At the end of the day its all just food…..

Starchefs ICC 2009 ..Day 2

The strong start of the congress this year continued on day 2 and 3 with a line up of culinary all stars and demos that pretty much kept most of us in our seats…. Unfortunatelly between taking video , pictures and taking occasional notes i missed some of the glory in pictures… I soon realized that my new Nikon D3000 will need a 50-200mm and a Macro to get all the beauty…What can you do….
Well lets see …
Day 2 Monday…

In anticipation of a strong follow up to Gagnaires magic on sunday , the top pastry trio of Sam Mason, Johnny Iuzzini and Alex Stupak came on stage for a combined effort to do a take on a classic american dessert …Unfortunately 3 creative masterminds in one room sometimes dont seem to agree on what direction to take it (Good for me and for you) so the collaborative project was abandoned and as Sam Mason explained each chef presented his version of a modernized American Classic .. Johnny Iuzzini starts up with a Dirt Cup he made using aerated chocolate and gummy chocolate noodles, created with a machine he brought in that has allowed him to produce “noodles” without the implication of the usual technique… Sam Mason is known for his love for good food and good drinks at Taylor so taking the stage he demonstrated how to infuse BBQ flavor into vodka with the use of liquid nitrogen , subsequently infusing that taste by compressing watermelon… Last but certainly not least , in a demo from creative juggernaut Alex Stupak , Apple pie gets broken down into elements and then reconstructed in a very impressive way that is pure proof that modernizing classics doesn’t mean sacrificing taste in the altar or novelty … In the following open discussion Iuzzini outlined the culinary conversation that goes on between chefs this days and the exchange of technique and information….
Liquid Nitrogen.11

Jose Andres follows up with an impressive take on American Classics …New england clam chowder, Corn on the cob , Eggs and ham all re imagined by Jose and his creative team at Minibar…Jose also explained the process involved when aproaching classics or revamping dishes and gave his philosophy on creative issues and the use of simplicity in cooking and in creating… Simple ideas from this demo are already affecting the way we do things …His technique for flash cooking vacuum sealed clams is pure genius …A strong demonstration that didnt fail to bring up the upcoming Demo of Arzak on day 3 as Jose praised his fellow spaniard that was just a few feet away watching Joses demonstration ….

Jose on stage with Minibar team....

Jose on stage with Minibar team....

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Masaharu Morimotto takes center stage for a demo that involves butchering fish…Last year it was monkfish head to tail this year it was 5 different types of fish and preparations to go with it.. Live fluke ,Aji, Hamo, eel and Hamachi all cut using his trusty nenox … Watching Japanese technique on fish is magic , especially when you have embraced Cutting fish with japanese knifes like i do on regular basis…And thats how you see first hand how a japanese chef removes scales with a knife instead of a scaler so that the flesh is maintained in pristine condition…

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With only 45 minutes to spare for his demo morimoto made this into an exiting and educating demo while demonstrating a variety of very well prepared dishes …

Aji...

Aji...

Eel...

Eel...

Fluke sashimi.....

Fluke sashimi.....

Hamachi  collarbone....

Hamachi collarbone....

Hamo soup and triple fried eel spines.....

Hamo soup and triple fried eel spines.....

It was a pleasure meeting him offstage as well for a picture…

Stella in hand .....

Stella in hand .....

Restaurateur Rohini Dey and Chef Maneet Chauhan of Vermilion (Chicago, New York) came in next in a demo on fusion and how it stands today and their take on it , demonstrating their approach into combining latin and indian flavors and technique… I did not watch all of this demo unfortunately because i had to take a breath from watching 3 amazing demonstrations back to back, but for the most part it was very very good to see a new take on combining 2 seemingly different worlds and create something new…The Tandoori skirt steak was an attractive plating when it was all set and done…

Tandoori skirt steak...

Tandoori skirt steak...

Tandoori take 2....

Tandoori take 2....

Cocktail royalty Audrey Saunders and London-based Tony Conigliaro took main stage next. The two discussed their exploration of aroma in cocktails and guided the audience through their joint evolution of aroma delivery methods from house-made tinctures to essence-infused eggs, mists, and using carbonation and dry ice. The two have experimented hydrosols and blending their own natural essences to blend into their concoctions… Unfortunately i missed the biggest part of this demo due to important phone calls that had to be made…

With the phone on silent mode and the anticipation for the next event building i took my seat : Josh Emett of Gordon Ramsay at the London in New York took stage to demonstrate a broke down of a New Zealand lamb from head to tail showing the Main Stage audience four different preparations for four different cuts. His take on how to serve a bigger portion without messing with your margins by combining an expensive cut with a lesser cut, like rack and shoulder was a useful idea . Emett explained “when doing butchery”, don’t be afraid to wrestle around with it.” and i couldnt agree more… Emett also described in brief the difference between American and New Zealand-raised animals, the former raised on corn feed and the latter on grass.
To close the day ,one of the most anticipated events of the day was “Modern Cuisine: A Generational Discussion” with Grant Achatz, Daniel Boulud, and Pierre Gagnaire. It was a conversation between three renowned chefs, covering topics from the art of opening the first to opening multiple restaurants,inspiration, and conversing on what is American cuisine today . Gagnaire proposed that the US was so large and diverse it’s too difficult to represent on what is American Cuisine today , as America is a diverse and multicultural mix that is hard to “nail” down….
It is also exciting to know that Pierre Gagnaire is opening a restaurant coming soon in Las Vegas …..

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Listening to Grant Achatz.....

Listening to Grant Achatz.....

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What followed next was a great dinner at Marea with Chris Windus ,Chris (3PO) and Danny and a lot of socializing …. And the day was so perfect that we couldnt wait to get in for day three the next morning……

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