Introduction to the 7th Annual StarChefs.com International Chefs Congress by Will Blunt
Good morning everyone and welcome to the 7th Annual StarChefs.com International Chefs Congress. My name is Will Blunt and I’m the Managing Editor of StarChefs.com. Before I begin, I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone. We have the privilege of sharing this event with you because so many people are willing to work so hard—thanks to the StarChefs.com staff, our amazing volunteers and staff. And a special thanks to the 140 presenters who came from all over the world—from Asia, Europe, and South America—to be here.
Last but not least, thanks to all of you. Your belief in this industry, in the importance of ideas and exchange, is what makes this happen every single year. You give us front-row access to your creative process, sharing everything from techniques and concepts to setbacks and triumphs. Working with you, we’re able to taste the products and ideas that emerge every year in the continuum of cuisine.
And that continuum is exactly what defines our ICC theme, Origins and Frontiers: The Archaeology of Modern Cuisine. It’s a very interesting time to be cooking. More and more, we’re going to the traditions, the roots, of our culinary past—finding inspiration in historic method and flavors. From time-warp menus and historic cooking techniques to carrying the torch of regional tradition into the next generation, we’re connecting food and drink to their origins, both in time, and in the very soil itself. But we’re not just archaeologists or historians—we’re innovators. And we’re using those discoveries as a springboard into the frontiers of cuisine. As Winston Churchill said, “the farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”
Perhaps it’s no mistake this is happening now. The modern food industry is powerfully self-aware, a force in society. And in an age of rapid-fire technology, instant information, and eroding cultural boundaries, we have chosen to consider the old ways, to examine the roots of our industry and their influence on our shared future. As we continue to seek our Origins and Frontiers over the next three days, and even over the next several years, perhaps we can all quietly indulge the larger question at hand—what is the value of any human experience that isn’t rooted to something?
Of course, even as we examine history, we continue to make it. By choice of responsible products and working practices, by emphasizing environmental and personal welfare, chefs and industry professionals have an unprecedented power to use their position for good in society—to change the course of history, far beyond the four walls of their kitchens. In our own small way, we try to do that here at ICC, this year through discussions of farm labor practices and the impact of restaurants on urban environments, and efforts to fight fracking with Chefs for Marcellus. Through our charitable partnership, a portion of the proceeds from the 2012 ICC will benefit Careers through Culinary Arts, an organization established by ICC Presenter Richard Grausman to facilitate the culinary aspirations of America’s youth through education, training, scholarships, and more. C-CAP is a national force in bettering lives and building a skilled, passionate culinary workforce, and we’re so happy to have them here with us.
In a moment we’ll introduce Matt and Ted Lee to kick off our event. But first I’d like to introduce my partner at StarChefs.com, our CEO and Editor-in-Chief, and the woman with whom I’ve been proud to build this incredible event, Antoinette Bruno. Antoinette will tell the story of how we reached our ICC theme over a year of eating, drinking, and interviewing with our 2012 StarChefs.com Trends Report. Welcome Antoinette!