It’s that time of the year — berries, fiddlehead ferns, and garlic scapes at the greenmarket, schools closing for the summer, and StarChefs preparing for our International Chefs Congress coming up this September. How does it all fit together? This year’s Congress will feature a new roster of international chefs, as well as new subtext and a new charge illustrating chefs’ power to effect change. We’re working with chef and renegade lunch lady Ann Cooper to seriously address the school lunch crisis in America. We want to create a dialogue between restaurant chefs and school chefs, and ignite positive changes for our children.
It’s clear that even young, cutting–edge chefs are interested in food education. Interdisciplinary groups like the Experimental Cuisine Collective have long–term goals and want to invest in developing a 4–week curriculum for fifth–graders that builds an interest in science and food. StarChefs will sponsor the attendance of 10 school district executive chefs and lunch directors at our Congress. There, we’ll draw from a school lunch lottery so attendees can sample the current school lunch as well as the school lunch of the future. Together with restaurant chefs we’ll address the issues of food education and school lunches with a roundtable discussion after experiencing the real thing — which was a long time back for most of us.
Speaking of parenting, for Father’s Day we have composed a spirits and food pairing menu from spirits sommelier Ethan Kelley of The Brandy Library in TriBeCa. Kelley has tips for picking out a good bottle to give as a gift, as well as some very interesting (and boozy!) pairings — from Mezcal and lobster to 100 proof single malt Scotch and smoked salmon. If you have the chance to travel on Father’s Day, our San Francisco Rising Stars Revue is coming up in less than a week! Check out San Francisco’s exciting food scene all in one night, hang out with chefs, and play golf with Dad.
On Wednesday, we walked to the Beard House to listen to Gael Greene read from Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess in a discussion titled “Delicious Memories of James Beard: Sweet and Salty.” Downstairs, chef Hemant Mathur composed spicy Indian snacks for lunch — from fish croquettes and mini–samosas with green chutney to crisp poori cups filled with lentils. Dressed in a red wide–brimmed hat, Greene joked about men and food and marveled at how the American food scene has evolved in the past thirty years. There was a time, she mused, when simple ingredients like creme fraiche weren’t available in New York...but today there's a national obsession with food and saavy consumers have access to more and more international ingredients and techniques. As this consumer knowlege grows and our national food choices multiply, the responsibility of the chef to his diners rises as well.
Today's chefs have control over shaping national food trends — the industry has the power to encourage the seasonal, sustainable, and fresh principles of good restaurant food to reshape our children’s choices and diets. We hope you’ll join the discussion this September at our Congress.