Once again, Starchefs gathered together some of the most talented chefs from around the world to share ideas and techniques at the 5th Annual International Chefs Congress.
The event kicked off with a panel discussion on this year's theme: Art vs. Craft. Present on the panel were chefs Dan Barber, David Kinch, and Thomas Keller, with Michael Rhulman moderating. The discussion brought up some thoughtful points about intent and perception. While Barber and Kinch were willing to entertain the notion of chef/artist, Keller adamantly stated that he was a craftsman, not an artist. The consensus seemed to be that it was hubris for chefs to label themselves as "artists", though it was OK for the consumer to do so. The lack of a radically opposed point of view, which would have added another dimension to the conversation, became apparent when Barber admitted that the panel was mostly ''vanilla' on the subject.
Here are most of the dishes prepared on the main stage over the course of three days:
DAN HUNTER Royal Mail Dunkeld, Australia
Giving Art and Craft in Cooking the Royal Treatment
Chef Hunter is a protégé of Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz. His cooking is driven by a passion for indigenous Australian ingredients, some of which he brought from his garden to share with the audience. Included were herbs largely unknown to North America: saltbush and bonefruit. His dishes reflect a strong sense of place; or terroir.
BERNARD LAHOUSSE Foodpairing, Belgium
DOMINIQUE PERSOONE The Chocolate Line, Belgium
Chocolate is Rock n Roll
Lahousse, a bio-engineer and author of the interactive website www.foodpairing.be, and Persoone, an outrageous 'shock-o-latier' and author of "The Roots of Chocolate", teamed up with Belcolade for this engaging presentation. The audience was presented with boxes that contained four pieces of chocolate and instructed to eat each one while watching a video and exposed to an evocative scent. For example, we tasted a chocolate filled with grass cream while watching a clip of a lawn being mowed and the room filled with the scent of spring flowers. The intention was to engage multiple senses in order to heighten the experience of flavor.
filled chocolates; clockwise from top right:
grass cream • oyster liquor • chocolate lipstick
rainwater • lime salt tequila
TOM AIKENS Tom Aikens Restaurant, London
Culinary Notes from the UK
Chef Aikens celebrates the best of British ingredients with dishes from his eponymous restaurant.
CHARLIE PALMER Aureole, NYC
Translating Creativity from Mentor to Protégé
Chef Palmer's protégés prepared dishes using two of his favorite ingredients: duck and foie gras.
ELIZABETH FALKNER Orson, San Francisco
GABRIELLE HAMILTON Prune, NYC
Art Meets Craft
Falkner, a pastry chef, and Hamilton, a savory chef, switch roles and prepare imaginative versions of American classics.
MOURAD LAHLOU Aziza, San Francisco
Putting Soul on the Plate
Introduced by Antoinette Bruno as a chef who cooks with soul, Chef Lahlou prepared 4 modern Moroccan dishes.
JORDAN KAHN Red Medicine, Los Angeles
La Revolution Surrealiste
From the moment that pastry chef Jordan Kahn's video began, we knew that we were witnessing something extraordinary. The three part atmospheric film noir blended chiaroscuro images of Kahn preparing three desserts inspired by Rothko, Chopin, and Dali, with staccato clips from old films, provocative text, adumbrative images, and evocative music. The audience was so mesmerized that we hardly noticed Kahn quietly preparing the dishes on the darkened stage. Without uttering a word, Kahn effectively showed us how food becomes art.
MARTIN BERASATEGUI Martin Berasategui, Guipuzcoa, Spain
It's All in the technique:
Harnessing the Potential of an Ingredient
Chef Berasategui shares techniques from his three-star restaurant in Spain.
nori-wrapped smoked salmon • goat's milk with Basque sheep's cheese
almond hazelnut coffee curry crumbs
SUZANNE GOIN Lucques, AOC, and Tavern, Los Angeles
Behind the scenes at Lucques, AOC, and Tavern
A powerhouse of a chef, Suzanne Goin prepares a seasonal dish and discusses the challenges of running three successful restaurants while raising a family.
seared pork confit • cavolo nero
chorizo and cornbread stuffing
MICHAEL VOLTAGGIO formerly of The Dining Room at The Langham, Pasadena, CA
BRYAN VOLTAGGIO Volt Restaurant, Frederick, MD
Sibling Rivalry: Two Styles, One Ingredient
The Voltaggio brothers demonstrate their unique approaches to the same ingredient: Australian Wagyu beef. In typical playful fashion, Michael chose to prepare the tongue, and Bryan the cheek.
Michael's Wagu tongue Rueben
brined sous vide tongue • sauerkraut noodles
thousand island dressing • porcini wafer • pickling spice espuma
nitro gruyere snow • smoked sugar cotton candy
This year, Starchefs debuted its 1st Annual International Pastry Competition, organized by Antoinette Bruno and Johnny Iuzzini. The level of talent was astonishing and inspiring to watch. It began with twenty competitors on day one, cut to ten on day two, and down to three on day three. Ron Paprocki from Gordan Ramsey at the London took first prize.
Here are some images of the work from the final three competitors who were required to use chocolate to produce small petit four showpieces and a plated entrement.