StarChefs.com International Culinary Congress: Day 1

This year, I’ve been invited to attend the three-day long Star Chefs International Culinary Congress, I’ll abbreviate it as ICC. This event was fun, obviously, there’s food ’til there’s no tomorrow and you get to meet and see respected chefs (nationally or internationally known) in action with their workshops.

Starting with Day 1, the 1st Annual Pastry Competition kicked off first thing in the morning.

Pastry Chef Toni Roberts' pre-dessert Pastry Chef Herzog's pre-dessertPre-dessert by Chef Joseluis Flores of De Rodriguez, Miami, FL Pastry Chef Carlos Enriquez's pre-dessert
Pre-desserts churned out

Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis of Le Bernardin, New York, NY Pastry Chef Alex Stupak of WD-50
Full panel of judges (for tasting)
Some of the judges for the pastry competition

Gorgeous pre-desserts, as this is the first round of this competition, were churned out. A number of well known pastry chefs like Michael Laiskonis (Le Bernardin, NYC), Johnny Iuzzini (Jean Georges, NYC), and Alex Stupak (WD-50, NYC) were judging as well as one of the best food writers in the country, Jeffrey Steingarten was part of the taste judging panel.

Fluke marinated in lime juice, fresh wasabi and yuzu
Kaiseki dish presented

A savory demo, Poetry on the Plate: Modern Kaiseki with Japanese chefs Masato Nishihara (Kajitsu, NYC), Makoto Okuwa (Manhattan Beach, CA), Noriyuki Sugie (IRONNORI, San Francisco CA), and Isao Yamada (Upstairs at Boule, NYC) spoke of the history of kaiseki and demonstrated dishes like the one above. Chef Okuwa demoed fresh fluke, done sashimi style (his way) and marinated in lime juice, topped the dish with fresh wasabi, diced cucumbers, and yuzu.

The room
Different workshop room in Park Avenue Armory

A mixology demo, Island Revolution was held later in the afternoon hosted by the men behind the tiki bar Painkiller, Richard Boccato and Giuseppe Gonzalez, and the pastry chef who’s been very interested in the cocktail/mixology culture for the past few years, Johnny Iuzzini (who admittedly said he wants to open a bar someday soon).

This workshop really emphasized how everything is important in a well-made drink. The temperature, the clarity of the drink’s elements (Iuzzini clarified lime juice with gelatin and explained that you can clarify with other hydrocolloid stabilizing agents depending upon the need or use of heat.), and how different blenders can make a difference in the drink (the monster Vitamix blender used in this demo made a blended cocktail last past 5 minutes out of the blender instead of melting within a minute or two), carbonated, and froze a drink with liquid nitrogen. Interesting and innovative techniques yet they still think every little detail as to what makes a good drink good.

Giuseppe Gonzalez of Painkiller and Johnny Iuzzini Richard Boccato of Painkiller, NYC whizzing up a really loud blender Freezing a large batch of drinks with liquid nitrogen
The men hosting the Island Revolution workshop

This is the highlights of what I’ve seen that day even though there was a lot more happening in different rooms within the historically grand Park Avenue Armory. To see more photos of the day, please see/click through the slideshow below.

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