StarChefs in the News
September 26, 2006
Star Chefs: Report from
the International Chefs Congress - Day 1
Gothamist's Star Chefs report is brought to us by Regina Varolli, a Manhattan-based
freelance writer. Though most of her private clients are in DC, she lives
here because the food is better, in general.
After 11 years on the web, StarChefs.com
held its inaugural “International Chefs Congress” last week.
Gathering chefs from around the globe, the event boasted an impressive
line-up including pastry god Pierre Hermé, elBulli’s Albert
Adrià, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, NYC chemist-chefs Wylie Dufresne
and Sam Mason, local icon Anthony Bourdain, and culinary giants Daniel
Boulud and Eric Ripert (though Boulud is significantly smaller than a
real giant, Ripert comes close).
The two day food fest, filled with
delicious demonstrations during the day and topped with cool cocktail
receptions and after-parties steeped in alcohol, was the first of its
kind in the U.S., and of course it was in New York. Prior to last week,
anyone wanting to attend such an event would have had to fly to Europe.
Which, as it happens, may cost less than the all-inclusive Congress Pass,
a steep $850.00. But, for the hundreds of chefs who came from as close
as Lower East Side and as far as Bali, Indonesia, the presentations, parties,
and hand-pressing opportunities were well worth the price.
Headlining day one was elBulli uber-Chef Albert Adrià. One of the
two biggest names at the event, Albert—with the help of José
Andrés’ translation into English—narrated a demo film
in which he created “The Hummingbird.” Though initially disappointed
at not getting to see the master dirty his hands on stage, one quickly
realized that creating an edible hummingbird in an edible nest required
more than the half-hour allotted and the basic kitchen equipment provided.
Though thoroughly amazed by the technique and creativity of Albert, the
audience was equally amused by the witty back-and-forth between the presenter
and his long-time colleague. The two men morphed into stand-up comics,
and whenever Albert ventured into the English language, José would
then translate into Spanish. No actual cooking, but satisfaction in spades.
Though all of the demos made one hungry, on day one, the only demonstrator
to touch our tummies was Chef Frédéric Bau of L’Ecole
du Grand Chocolat Valrhona, (translation: Valrhona Chocolate’s Cooking
School in Hermitage, France) pictured above. Using Valrhona, of course,
Frédéric concocted a crab and savory chocolate parfait right
before our eyes. Then, from the back of the auditorium, like angels in
chef’s whites, ICE students ushered platters of the parfait to every
salivating mouth in the auditorium. Though not one of the big names, or
perhaps because of that fact, Frédéric ensured himself a
lasting impression by actually feeding us.
Wrapping up the day with his second appearance was Chef José Andrés,
pictured below. Formerly of elBulli, José now presides over a DC
restaurant empire. His Mini Bar, located on the top of his flagship Café
Atlantico, is the closest thing you’ll get to dining elBulli style
in the U.S., and well worth the quick journey to DC just to eat there.
Perhaps the most action-packed and entertaining demo of the day, José
blew foams into the audience, crumbled dehydrated croutons on stage, and
balanced a tiny glob of caramelized olive oil on his finger as his assistants
prepared deconstructed Caesar Salad, Corn on the Cob, and New England
Clam Chowder. Most amusing was his frustration with the cameraman who
never seemed to get the perfect close-up José wanted. But how could
he? The camera sat on a tripod twelve rows back.
On the second day, the cameraman took to the stage... as did Pierre Hermé,
Masaharu Morimoto, Wylie Dufresne, and Sam Mason. Followed by the “Push-Cart
Gala” at Crobar, and an after-party at Bed, day two did not disappoint.
But, you’ll have to wait to hear about it until tomorrow...