2010 International Chefs Congress Wrap-Up: Savory + Pastry Workshops and Demonstrations Day Two

2010 International Chefs Congress Wrap-Up: Savory + Pastry Workshops and Demonstrations Day Two

Day two of the Congress had savory and pastry chefs demonstrating everything from old school methods to new frontiers of sensory experience in cuisine. In the savory hands-on workshop The Original Sous Vide: Poulet en Vessie, Café Boulud Chef Gavin Kaysen and his team demonstrated a classic technique that predates modern sous vide, en vessie. This technique of sealing protein inside of a pig’s bladder and slowly simmering it in stock while basting was pioneered by Le Pyramide Chef Fernand Point. Point passed it down to his protégé Chef Paul Bocuse, and Bocuse in turn passed it down to restaurateur Daniel Boulud. After reading an article in the New York Times covering sous vide in home kitchens, Kaysen felt inspired to present this technique at the ICC as it essentially achieves the same tender, delicious results, and has much more ancient pedigree—not to mention no license necessary. Using rehydrated, salted, and dried pigs’ bladders imported by Giles Verot, Kaysen cooked a truffle-garnished whole chicken in a cognac-port-based sauce enriched with cream and foie gras. He discussed the ancient roots of this technique and its appearance in various culinary traditions including China, Scotland and Alsace, France. Kaysen chatted with the audience about how molecular gastronomy has become mainstream to the point at which it appeared pervasively at the Bocuse d’Or, and how understanding and mastering the traditions of food is key before exploring modern innovation.

Chef Dan Hunter Chef Dan Hunter
Aussie Chef Dan Hunter (Royal Mail, Dunkeld, Australia) kicked off a morning workshop with a seminar on his specialized cooking techniques with sous vide and a blow torch. Hunter explained to workshop attendees that “the food I’m interested in is pure, true, and flavorful;” he likes to use ingredients in a more natural state (and avoids perfect cuts, preferring to use an apple corer for the eggplant to create a more natural aesthetic) and emphasizes precision in cooking and plating over precision in the perfect brunoise. To that end, Chef Hunter also uses a blow torch to finish cooked ingredients so that it just caramelizes the exterior of the item and leaves the interior as is. He prepared a miso-chocolate marinated Australian lamb rack, cooked it sous vide to a precise 56°C internal temperature, and then torched just the exterior for that finishing touch of smoke and Maillard reaction. Additionally, Chef Hunter shared one of his recent tricks for making deeply flavorful vegetables: cooking them in dashi instead of water. Another tip from the Mugaritz-trained chef: to get a perfect chlorophyll juice spinach, strain off the solids, then cook the juice to 70°C until it separates; drain off the brownish liquid and what’s left is pure chlorophyll.

In the interactive demonstration The Pig Whisperer: Working Magic with Pork, Toqué! Chef Normand Laprise was joined by his team including Sous Chef Cheryl Johnson and Chef de Cuisine Charles-Antoine Crete. Together they discussed the culinary philosophy at Toqué! that focuses on applying creativity to maximize each product with multiple culinary applications. Johnson and Crete demonstrated multiple uses for Canada pork off-cuts, including smoked pig jowl bacon in an inverted BLT plate and reinvented brûléed pig jowl bacon served with popcorn powder, scallions, vegetable glaze, maple syrup, and shaved bonito from True World Foods. Laprise discussed the respect for the product that they instill in their employees, and regaled attendees with his early morning hunt for free-range piglets in a friend’s forest, and the inspiration he draws from trips to the farmer's market.

Straight from Montreal—and just a month before the opening of his new restaurant Les 400 Coups—pastry whiz Patrice Demers demonstrated two pastry dishes that focused on apples for the a.m. workshop crowd. As a child Demers didn’t like sugar or any sweets (an affliction he’s since recovered from via his own pastry talents) and as a result his dessert philosophy today incorporates little sugar, lots of fresh fruit, and a balance of acid, bitter, and salty flavors. He demoed a quick-setting ricotta cheesecake thickened with a blend of iota and kappa carageenan and a tiny bit of xanthan gum (to retain the water), served with an apple sorbet made with sous vide Cortland apples (with skins for a pink color) and a Quebec specialty ice cider (made from winter apples, frozen on the trees, and pressed for an intensely flavorful juice), graham-caramel chips, and an ice cider fluid gel. He explained to attendees that he uses his Pacojet to whip the ricotta into a light and airy blend before mixing with the rest of the base mixture; and he prefers a fluid gel over a sauce because it stays in place on the plate from the kitchen to the customer. He also demonstrated one of his spring-inspired classics, Green, which is featured in the ICC book.

In his savory hands-on workshop Cooking with Essential Oils, Coi Chef Daniel Patterson took his audience on a trip through the history of human senses, specifically the sense of smell. “Unlike other senses, if you smell something it sends powerful signals straight to your nervous system,” explained Patterson. “These signals can trigger memories from your past.” The sense of smell can be transformative, especially in the context of dining, which the chef exhibited by having the audience taste regular orange juice followed by orange juice flavored with wild sweet orange essence. After discussing the history of oil extraction, with reference to the lavender fields of France, Patterson demonstrated how the right oils, judiciously applied, can enhance the experience of cuisine exponentially. He prepared a foamed potato puree with pine needle essence, as well as stewed tomatoes with one drop of black pepper oil and one drop of basil oil. And food isn’t the only place for essential oils. “Drinks are great with essential oils,” said Patterson, which he demonstrated with vodka, green lemon, ginger, and listea.

Chef Ken Oringer Chef Ken Oringer
At The Low-Down on Low-Temp Cooking, Chef Ken Oringer of Clio celebrated one of the staples of modern (and classic) cuisine: sous vide. While Gavin Kaysen demonstrated the pig-bladder-grandfather of sous vide, poulet en vessie, Oringer’s sous vide was squarely modern. “Experimenting with things is important, and as a chef you always have to be curious.” To that end, Chef Oringer demonstrated two different sous vide techniques and their impact on the flavor and texture of various ingredients. For the first, he prepared Australian Lamb Belly Sous Vide with Crunchy Thai Vinaigrette and Lemon Balm Curry. The second was Geoduck Ceviche with Aji Amarillo, Compressed Melon and Coriander Berries. Despite sous vide’s roots in classic cuisine, Oringer draws inspiration from a variety of sources and ethnic cuisines. The key is being open to trial and error. “Certain dishes get built trying to work with one flavor,” said the chef, “then finding out things that will work with it.” Not only is sous vide an excellent forum for experimentation, it’s a time-saver. “You can braise once a week and have it last for two weeks.”

Pastry Chef Mindy Segal Pastry Chef Mindy Segal
Pastry chef and owner of HotChocolate in Chicago, Mindy Segal was battling with a back injury, but was in top form today for her pastry workshop, The Art of Artisan Pastry. Riffing off a recent request for a red velvet cake for a wedding, Segal began by confessing, “red velvet cake really sucks.” So she started bouncing ideas around, and let us in on the resulting brainstorm. She came up with the idea of incorporating her passion for seasonality and her thirst for craft beer (“The craft beer community in Chicago is like the chef community; it’s small,” says Segal) into a new take on red velvet. With the result—Red Velvet Cake Revisited—Segal mixes raspberry in two forms, La Choulette Framboise brown ale and a fresh flat of raspberries she picked up at the farmer’s market. “At my restaurant we do everything natural. The flavor and the color of the cake comes just from the raspberry and ale puree.” Orange juice and vanilla bean mellow the raspberry flavor, while tapioca pearls top the cake. The traditional cream cheese frosting was transformed into ice cream, stuffed into the center of the cake, while Swiss butter cream with raspberry substituted traditional frosting. The red velvet revolution has begun.

by Emily Bell, Kathleen Culliton, Jessica Dukes, Ed Hardy, Katherine Martinelli, Amanda McDougall, and Francoise Villeneuve