2010 International Chefs Congress Wrap Up: Main Stage Day Three

2010 International Chefs Congress Wrap Up: Main Stage Day Three

Chef Suzanne Goin Chef Suzanne Goin
Accompanied by chefs Elizabeth Falkner and Julie Robles, Los Angeles star chef Suzanne Goin gave a soulful presentation on her inspiration, methods, and work-life balance. She demonstrated a comforting pork confit with chorizo, cavolo nero, and cayenne maple syrup. Using her favorite low tech tools, a mortar and pestle, cutting board, and a knife, Chef Goin showed how a seemingly simple dish can develop layers of flavor and complexity.

Chef Michael Meredith traveled over 8,000 miles from Auckland, New Zealand to share with the Main Stage audience his culinary philosophy and give a glimpse of where Kiwi cuisine is going. He explained that his approach to cuisine is playful, seasonal, texture-driven, and celebrates the region. He prepared a smoked New Zealand King salmon belly with Mandarin puree, Mandarin powder, and New Zealand sea grapes. Meredith smoked the salmon belly over coconut husks (MC Rick Moonen noted that fat absorbs smoke easily), vacuum sealed it on full vacuum, then cooked it sous vide at 55°C for just five minutes to maintain an almost raw-like state. His second dish featured New Zealand paua (blue abalone) prized for its tenderness and depth of flavor; it was plated with poached squid, seared young coconut in a black charred coconut husk sauce, freeze-dried pomegranate molasses, and caramelized yogurt with manuca honey. Known for his out-of-the-box flavor combinations, Meredith’s seared young coconut with the charred coconut husk sauce mimicked squid in ink, and his caramelized yogurt sauce might’ve been the first time anyone at the Congress paired yogurt with seafood. The chef emphasized the youth of New Zealand cuisine and dining culture, noting the wealth of ethnic influences, and growth of specialized New Zealand products becoming more widely available.

Chefs Michael and Bryan Voltaggio Chefs Michael and Bryan Voltaggio
Michael and Bryan Voltaggio showcased some of their cutting edge techniques in their Tongue and Cheek presentation on the Main Stage. Michael Voltaggio, formerly of The Dining Room (Pasadena, CA) demonstrated a dish that combined New York City flavors with waygu beef tongue in a reimagined pastrami sandwich dish, replete with sauerkraut noodles, smoked sugar cotton candy, mustard seed gastrique, puffed mushroom cracker, and thousand island espuma. Bryan Voltaggio of VOLT in Maryland on the other hand presented a waygu beef cheek; he rang in the fall with his pairing of roasted squash purée with fresh matsutake mushrooms and micro-vegetable mirepoix that he discovered right here at the ICC at the Fresh Origins booth. To elevate their dishes, they utilized some of the custom-blended powders that they developed together at a lab in Germany, proving that while they each have their own culinary styles, they both appreciate innovative thinking.

Chef Dale Degroff Chef Dale Degroff
Mix-master Dale Degroff and Chef Julian Medina really got the crowd buzzing in the next-to-last presentation of the 2010 ICC. DeGroff’s energy and his enthusiasm for the flavors of Peru, coupled with Medina’s exotic flavor combinations were a sight to see. DeGroff filled the audience in on the background for both pisco and mezcal, while at the same time plying Rick Moonen with the drinks he concocted as he spoke. He started off with an avocado and asparagus cocktail with pisco, and then let Medina choose the strong component for the cocktail pairing for the second course. Medina chose mezcal, and dove into preparation for a ceviche that blended yuzu and pomegranate juice, along with sliced carrots. The fish of choice was flounder, a local fish, which pleased Moonen, and the audience watched as the yuzu juice cooked the flesh. For those on trendwatch: Dale Degroff stated that pisco is in a position to become a huge international trend, while Julian Medina talked up yuzu juice and choco, the starchy South American corn low on sweetness.

Chef Albert Adria Chef Albert Adria
The 2010 StarChefs.com ICC went out with a bang this year as Albert Adrià gave the closing presentation. The buzz was running high as Adrià humbly, and with a touch of humor, introduced himself to the crowd and started off by showing a couple of videos, one dedicated to his “serious side,” as he put it: A Day at el Bulli, and the other dedicated to his fun side, a video presentation of Inopia, his casual tapas bar that closed in July. People appeared to be on the edge of their seats as Adrià began to address the crowd regarding his thoughts on cuisine, “cuisine is product, technique, and flavor. The third element is the only subjective element and it is the only place where the chef can add something completely his own, through flavor combination.” He addressed the murmurs of dissent regarding molecular gastronomy by stating that technology is neither good nor bad, but simply a means, like any other, of manipulating product. And he showed off a couple of techniques, for example, the crafting of a “mimic” strawberry. “This is the best way that we have been able to come up with to make a strawberry,” he said, “it has the color of a strawberry, and the odor of a strawberry. Would you make a pistachio crème that wasn’t green?” He insisted that nature must always be present in some way, and said that he always accompanies a mimicked piece of fruit with the real thing for authenticity.

By Kathleen Culliton, Amanda McDougall, Katherine Martinelli, Emily Bell, Jessica Dukes, and Ed Hardy