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docsconz

StarChefs International Chefs Congress

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It is good to be in the right place at the right time. That happened to me this week, when I serendipitously found myself in position to cover the 1st annual Starchefs.com International Chefs Congress: A Kitchen Without Boundaries for the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts and Letters. I had the time and I had the interest so I leapt at the opportunity to attend this Congress.

Spain has Madrid Fusion. Italy has Identita Golose. The U.S. has some very noteworthy Conferences for food professionals like the CIA's World of Flavors and IACP amongst others, exist in the U.S., but they involve all sorts of food professionals and not just chefs. As such, I am not aware of anything quite like this in the U.S.

The line-up of presenters and attendees was quite impressive indeed. The demonstrations were held at The Covenant House in NYC, a location that had a good auditorium (other than air conditioning :shock: ) and that allowed the participants to cook back and on-stage. Over the course of time I will attempt to provide my photos and impressions of this amazing event and invite others who attended to add any comments and/or photos of their own. I will also attempt to any questions as best I can.

The Congress started with a welcome cocktail party in the downstairs bar area of Morimoto on Monday the 18th. It was a great affair with plenty of fine drinks including verrry dangerous cocktail with vodka (I believe) and Valrhona's Xocopili spicy chocolate and some excellent sushi from Morimoto including plenty of bluefin tuna. Following are some photos of that event.

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A general view from the stairs.

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Makato Okuwa, Masahiro Morimoto and Mark Andelbradt of Morimoto. Okuwa and Andelbradt received New York Rising Star Awards from Starchefs.com.

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Zak Pelaccio of 5 Ninth and Fatty Crab, Will Goldfarb of Room 4 Dessert and Franklin Becker of Brasserie were also awardees.

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Ruben Garcia of minibar and Susur Lee of Susur and Lee

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Michael Turner, Ruben Garcia and Jose Andres of minibar flanking Albert Adria of El Bulli and Juan Sole of Sole Graells, producer of the Adria's Texturas line of products amongst others.

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Adria, Sole, Andres and Goldfarb.

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Adria and Davide Scabin of Combal.0

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Susur Lee and Sergi Arola of La Broche.

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Chris Cosentino of Incanto and Andres.

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Me with Albert Adria and Sergi Arola.

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Scabin and Goldfarb.

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Myself with Pascal Barbot of L'Astrance.

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Alex Urena of Urena. Alex was also an awardee.

While most of these chefs and others went to a special dinner at the James Beard House I veered off to dinner at Perry St.

Much more to come...

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'doc....

Thank youy, thank you, thank you!!!!!

Why are you guys all the over here instead of the NYC forum?

Love it anyways!

Thanks!!!

Can;t wait for the rest.

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'doc....

Thank youy, thank you, thank you!!!!!

Why are you guys all the over here instead of the NYC forum?

Love it anyways!

Thanks!!!

Can;t wait for the rest.

It's my pleasure, Ted.

I am putting this here rather than NY, because this was much more than a NY or regional event as I hope to make clear.

I'll be working on much more today.

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The morning of September 19th was replete with energy from the buzzing of the attendees at the registration table to the activity in the backstage kitchen to last minute A-V fixes to the temperature of New York and the auditorium. The program was audacious, somewhat daunting and full of promise. Starchefs.com was not pulling any punches with this, their first ever International Chefs Congress. They were going to pack as much as they possibly could into this impossibly brief period of time. Amazingly, as I hope to convey, they succeeded beyond anyone's (or maybe almost anyone's) expectations.

Peter Elliot, food editor and critic at large for Bloomberg L.P. was to serve as the Master of Ceremonies for the Congress. He did a great job throughout. His first job was to introduce, Antoinette Bruno, the CEO and Editor in Chief of Starchefs.com for her welcome talk.

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With Elliot in the background, Bruno highlighted the theme of the Congress as "Flavor and the American Spirit", noting "a renewed focus on flavor, and culinary techniques are no longer an end in and of themselves, but rather a means to an end." The subtitle of the Congress, "A Kitchen Without Boundaries" stems from the fact that American chefs "are not tied to strict cultural traditions in the kitchen, but are free to interpret cuisines from every country in the world." She tied in the roles of those chefs visiting the Congress from outside the US since "they embody the American spirit in that they have dared to defy the boundaries of their own cultures."

With that rousing welcome, the Congress was off and running.

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Who else to be a keynote speaker for the first ever International Chefs Congress in the US, but eGullet's own Anthony Bourdain?

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Bourdain backstage. I enjoyed my opportunity to finally meet him in person.

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Three eGullet members on stage - Bourdain, Michael Harlan Turk (photographing professionally for Starchefs.com) and myself. :smile:

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The audience raptly hanging on TB's every fucking word.

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The man, himself, holding court on his topic of "Team-Building & Crisis Management", during which he described the professional kitchen as "the last true meritocracy", in which the only thing that matters is the ability to stand the heat both literally and figuratively and to get the job done. He described several elements that go into what he looks for in a good kitchen employee including resiliency, the ability to take responsibility, work well with others and have a sense of humor , "because if you don't have a sense of humor in this business, you might as well get out now...or go work for (a famous American chef somewhere in the middle part of the country :smile: )."

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Albert Adria - Nature as Inspiration

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Albert Adria is amongst other things, famous for his demonstrations. Though he did not do any directly in front of us, he did explain a film that showed the production of two desserts based on inspirations from natural forms.

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eGullet member, Jose Andres, provided translation services. One moment Adria switched to speaking in English. Without missing a beat, Andres continued with a translation back to Spanish that brought the house down. From then on, Adria stuck with Spanish.

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Photographed from the video, "Colibri" or "The Hummingbird", a creation of Albert Adria's at El Bulli, utilizing innovative techniques like liquid nitrogen for making molds and overcoming production obstacles in the process. His colibri is made from elderberry flower ice cream for the body, rosewater syrup-soaked sponge cake for a base, black sesame praline encased in caramelized isomalt and glucose for the hummingbird head (this truly incredible technique was a joy to watch) and liquid nitrogen cooled lychee juice for the wings. After assembly, the dish is finished with elderberry flower gelatin, sprigs of elderberry flower, dehydrated yuzu powder, caramelized violets and a little bit of cocoa syrup. The use of elderberry flower and violet ties the dessert in with the hummingbird's own diet of flower nectars. The audience sat in hushed attention throughout the video and description.

In addition the video showed several other desserts including a detailed demonstration of the dessert "The Rock", for which Adria showed the use of freeze-drying techniques.

While it may have lacked the immediacy of a live demonstartion, the video beautifully captured and conveyed the techniques and artistry of this master.

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Sweet reports, doc. If you don't mind me asking, did you pay for the industry pass out of pocket, or did eG foot the bill, or did you get for free?

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Sweet reports, doc.  If you don't mind me asking, did you pay for the industry pass out of pocket, or did eG foot the bill, or did you get for free?

I was offered a media pass. It was amazing and gratifying to note who and how many of these people from the organizers of the event to the staff to the participating chefs and attendees were quite familiar with eGullet, whether already members or simply lurkers. While many do not have or take the time to post, the number who read these fora are many. I was happy and fortunate that this event happened to coincide perfectly with my schedule.

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Great stuff so far, 'doc!

keep it coming!!!

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Guts and Glory: A Discussion on Offal

with Chefs Anthony Bourdain, Fergus Henderson and Chris Cosentino

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Fergus Henderson of St. John Restaurant, Anthony Bourdain and Chris Cosentino of Incanto, are considered to be three of the culinary world's greatest exponents of nose to tail cooking and eating with Henderson having written the book considered by many to be definitive on the subject. Bourdain is noted for helping to demystify and popularize this form of dining amongst the cognizant American public and beyond, while Cosentino has developed (a much deserved) reputation for creating succulent dishes using offal at his San Francisco restaurant. Of the three, his is the only one whose cooking of offal I have so far had the pleasure to experience.

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They discussed uses for all kinds of offal products, including those from fur, feather and fin creatures. One organ that had so far failed to ignite the interest of Henderson was lung, that is, at least until Cosentino described a method of pressing lung to compact it and alter the texture.

Amongst other specific organs touched upon was blood, used for dishes such as the French boudin noir and the Italian sanguinaccio, a pig's blood based pudding that I grew up with in Brooklyn eating as a dessert treat. Unfortunately when asked of the panel and the audience, no-one was able to identify a place in NYC where the real thing could currently be obtained. That may be a topic for another thread. :wink:

The most popular offal, at least at this conference appeared to be foie gras, as it was much used in subsequent demonstrations as well as a hands-on workshop that was offered at the Congress led by Izzy Yanay of Hudson Valley Foie Gras and Joel Antunes of Joel in Atlanta. Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to attend that as the hands-on workshops were concurrent with the main lecture/demonstrations.

Another workshop that I unfortunately was not able to make it to was Chris Cosentino's workshop on tripe. This would have been a perfect follow-up to a discussion of tripe held by the trio above during the present discussion. Each bemoaned the difficulty of getting unbleached tripe, a product each felt to be far superior for most uses to the bleached product.

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Great coverage. I had hoped to attend but couldn't carve out the time, so thanks for letting me attend vicariously. More please!

You look SO happy -- even downright giddy -- in the photo with Albert Adria and Sergi Arola. I'm glad you had fun!

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Great coverage. I had hoped to attend but couldn't carve out the time, so thanks for letting me attend vicariously. More please!

You look SO happy  -- even downright giddy -- in the photo with Albert Adria and Sergi Arola. I'm glad you had fun!

Frankly, I felt like a kid in a candy store. The whole thing was a pure blast. The irony is that I planned to come down to NYC at that time anyway. Other than staying with a few prior-planned engagements, this fit perfectly into my arrangements.

I can't say enough about the staff and the chefs. They were all extremely helpful, personable and very friendly. As an amateur, I could not have felt more warmly welcomed in this environment.

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After a very complete morning it was time for a break. The sponsors court was open with many a good edible and drinkable sample.

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On the way over I noticed Albert Adria chatting with Spanish wine and food expert Gerry Dawes.

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The Spanish theme continued with samples of fine Jamon Iberico. Also available from Spain were samples of cheeses and wines.

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Samples of Prosciutto di Parma and three grades of Parmiggiano-Reggiano were not to be ignored either.

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Wylie, Tono and Dewey from WD-50 circling through the exhibits.

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Preparing samples of foie gras and duck from Hudson Valley Foie Gras.

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Pierre Herme

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Peter Elliot and Patricia Yeo.

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Winston Industries CVap Oven. This machine sounds very interesting for precise temperature control cooking without the plastic. The price even appears to be somewhat tempting for the ambitious home cook. Does anyone have experience with one of these? If so, I would love to read about it in another thread. Other equipment vendors of interest to me included Hobart and Pacojet. The latter is of a size and price that allows it to be a consideration for the ambitious home cook that is either greatly motivated for it or not on too tight a budget. Tempting, but I am not there yet on either count.

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Bourdain and Herme signing their books. A number of othe chefs did so as well including Daniel Boulud, Susur Lee, Jose Andres and Frederick Fau amongst others.

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A meeting of the (culinary) minds with Susur Lee, Katsuya Fukushima of minibar and Wylie Dufresne.

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Pascal Barbot doing some shopping.

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Oh boy; oh boy. This is a real treat. Thanks for sharing, docsconz.

Dianne.

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Doc, this is good. I don't even need to add anything!!!! May be Pichet Ong's workshop on Thai Jewels, if I get around to it.

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You and Paul Liebrandt's croquant

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You eating Davide Scabin's Campari "CyberEgg"

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Ha! Thanks, Michael. I think I might have a few in which you snuck into besides what I posted earlier. No fair on the Andres scoop! I hadn't got that far yet :laugh: Those are some seriously great photos, especially the Andres shot. Thanks for sharing them and please share more as you can.

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Doc, this is good.  I don't even need to add anything!!!! May be Pichet Ong's workshop on Thai Jewels, if I get around to it.

Ya-Roo, I would very much appreciate anything you can add on that or anything else. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend everything and missed a good part of Wednesday afternoon, although I did have good reasons.

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Okay, I've got stuff from the Pierre Herme demo, although not really nice pictures. Doc, you are forgetting about the after parties.

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Pascal Barbot - L'Astrance

I will say that though I have not eaten widely in Paris or France, I have eaten well. The most enjoyable meal I have eaten there happens to have been at Pascal Barbot's L'Astrance. As such, it was a real pleasure for me to meet him and observe and photograph his demonstration.

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Barbot along with his translator, noted pastry chef, Nick Malgieri.

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Barbot preparing a fois gras and mushroom galette.

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Video image of the dish's base, "pate a brick" to provide a smooth crunch and verjus-marinated American foie gras. The foie is not cooked, beyond the acidic marination by the verjus.

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The foie is sliced moderately thin with a bottom layer added on top of the pate. Of note, in the background of the bottom picture is eGullet member Louisa Chu sitting in the audience and watching the video screen for the fine details of Barbot's work.

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The chef begins layering thin slices of large champignons de Paris that had been marinated in lemon juice, orange zest, hazelnut oil, fleur de sel and pepper.

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He also made a stacked tomato and sorrel salad using a variety of heirloom tomatos. One that I had never seen before was a huge "pineapple" tomato that was mostly yellow with streaks of red throughtout. It appeared to be very meaty.

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The finished galette served with lemon marmalade.

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The tomato and sorrel salad. I am sorry that I don't have more details for this dish.

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Pascal Barbot unwinding backstage immediately after his presentation. He is with Susur Lee and the recently married Ken Oringer of Clio.

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Okay, I've got stuff from the Pierre Herme demo, although not really nice pictures.  Doc, you are forgetting about the after parties.

Ya-Roo, I have only just finished the first presentation of the afternoon of the first day! Hold on the parties come later - at least the ones I attended! :laugh:

Lots more to come. I'm working as fast as I can. :wink::smile:

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Norman Van Aken - The Origins of Fusion

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Chef Van Aken of Norman's Restaurants, a pioneer in Fusion and New World Cuisine, spoke about its origens and prepared a dish incorporating the varied aspects of multiple culinary cultures. . His own particular brand of fusion mixes elements of European, African and Caribbean traditions and cultures.

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Chef Van Aken and his team preparing their dish.

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Poulet a la Creole - Curried Chicken with Pineapple, Cucumber and Coconut.

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Chef Van Aken backstage autographing a chef's hat for a kitchen volunteer.

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