Savory & Pastry: Plankton, Rot, People, and Presentation: The Guts and the Goods at ICC

Savory & Pastry: Plankton, Rot, People, and Presentation: The Guts and the Goods at ICC

Sustaining Relationships: A Chesapeake Ecosystem of Purveyors

Spike Gjerde explains sustainability on the Chesapeake Bay

Even with “local” and “sustainable” as popular buzz words, chefs don´t always give the credit due to purveyors, farmers, and producers. From Woodberry  Kitchen in Baltimore, Spike Gjerde and his team (2010 DC Area Sustainability Rising Star Isaiah Billington, Chef de Cuisine George Marsh, and Bar Director Corey Polyoka) shared the spotlight with two of their producers, Denzel Mitchell from Baltimore´s Five Seeds Urban Farm and Will Morrow from Whitmore Farms. Morrow carried in a half pasture-raised Gloucestershire Old Spot pig from his, which the team then transformed into black ham, or jambon. Mitchell´s Fish Peppers, a varietal from Maryland in the 1800s that he revived, were made into hot sauce to top Chesapeake Bay oysters.  Gjerde's team demonstrated their full utilization philosophy, by straining a house-made quark and making Coeur de crème with the curds, and a Quince-Rum cocktail with the whey. “Maryland is a little overlooked as a culinary tradition,” Gjerde lamented. If what we saw was any indication, that´s something that will change soon.

Plate as Production: Building the Perfect Presentation

David Bazirgan sharing tips on creating the perfect plate

David Bazirgan's interactive workshop looked like an arts and crafts class for adults. Each table held the mise en place for Bazirgan's Fifth Floor dish, Tomato Five Ways—peeled Dry Farm tomatoes, Fresh Origins micro herbs, tomato leather, compressed watermelon cubes, pine nut tuiles, and feta espuma. The class watched Bazirgan turn the base ingredients into a dramatic, dynamic interpretation of a traditional feta, watermelon, and tomato salad. Bent over his Steelite double basin plate, precisely placing each piece with tweezers, Bazirgan explained, "We're looking to use the plate as a landscape and create a flow." As a bonus, Bazirgan presented a demo of his foie gras burrata with house-made vinegar, dried fig chips, and fried challah. Bazirgan was inspired by a Grant Achatz dish and by his love for burrata and foie.

365 Seasons of Nordic Cuisine

Pastry Chef Daniel Lindeberg torches charcoal to lightly smoke elk for tartare

Pastry Chef Daniel Lindeberg torches charcoal to lightly smoke elk for tartare

“There are two types of kitchens—cooking kitchens and plating kitchens.” This is how Pastry Chef Daniel Lindeberg of Stockholm´s Frantzén/Lindeberg began his session: his restaurant is the cooking kind. That is, they cook everything to order, and don´t rely on heavy mise en place. To demonstrate the balanced desserts he uses as part of the restaurans 25-person a night tasting menu, he prepared an oven-roasted chanterelle ice cream with pickled chanterelles, dried apricots, and toasted grapeseed oil. Although he admitted to loving chocolates, he dismissed chocolate and sugar decorations as unnecessary and not a natural fit into the restaurant´s fresh, Japanese-inspired Nordic cuisine.

Tapping into Your Staff’s Collective Creativity

Michael Laiskonis hands out a sample of his infamous Le Bernardin desserts

Inspiration, “that´s really the big undefined thing about cooking,” said Le Bernardin Pastry Michael Laiskonis. In this interactive demo, he took the term interactive literally, creating a dialogue with the participants.  He and attendees played the “ingredient game,” an exercise in refreshing creativity and training his cooks to think like future pastry chefs. It involved writing down three words and writing down a free association list of concepts or ingredients under each. One example of a dish that came out of this exercise was his deconstructed Paris-Brest, the French dessert of pastry cream and pate choux. He also explained how all of his and his team´s ideas are rooted in his notion of the role of pastry—physiological (a desire for sweets is encoded in us as it´s one of the first flavors we taste), psychological (sweets are often a reward as a child), commercial (the first few pennies a child is given are usually spent on candy), and also just the pure happiness of desserts. These elements of nostalgia are at the base Laiskonis´s pastry philosophy.

Harnessing Rot and Other Secrets of L'Air Du Temps

Sanghoon Deigembre shows off his use of fermentation in three tasty dishes

Showcasing his core philosophies of innovation, sustainability, modernism, and fermentation, Chef Sanghoon Degeimbre prepared three landscapes for his hands-on workshop. For the first—a garden—he poured “dirt” of dried olives and breadcrumbs onto plates and topped them with thinly sliced and rolled raw daikon radish and lightly fermented carrot. He scattered pieces of hazelnut “moss” (a sponge made with batter, an iSi whipper, and the microwave) on the plate along with 1-year-old kimchi (“the healthiest food in the world”) and shrimp that were steamed under a glass dome on top of a fermented wooden ring and moss. This method, which looked liked a scene from “Biodome,” gave the shrimp a luxurious, almost lobster-like texture.

The second dish, the Ton Rouge seascape, was Degeimbre’s statement on sustainability. Instead of overfished tuna, he cubed and plated roasted beets, which he topped with dried and fried anchovies, fermented red pepper paste, kimchi, sea beans, steamed cockles, and moss (a mix of crunchy, soft, briny, acidic, sweet, and earthy). He then poured in an “ocean” of cabbage juice, turned blue by increasing its pH with baking soda. Tableside, Degeimbre injects “the hand of man” into the pristine ecosystem with a squirt of vinegar that turns the blue water into a blood red tide(“man is cruel”). His last dish, inspired by the Icelandic volcanic eruption last year, was a lunar black and white plating with a swipe of squid ink, a kiss of licorice vinaigrette, grey volcanic salt, a squid ink rice cracker, and a cuddle fish-liquid risotto “egg.” For the egg, Degeimbre sautéed the cuttlefish and pureed it with water, konjac, and iota in a Thermomix while heating to 80°C. The resulting liquid set (after a quick freeze) like a perfectly poached egg white around the liquid risotto ball to create a menacing black egg—or eye. Degeimbre also introduced FoodPairing.com, a website that helps chefs match ingredients by aromatic compounds—a topic covered in yesterday’s wine seminar with François Chartier.

Sous Vide Your Way

Alex Talbot of Ideas in Food bastes Cervena venison hearts in aromatic butter

Alex Talbot of Ideas in Food bastes Cervena venison hearts in aromatic butter

Tables set for service, Aki Kamozawa and Alex Talbot prepared a five-course sous vide tasting menu with the Polyscience immersion circulator (and other high-tech gadgets), while explaining the techniques for each element and giving advice for modern cooking methods. (On overcooking meat with sous vide, Kamozawa said, “The greatest downfall of sous vide is dry meat.” And on the passé sautéing vs. deep-frying: “It makes a hell of a lot of sense to apply heat to all sides,” said Talbot.)

The Ideas in Food meal was built around three primary elements: Cervena venison, squid, and butternut squash. They composed the first dish with sous vide calamari rings, a thin sheet of sous vide butternut squash, and venison flank steak bonded with tranglutimase and cooked sous vide with bromelain to render rare venison jus—a technique also demonstrated by Chris Young on yesterday’s Main Stage. Kamozawa and Talbot took the jus one step further by barrel-aging the sauce in a sonic prep with whisky barrel chips and adding a salty umami shot of fish sauce. The second course was a venison shank, cooked sous vide to maintain its heft and chew, a few squid tentacles, and butternut squash buttercream. Kamozawa and Talbot prefer the texture of roasted (rather than braised and melting) shank and used the immersion circulator to achieve a roasted texture. For the pasta course, the chef couple made a venison heart ragoût seasoned with coconut milk rather than cow’s milk and cocoa-rye-semolina pasta (made with an Arcobaleno pasta extruder). A classic example of layering flavors, they added flavor at every possible stage to produce a more interesting, exciting dish. Next, attendees dug into venison hearts (cured for 14 days, air dried, and cooked sous vide) that were brushed with aromatic butter and coated with candied pecans left over from Philip Speer’s pastry demo. The last bite of venison had a sweetness and kick of heat from an unconventional coconut milk brine that was spiked with hot sauce.

Attendees not only consumed month’s worth of creative work that Kamozawa and Talbot put into researching venison, squid, and other ingredients, they walked away empowered to try sous vide their way with a new baseline of knowledge and creative inspiration.

Technique, Flavor, Season: The Pre-Dessert

Ron Paprocki shares his know-how on the pre-dessert

The audience was offered more than just a demo at Chef Ron Paprocki's workshop on pre-desserts (the sweet course that helped earn him champion title during last year's 1st Annual International Pastry Competition). As executive pastry chef of Gordon Ramsay at The London, Paprocki's philosophy of the pre-dessert maintains the idea that it "should bridge the gap between the last savory course and the grand finale of a sweet dessert." He showed off his organic, natural style (an approach he honed working as a landscape designer for 10 years prior to becoming a pastry chef) by plating three pre-desserts for the enthusiastic audience. To fully capture the refreshing flavors necessary for a successful pre-dessert, Paprocki highlighted the use of fruits and vegetables including cucumber, avocado, peaches, corn, Thai basil, and lemon verbena. Audience members then plated their own pre-desserts using the ingredients and Paprocki's sound advice. Not only did everyone get an opportunity to ask questions and taste desserts in an intimate setting, but everybody went home with a perfect folder of recipes and Paprocki's favorite ice cream tool—a slender, long iced-tea spoon perfect for quenelles.

Marco. Polo. Exploring Spanish Ingredients

Chef Ángel León finishes a dish in his interactive workshop

Participants of Spanish Chef Ángel León's workshop on Tuesday got a taste of the sea in its purest form. The sustainability-minded chef passed around a bowl of bright green goo to sample, a paste made from 100 percent plankton. Participants described the flavor of the protein as salty, briny, and fresh. León pointed out that when he sows and harvests the plankton (the smallest contributor to the ocean's food chain) the impact on the ocean food chain is minimal, and he demonstrated how the naturally protein-rich plankton works as a substitute for butter in risotto made with Spanish bomba rice and finished with Sherry vinegar. He then passed around charcuterie he makes using fish, a product he developed in response to children's aversion to fish, Muslim dietary restrictions (from his seaside restaurant, Aponiente, you can see Morocco´s coast), and pescatarians suffering from chorizo envy. León also used a blowtorch to light olive pits (a by-product of olive oil production) on fire to create Smoked Oil, which he drizzled over sardines and crackers and served to the audience.

By Laura Curtis, Jessica Dukes, Caroline Hatchett, Joanne Liu, and Francoise Villeneuve