Letter from the Editor: The Sixth Sense at the 6th Annual ICC Vol: 76
Will Blunt, Managing Editor
Like its five predecessors, the 6th Annual StarChefs.com International Chefs Congress will unite more than 3,000 chefs, pastry chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers, and mixologists in a three-day symposium of creativity and culinary consumption. And this year’s theme, “The Sixth Sense,” will challenge every corner of the community to reconsider their creative roles and goals in the industry.
The Sixth Sense is an old term with new connotations in the restaurant industry. At its most misunderstood, it’s thought of as the sole property of the ranks of avant-garde cuisine. But the Sixth Sense is more than a whisper of nostalgia or a wisp of smoke (and more than we tend to ascribe to "avant-garde" cuisine itself). It aspires to evoke an emotional response from the diner in any facet of hospitality.
The fact is, the restaurant industry is uniquely capable of harnessing perception and unleashing emotion, from the preparation and presentation of a dish to the design of the restaurant space and beyond. We are no longer simply feeding the diner; we are entertaining, challenging, teaching. And more and more, we are plumbing the depths of emotional currency and testing the bounds of our own creative powers in an attempt to express a greater bond—and explore a shared humanity—in the increasingly diverse experience of cuisine.
And because modern hospitality as a whole is evolving toward a deeper engagement with both product and patron, we have industry professionals from all across the board and globe to explore the dimensions of the Sixth Sense experience in cuisine. We have an incredible roster of presenters, including Grant Achatz, Pierre Hermé, Andoni Luis Aduriz, Massimo Bottura, David Burke, François Chartier, Sanghoon Degeimbre, Laurent Gras, Curtis Duffy, Paul Liebrandt, David Thompson, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. And as these expert guides dissect the topic on our Main Stage and in Hands-on Workshops and Business Seminars, you will have the opportunity to mingle with your peers, make new friends, and reconnect with old ones.
But the ICC wants to give you a taste of everything, from the conceptual to the competitive. And we’re happy to announce the return of the 2nd Annual StarChefs.com International Pastry Competition. We can only imagine how fierce (and floury) the pastry competition will get this year, especially after last year’s winner, Pastry Chef Ron Paprocki, was showered with gifts including a stage under Pierre Hermé (who will judge this year’s competition).
But whether they involve talking product with your culinary hero or the abstract limits of conceptual cuisine, the memories we come away with—those great moments of teaching and relationship-building across generations of industry professionals—can only happen at an event like the StarChefs.com International Chefs Congress. It’s an event for you, and informed by you, built on the creative generosity, diversity, and never-ending exchange of this industry. And together we hope to discover that not only are we intricately linked within hospitality, but that our collective efforts are intimately responsible for the sublimation—and continued progress—of the culinary experience. The Sixth Sense: not the future, but the essence, of the industry.