This year’s StarChefs took place at the SuperPier (last year). The venue has a lot of character like large steel shipping containers suspended in mid-air and exposed brick walls. This year’s theme “Guts & Gory” seems to fit this venue – rustic, unfinished space to have a sophisticated industry four-day event – that’s if you include their public kickoff event, Smoke@ICC. (This was my third year attending this amazing event. You may read through my experiences for 2012 and 2011.)
Smoke@ICC was their first annual barbecue competition event. It is a one-of-a-kind competition of ten small but renowned pit masters will face off against professional chefs like 4505 Meats (San Francisco, CA), The Carillon Restaurant (Austin, TX).
Mother Nature was on StarChefs’ side since we were blessed with such a gorgeous day to have a barbecue.
Besides eating all of the delicious smoked briskets that each restaurant served, there was a very interesting dessert by Pastry Chef Carlos Enriquez of Patina Restaurant who served up spicy kettle corn chicharrones in liquid nitrogen and maple bacon bomboloni. Lines were building up after the second hour in since attendees spread the word around.
To view more photos of Smoke@ICC, please CLICK HERE.
The 8th Annual StarChefs ICC was still an informative, food-filled, forum and savory and sweet workshops.
The mornings always start with the pastry competition seeing beautifully plated desserts with the competing chefs under time pressure and under scrutiny of the all-star judging panel made up of Chefs Johnny Iuzzini, David Burke, Elizabeth Faulkner, Francisco Migoya, and Jeffrey Steingarten.
The first workshop I attended was Chef Michael Toscano of Perla‘s roasted veal head. Toscano took a large raw veal head by steaming it, roast it, brine it, sear it, and schmear it and utilized all of its parts (brains, cheeks, and tongue) into create a soulful, delicious dish.
He Cvap-ed (Controlled Vapor Technology oven) for 11 hours. Once it had cooked in its own robust juices, Toscano got to work, using all the different parts of the head and bringing them together on one delicious platter. The tongue had been brined for a week. The Cvap-ed, caramelized cheeks were seared in canola oil. The jaw was cracked open, picked clean and combined that meat with all the flesh of the head to make a patty which he seared in olive oil. The brains were pureed with mascarpone, champagne vinegar, lots of olive oil, and salt, and finally, Toscano served it all up with a sweet, thick carrot and tomato-based vegetable stew called ribollita.
At legendary pastry chef Sherry Yard’s “Rise Up Flat Breads” workshop in the afternoon, it was fun, high energy that suits the chef’s personality (and her cute pastel pink chef’s jacket).
Chef Yard introduced a few unusual flours I have never heard of like lupin flour (a high protein, gluten-free flour derived from the white lupin bean) and special spice blends that she likes to use on her pastries and breads. We created three different flatbreads using lupin flour called the “everything” flatbread (think matzoh but so much more delicious than the typical tasteless cardboard) and yogurt potato flatbread.
Chef Phillip Speer of Uchi (Houston, TX) had a pop-up pastry tasting for a select group of guests. Uchi is a Japanese-inspired fine dining restaurant. Chef Speer utilized the restaurant’s philosophy and started luxurious with the aerated foie gras dessert that’s treated like phở. Progressed on to the peanut butter and curry dessert, amazingly refreshing “Black & White Thailand” with sweet-savory flavors of tomato, coriander, coconut and finished off with the bonbons filled with white chocolate kale ganache with blueberry center bonbon with candied quinoa.
To view more photos of this event, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set):