The 9th Annual StarChefs.com International Chefs Congress took place on October 26– 28 at the Brooklyn Expo Center in New York City. This one of a kind culinary symposium gathered more than 100 of the world’s most innovative chefs, pastry chefs, mixologists, and sommeliers who presented the latest techniques and culinary concepts. This year’s theme was Cooking Honest: The Power of Authenticity in the Kitchen. For three days, cooking industry guests had the opportunity to attend Main Stage Demonstrations, Hands-on Savory, Pastry, and Mixology workshops, Wine Tasting Seminars, and Business Panels.
I had the pleasure of attending the food carts, pop-ups with some of the country’s hottest chefs from L.A. to Atlanta as well as the The Chef Products Fair, a curated showcase of the most highly regarded purveyors in the industry with products ranging from plateware, ovens, and knives to beer, cheeses, and chocolate. Each day from 11am to 2pm, the Brooklyn Expo Center came alive with activity as patrons tried custom pasta blends, ate a traditional Japanese tea-house meal, got down with some of the country’s best barbecue, visited bakeshops from around the country, and tasted oysters. I had the chance to visit with an old friend, Robert Phalen of One Eared Stag in Atlanta, GA, who prepared a fabulous line-caught Catfish Sausage, Bitter Greens, Pickled Okra, Cured Tomato, and Stone-cut Grits. Another crowd favorite came from Jason Alley from Comfort in Richmond, VA who offered Crispy Ham-cured Pork Ribs, Pickled Vegetable Salad and Alabama White Sauce. A Top Chef fan, it was fun to see Kevin Sbraga from Fat Ham of Philadelphia, PA who prepared Chicken Liver Mousse, Roasted Corn, and Pickled Beets on Toast. Other cool items available for sampling included a Spanish Olive Bar, Valrhona Chocolate Bar, Asahi Beer, and Nespresso Coffee Bar. Overall, it was cool the way everything was set up as the tastings were intertwined with the products demos. Then when the chef demonstrations started, the lunch pop ups ended so full attention was placed on the chefs.
After the event, I also had the opportunity to speak to longtime friend and Carolinas Rising Star Fresh Concept Chef Aaron Siegel of Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ of Charleston, SC about the event. He stated, “The ICC 2014 was a fantastic event to attend as a member of the food and beverage industry. To have a chance to be under the same roof with so many talented and innovative individuals is a true pleasure and provides me with great inspiration.” He continued, “For most of us in this crazy business, inspiration is what drives us and keeps us excited about what we are doing. You try to reach out and grab it whenever you can. The ICC allowed me to do just that as I came away inspired and energized which is invaluable.”
The StarChefs.com International Chefs Congress was a very well planned showcase that I recommend to anyone in the food industry to attend. The event also supported the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program, Inc. (C-CAP), a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and provide career opportunities in the food service industry for inner-city youth through culinary arts education and apprenticeship. For more information about Star Chefs or the event, please visit www.starchefs.com.