The third and final day for StarChefs.com’s International Culinary Congress has arrived and after speaking to several chefs and attendees who were there that morning, they were exhausted not just because it is 10 AM, it’s because of the parties they went to the night before that went into the wee hours of the morning.
Since I wanted to save my energy from going workshop to workshop, I attended one that is co-hosted by Aldea‘s Chef/Owner George Mendes and the president/CEO of a Spanish olive oil company. The idea is to taste the different olive oils and Mendes would utilize those oils into his dishes as they have different flavor profiles. The lightest of the three introduced to use was used in his Ruby Red Shrimp with Smoked Country Sausage, Dill Broth, Peach. Light, fruity olive oil that plays along with the delicate sweetness of the gorgeous Maine shrimp, peaches and herb purée. Building up toward something more robust flavored, he went on to making Portugese Sardines with Almond Milk, Lemon Purée, which was essentially raw sardines that is enhanced by the thick olive oil and viscous almond milk with highlights of lemon purée. (I never had sardines prepared like that before and it is really amazing. Supple, fatty fish fillet mingled with a hint of fruity oil and almonds. Minimalism at its best.) The most complex in flavor and composed dish was the baby goat terrine with slow-roasted carrots, golden nugget potatoes, herb puree, honey vinegar. I believe Mendes joked with us that his cooks complains it takes too long to plate. The baby goat is sous vided and placed into the oven for a quick heat up. The colorful, sweet carrots and little potatoes were roasted. Together, this dish tastes complex yet not heavy. The barely gamy goat meat was sweetened up by the root vegetables, olive oil and the herb purée added lots of flavor and brightness. All very delicious food. Makes me want to go back to Aldea again.
For the rest of the photos for the remainder of Day 3 at ICC, please click through my slideshow below.
The party was filled with women gussied up in cocktail dresses and a number of men in their suits. It’s very lively and and a band was performing while everyone ate, drank, and chatted throughout the evening. Now onto the food.
Chef Marc Forgione of Marc Forgione was probably the most popular chef on the first floor, as his table tend to be mobbed of hungry party goers. His dish of roasted whole scallop, cauliflower puree, crushed hazelnuts, and sauce “Proposal” was a large, single tender scallop was seared perfectly. The smooth, creamy cauliflower purée worked well with the sauce “proposal” that added a briny, sour flavor to contrast the sweetness of the scallop yet not dominating it.
Emma Hearst of Sorella served Pate di Fegato: Chicken liver mousse with Candied Bacon & Fried Egg. She basically combined my favorite things in food: creamy chicken liver mousse (that doesn’t taste so liver-y), sweet and salty bacon and a fried quail egg that still has an oozy yolk, all on a well toasted bread. I was swooning.
Chris Silversen of Maritime Parc offered braised New Zealand King Salmon, fennel Kraut, and mustard leek risotto. It was a good offering, though admittedly, I’m pretty tired of eating salmon. I did appreciate the use of fennel and leeks to flavor the salmon.
Gilt’s Chef Justin Bogle served Australian Wagyu strip loin, potato terrine, Matsutakes, black garlic, and bone marrow. I thought the dish was decent. I found the wagyu not as tender as I should expect it should be but then again, you’re serving to a large number of people in an event like this, the cooking isn’t going to be the same as he would be in his own kitchen. I did like the sweet-savory funkiness of the black garlic sauce to play with the minerally flavor of the wagyu.
Chef Bradon Kida of Asiate doled out Rabbit & Hudson valley foie gras terrine, candied rhubarb, shiso viniagrette. It’s a beautifully plated slice of fatty duck and rabbit liver. It’s delicately sweetened by blackberries and carrots. The tartness from the rhubarb and the berries cut the fattiness of the livers. It was pretty refreshing.
Chef Markus Glocker of Gordon Ramsay at The London served up a better version of foie gras (the name of his dish was Hudson Valley foie gras with Cipollini onion, black olive caramel, aged balsamic). I prefer seared foie gras because the caramelization enhances the flavor. Glocker and his crew added subtle sweetness by incorporating the cipollini onion and the balsamic vinegar. The black olive caramel straddled onto something more salty. It was delicious.
Chef James Tracey and his crew from Craft cranked out pork trotter and sunnyside up egg.
I love pig’s feet (hey, I’ve grown up with traditional Chinese food) and the Craft crew did a great job. The pig’s trotter is fatty and adding the sunnyside up egg made it a lot more unctuous. I would imagine this as a hearty brunch course if they made it a larger portion size and I would order this in a heartbeat. Well, a clogged up one after eating that luscious thing.
Chef Dan Kluger of ABC Kitchen served whole Wheat Bigoli, pork ragu, Parmesan, snap peas, bacon, mint. It’s a hearty, soulful, bold flavored pasta dish. The pasta has al dente, the ragu was screaming seasonal flavors on my palate (tomatoes, basil, and mint with pork being the background supporter) with hits of saltiness from the Parmesan and bacon. I missed having pasta dishes like this.
Aureole‘s pastry chef, Angela Yee created chilled watermelon soup with Galia melon sorbet, pickled cucumber,blueberries, and candied olives. It’s a very light and refreshing dessert. Not too sweet and I liked the subtle hits of salt from the candied olives and pickles.
Gordon Ramsay at the London’s Pastry Chef Ron Paprocki’s dessert of pineapple creameux with pineapple rock candy, vanilla sable, yogurt sponge, and yogurt sorbet was another fruit-based dessert served here. This was probably the more substantial, heavier dessert of the ones offered that evening (but it’s not ridiculously decadent). The pineapple’s natural acidity and sweetness made this dessert shine.
Eleven Madison Park‘s pastry chef Angela Pinkerton created a desconstructed chocolate dessert called Milk and Chocolate, Tastes & Textures. Interesting plating and obviously delicious. (I love Eleven Madison Park for a long time so I’m kind of biased and love their food.) Overlooking that part, the dessert was chocolate-y but it wasn’t cloying and most of its components were frozen in liquid nitrogen so the light texture will stay that way because of the immediate drop in temperature.
Midway or a little more through the party, the Chief Editrix, Antoinette Bruno and her Managing Editor, Will Blunt came up on stage and announced this year’s Rising Chefs. They all came up, one by one, and most had their mentors (some of them famous like Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio) making a short speech about their work. Hey, even Executive Chef of Eleven Madison Park, Daniel Humm, made his presence there.
It was a fun, and in some parts, stormy evening. After having my fill of food and libations, I called it a night and took the train back home.
For the rest of the photos of the gala, please flip through the slideshow below.