tasmanian berries to stain it.

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gallery_8158_5171_76719.jpgeGullet Society member Michael Harlan Turkell taking photos behind Chef Yamamoto's assistant.

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The soup is made by frying potatoes in walnut oil before smoking them with walnut chips; simmering clams with kombu, water and sake then separating the meat when they open; pureeing beets with the smoked potatoes, clams and clam juice.

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To begin assembly, sea urchin is placed in a martini glass.

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The soup is poured into a wine bottled labeled for the occasion and "corked."

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At service, the wine bottle is uncorked and the "wine" is poured over the sea urchin that has been garnished also with Szechuan leaves, edible flowers and chives.

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Chef Yamamoto presenting his finished dish.

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1970 is the year of Chef Yamamoto's birth.

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

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Share on other sites

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!

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

Judith, that sounds like it must have been an absolutely marvelous experience on so many levels. Thanks for sharing! I will have much more on Chef Yamamoto and Chef Aduriz soon. As for Andoni Luis Aduriz, I have yet to have the pleasure of dining at Mugaritz, but I have come to be a great fan of Chef Aduriz as a person.

Dear Doc; Your observations about Chef Andoni are on target. We regard him not only an exceptional chef in today's world but an amazing human being. We cannot speak more highly of him in any capacity. There are few young people in the world with such a great heart, humanity and culinary talent. He is very very special. Judith Gebhart

Indeed.

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

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George Mendes waiting to set up for David Burke's presentation, Salts: Aging, Brining and Flavoring

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

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What a wealth of information and inspiration.

Being locked into the "Italian" box, this has been a breath of fresh air.

Thanks, Judith. The thing is that I have barely touched upon he sights, sounds and insights that were part of this great event. I don't think it is possible for this one person to truly do it justice. There is still plenty to come!

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

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When I first saw the topic, Salts: Aging, Brining and Flavoring for David Burke's presentation, my first thought was that maybe this was a presentation that I could miss. I'm glad I didn't follow my first thought as this was absolutely fascinating and delicious! I have not yet had the pleasure of dining at one of Chef Burke's restaurants and the night before was the first time I had ever tried anything that he has cooked when I had the luxurious Wagyu beef and langoustine dish at the Starchef's dinner. Nevertheless, I have read much about Chef Burke, especially his fascination and abilities with meat. If you haven't already read it, Turning the Tables: Restaurants From the Inside Out by Steven Shaw has a great chapter on Burke's creation of the "Bronx Chop." An excerpt containing the most relevant part can be found here. This presentation only reinforced in my mind why David Burke has a reputation as one of the most thoughtful and creative chefs around on this most primal culinary ingredient.

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Salt, in particular, pink Himalayan salt, is an integral component of Chef Burke's meat cookery. He has built an aging room out o blocks of this salt, in which he ages cuts of prime beef for up to 80 days. Chef Burke showed examples of dry vs wet-aged beef as well as samples of variously aged meats from his salt room. gallery_8158_5171_87548.jpgUnlike conventionally dry-aged meats that get covered with various molds during the aging process, even the 80 day aged beef was pristine in appearance leaving little to waste. The salt acts as a barrier to microbe growth and affords an extra element of humidity control.gallery_8158_5171_104210.jpg

I did say the presentation was delicious. That is because Chef Burke cooked samples of these steaks in front of the audience...gallery_8158_5171_78792.jpggallery_8158_5171_54879.jpggallery_8158_5171_73611.jpg

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...and provided samples to taste. gallery_8158_5171_76703.jpggallery_8158_5171_20409.jpg

gallery_8158_5171_21352.jpgChef Burke's knowledge of meat and his creativity certainly does not stop with steak. He also prepared a "Lobster Steak," a decadent looking dish a recipe for which can be found in the Congress program. Alas, I did not stay for this part as I went to see the Pacojet Competition...

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

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Pacojet, the device that revolutionized ice cream for the restaurant industry sponsored a recipe competition that culminated in a cook-off at the ICC. Entries were submitted with the top three recipes in two different categories - sweet and savory - selected and the entrants brought to the ICC in NYC. The winner of each category as selected by the judges at the ICC would win a Pacojet.

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The judges:

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Katsuya Fukushima, Johnny Iuzzini, David Arnold, Jordan Kahn, Michael Laiskonis and Paul Liebrandt

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

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Pacojet Competition Continued...

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Boris Portnoy of Campton Place in San Francisco starting to plate his dish

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Seth Siegel-Gardner of Gordon Ramsey in NYC plating his

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Michael Zebrowski of Morris Hotel in N.J. with his sweet corn ice cream.

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Alex Talbot of Ideas in Food starting his plating.

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The plating and sampling of Talbot's dish.

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Grilled Potato Ice Cream by Alex Talbot

The full dish consisted of grilled potato ice cream, on a relish of cucumber and hot dog braised potatoes, Asian pear apple and grilled potato crisps along with Steve Bliss' smoked Steelhead trout roe. This was the only dish that I got to taste and since I am friends with Alex, the one I focused on. It was delicious with the sum of the parts better than each individually. The ice cream was relatively dense, but flavorful and true to its main ingredient. For this to not have won, the winners must have been truly exceptional. This was the first taste of the cooking of Alex and Aki that I have had, but I certainly hope it won't be the last.

The winners of the event and proud owners of new Pacojets were Michael Zebrowski in the Sweet category for his Sweet Corn Ice Cream and Seth Siegel-Gardner in the Savory category for his Pickled Beet Sorbet - Nasturtium Seed Yogurt - Pine Needle Smoked Salmon.

In actuality, all six of the contestants were winners for just getting there. By looks alone, the competition appeared to be pretty fierce with each dish just as spectacular as the next.

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

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A few images from the Sponsor Exhibits:

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Washington County's Farm to Chef Express selling artisanal produce directly from farms to restaurants

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Japanese Wagyu Master beef provided plenty of tasty samples.

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Vito oil filtration system to be put directly in the deep fryer to filter and clean oil. The idea is a very interesting one from this German company, but I cannot personally attest to its value or effectiveness. I did like the photo though :biggrin:

Unfortunately, I did not take many photos of the exhibits though I may have a few more later on. The exhibits were more numerous than last year's Congress while continuing the high level of quality present then.

In addition to food samples such as those at the Wagyu Master, Farm to Chef Express, Wisconsin Cheese, Foods from Spain, Brooklyn Brewery and other exhibitors, the Congress provided lunch "tapas" on each day with one day foods from southern US chefs and another Spanish plates.

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

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Concurrent with the Monday lunch break was a hands-on workshop with Mixologist Jason Kosmas of Employees Only in NYC entitled Culinary Approaches to Classic Mixology Featuring Chambord and Woodford Reserve.

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Jason Kosmas is in the white jacket. I did not catch his assistant's name

Kosmas recounted a bit of the history of "the Golden Age" of the American cocktail. One of the most important elements of that age was the necessity of bartenders producing many of their own ingredients such as bitters, tonics, juices, vermouths and even aging their own whiskey. In the modern age, those techniques and special qualities fell by the wayside with America's penchant for mass-production and convenience. As a result we saw the proliferation of industrial cocktail mixes and canned juices. With the modern renaissance of the American cocktail many of the old techniques are being rediscovered thanks to the excellent documentation and foundation put down by the original American mixology masters.

Kosmas' approach to mixology is much the same as a kitchen chef's through preparation of ingredients, layering flavors and textures and building a visually stimulating, balanced and complex beverage.

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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

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ICC Culinary Director George Mendes and his mentor, David Bouley as Chef Bouley arrives backstage to prepare for his Demonstration

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

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David Bouley prepping for his upcoming presentation

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

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A culinary hero of mine from the time I first tasted his magical and unforgettable chocolate/hazelnut bon-bons with pop rocks a few years ago in Barcelona, Oriol Balaguer was next on-stage to present his Concept Cake, a dessert blend of sweet and savory. Within his Barcelona production facility, Balaguer and his team explore a different dessert concept each month. That concept then occupies a focused platform display in his Japan and Barcelona boutiques. The particular concept cake demonstrated at the ICC was an Apple Tart. Though simple and familiar sounding, Balaguer's tart is a unique blend of ingredients and technique unmistakably his.

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Balaguer made streusel dough with equal parts cake flour and almond flour, refrigerated then grated it.

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He formed it as a base in a square mold and baked it at 160C until colored (about 20 minutes).

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Balaguer made an apple puree with gelatin and pectin dissolved in it.

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He poured the strained mixture on top of the streusel base and gave it a brief freeze in a blast chiller.

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The sides of the mold were heated briefly with a blow torch to ease removal of the mold from the cake.

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Sugar was sprinkled on top and caramelized with a torch.

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Dried fava beans were ground up and sprinkled on top of the cake.

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He used Philadelphia cream cheese that was soft frozen and shaped into quenelles.

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The cake was topped with gelatin coated arugula leaves and salt and pepper.

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Voila - Tarta de Manzana!

I got to taste some afterwards - delicious and complex.

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

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