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

Starchefs ICC 2009 …day 3…..

After a great dinner at Marea the night before and a quick coffee with Chris we decided to visit jb prince…Let me tell you about jb prince.. There is no limit to how much one can spend when visiting a store like that ,filled with “toys” for chefs… We picked up a few small items and head out to return to the Park Avenue Armory to catch up before the first event for the day… Control is easy to say , hard to do sometimes….

Chris Windus in his favorite section......

Chris Windus in his favorite section......

We walked into the conference and grabbed one more excellent latte , while chatting with chef Dirk Flanigan from Chicago about restaurants and food, the Dinner at Marea the previous night and getting the inside story from a fellow chef that had the pleasure to have dinner at PER SE the night before….

The day began with legendary Spanish Chef Juan Mari Arzak, taking center Stage to talk about his restaurant, his philosophy, and to demonstrate two of his signature dishes. Arzak spoke of his restaurant, which he calls his home…

He went deep into talking about the evolution of the restaurant and his daughter Elena , her decision to follow the family business, the present and the past . He described the flavor laboratory he began 15 years ago with Ferran Adria, which now contains over 1,600 products from all over the world, neatly catalogued in a computer database.

Arzak and his chefs demonstrated two dishes, including his 2001 Space Odyssey-inspired Lunar Rock and his use of mojos .The results were stunning . Arzak described how he got inspired from the movie 2001 :A space odyssey , and demonstrated the complete dish and the special “platform” plate , complete with led lights …

lunar rock 1

mojo 1

It was amazing to watch the master and it was even more inspiring to talk to him and take pictures with him off stage … He was really intrested to meet a Greek among all these chefs and was trying to describe two off his favorite ingredients : Yogurt and Kaffir Lime …. Whats greater than striking even a 3 minute conversation with a living legend?


Closing his presentation Arzak ended with a few words that made an impression :Always be honest,” Arzak said “The kitchen is freedom.”

Charles Phan of The Slanted Door in San Francisco did a demonstration about street food …I did not get to see all of his demo

But i did get to watch Paco Torreblanca and his demo displaying some of the techniques he uses at Pasteleria Totel….Creating a faux oyster by molding an oyster shell using a heat gun and acetate only to create a faux oyster all with pearl and with a complete look and fill of an oyster dish…. He also demonstrated a “mock egg” that was created out of chocolateand filled with chocolate mousse and sugar”caviar” to appear like the savory egg custard in the shell with caviar…. Both demos along with the display of creating free form (resembled flowers) from spreading , combing and using a palette knife on chocolate …I took the video

And on to the highlight of the day on what proved to be one of the most complete takes on the theme of this conference ,”what is American cuisine”…. Sean Brock chef from Mc Cradys has displayed 3 platings of substance ,depth and culinary history , while employing ingredients of the past harvested from his Farm Project and techniques of the future inspired by his constant search of creating better food… Shrimp and grits , the garden and Hoppin john 3 old dishes re imagined from a culinary genius…He also talked about the restaurant , the farm and gave a background of his ingredients and how he is planning to expand the farming project by adding 4 acres dedicated to the heirloom seeds and plants of another era …..
Sean Brock brought a lot of substance and depth to the subject American cuisine while displaying how old can be new while maintaining character and flavor profile… Pictures here are a million words…
seans shrimp and grits

"The garden"

The garden...again..

The garden...

Hoppin John....

Hoppin John....

Is there any doubt why i insist of calling Sean the Next great American Chef..?

And after this great demo , last but not least Dave Arnold and Nils Noren closed the Main Stage with a knock out demonstration of their latest kitchen experimentations …..extracting pecan butter and oil using a centrifuge;
“gluing” thin sheets of lamb and tuna on a warped board to create a marbled lamb/tuna “mokume ” thin slice;
clarifying with pectin X; and distilling moonshine using a rotary evaporator.

The duo demonstrated how to sedate a black sea bass with clove extract and then butchered it alive displaying a technique that involved severing the spine then inserting a wire from an incision close to the tail through the spinal cord ….
The fresh flesh also went into a dish with tuna spine jelly,brunoise celery, pecan yokan, and yuzu. It was served in the tunas vertebrae with the rib bones spiking out after it was boiled in Oxyclean to make it stark white.

They concluded their demonstration and the Congress with a synchronized audience-group shot of Skoal … This went down as a group and pictures were taken by Docsconz and stitched and can be found in their blog Or by clicking the picture …

That wrapped up the 2009 ICC Starchefs …..Thanks to Antoinette and Will once again for another great event ….

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