I recently had the great pleasure of covering and attending the StarChefs 2016 International Chefs Congress in Brooklyn as part of the press. It's the second time I've been to StarChefs and every time is an inspriational experience. It always has some of the best chefs in the world, amazing panels and incredible workshops.
The theme this year was "What is Progress" and focused on "Defining success in an age of influence and opportunity". It was a very inspirational conference and several people that are making a big difference in their communities were speakers. I highly recommend attending the conference if you are in the food industry in any capacity.
There's too much going on at the conference, but here's some of the highlights I had.
One of my favorite workshops was run by Daniela Soto-Innes, the head chef at Cosme, in NYC.
Chef Soto-Innes discussed how she has brought over many of the techniques and flavors from her Mexican hertiage to the various restaurants she has worked at in the city. It was a very informative and inspirational look at how drawing on your heritage and history can make you a better cook.
The demo we participated in involved the process of making several different moles. From roasting the peppers and spices to simmering the mole, it was an in-depth look at the complexity that goes into traditional moles. She even brought in one of her "tortilla girls" to make fresh tortillas for us.
I'm not sure what I expected from Giuseppe and his workshop on "vodka drinks", but an impassioned discourse on history, physics (Feynman, hooray!), cocktails, innovation, New York history, and creatively wasn't it. It was my favorite talk of the conference and I'm not sure if I'm more excited to go to Suffolk Arms to drink or to try and chat with him.
I definitely came away with a better appreciation for vodka-based drinks and I love hearing from people who are so passionate about their work. I especially liked his "appletini" with fresh juices from granny smith apples and fresh grated horseradish as garnish. It was such a unique and unusual drink that tasted amazing.
It's hard not to love a workshop that involves eating lobster!
Chef Kilgore has a focus on modernist cooking and in the workshop he used several of the tools I was familiar with including sous vide machines, a CVap machine, a whipping siphon, and the new Control Freak from PolyScience. It was a memorable workshop and it was very helpful to listen to a top chef discuss how he conceives his dishes.
They were some really innovative preparations, I might have to steal the puffed squash ribbons for a future cookbook!
I loved everyone chipping in to plate the lobster as well.
After the workshop I walked out and the Lobster From Maine booth was right there...you can't have enough lobster!
Chef Conlon is passionate about Macau cuisine, something I knew nothing about. While he demoed several dishes he talked about what makes Macau cuisine unique and how he emersed himself in it.
I really enjoyed the "Equal Ratios" lecture by Kara Newman, Joaquín Simó, and Lynnette Marrero. Both of their bars have moved to the top of my list to hit up in New York!
Hard to beat CVAP venison from Winston Industries.
Chef Manish Mehrotra from Indian Accent had a great demo of traditional Indian food that you can't find in Indian restaurants, just Indian homes.
Chris Shepard and Bobby Heugel talked about how bars and restaurants can really give back to the community. They've raised almost a million dollars through events and their bars, just amazing.
Spike Gjerde from the Woodberry Kitchen talked about what it means to cook from the Chesapeake Bay.
And, of course, it's always a good time for a Wonton Battle!!!