International Chefs Congress Welcome Address: 2010 Trends Report Given by Antoinette Bruno
StarChefs.com CEO & Editor-in-Chief
Good morning, and welcome to the 5th annual StarChefs.com International Chefs Congress: A Kitchen Without Boundaries
I’ve been thinking about what to talk about today, and what kept jumping out at me were numbers. Since our last Congress, StarChefs.com has traveled to over 40 towns and cities across the globe. We’ve done over 600 hundred tastings this year, awarding more than 70 Rising Stars across the country. This Wednesday, we’ll have our 30th Rising Stars Revue. It’s our 5th Congress, our 3rd in the historic Park Avenue Armory. We have over 90 presenters, with numerous of presentations over the next 3 days. And to top it all off, it’s our 15th year of being in business.
It’s not easy to add up numbers like these, but we know it means something big, something we wouldn’t have imagined two years ago, when our Congress began on the same day Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy—essentially inaugurating the recession and setting the tone for the next years of hardship in the industry. But just like a bottom line, numbers like these don’t lie. We’ve endured because you’ve endured, and we’re all looking towards the future. We’re all still building.
For our part, this year we’ve taken food photography to a new level—and you can view our work at the photo exhibit at the Chef’s Marketplace. We’ve also added a video channel, and we’ve incorporated two brand new events into the Congress. Competition has always been a part of the ACF and the European chef world. And with American involvement in everything from The Bocuse D’Or to Top Chef and Iron Chef, we were inspired to start our own competition. What better venue to feature the specific skills of fine dining than the Chefs Congress, when you’re surrounded by your peers, who’ll hate you for winning and love you for losing?
Starting this morning, we inaugurated the First Annual International Pastry Competition presented by PreGel, bringing 20 pastry chefs together to vie for top billing in a three-day test of their pastry and dessert skills. Don’t miss rounds 2 and 3 on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. And this afternoon we’ll have our first annual Somm Slam, hosted by Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth and presented by Constellation, Wines of Spain, and Steelite, pitting sommeliers like William Sherer, Jesse Rodriguez, and Andrew Meyers against each other in a real-time pairing competition.
AN EVOLVING INDUSTRY
But we’re not the only ones changing. We’ve seen a lot of evolution within this industry in our 15 years on the web, changes that are collectively catalogued in myriad food publications, advancing culinary school curricula, and the potent memories of individual experience. In the last 10 years alone we’ve seen developments that seriously impacted the industry. Science has become a staple of the kitchen, owing in huge part to Spain’s influence—to a point where today we’ve got products like Sosa’s Alphabet of Flavors in our kitchens—and all available right here in Koerner’s booth! Small plates in every regional and ethnic cuisine have changed the format of dining as we know it.
Pairings have evolved from traditional to out of the box, incorporating sherries, sakes, cocktails, and craft beers—we’ve even had beer and pastry! Tomorrow, Beer Sommelier Greg Engert will demonstrate even more craft beer pairings in his workshop. And the locavore philosophy has pervaded restaurant culture, bringing the sources of cuisine ever closer to the restaurant, quite literally on top of it in some cases.
We expect to see many more changes in the future. And our 2010 Culinary Trends Report gives us some perspective on what might change, what has to change, and what will invariably stay the same in this industry we all so stubbornly love.
TREND BY TREND: THE 2010 TRENDS REPORT
SOCIAL MEDIA AND NEW MEDIA
Of course, the Internet changed the industry we love—for better or worse. 80% of you use social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook to communicate with diners, your fellow chefs, and to publicize your restaurants. And there’s probably a correlation between this figure and the fact that a healthy 44% of you are now doing your own PR entirely. But more than just create a rapid forum for critical feedback, new media has helped democratize and expand the horizons of the industry beyond major cities. It’s the globalization of culinary information—an age of unprecedented interconnectivity. Who knows—innovations like the iPAD might soon serve as the restaurant menu of choice.
As much as it can make us, new media can also break us. Our ICC Panel on New Media will measure its impact on cuisine, from barbaric Yelps and ugly tweets to deliciously cheap marketing tactics.
Just like our cyber horizons, our geographic horizons are getting even wider – most of you said you would choose Japan for culinary travel, and this matches up with what we’ve heard all year. I hope those of you who haven’t yet made it to Kyoto were able to attend our ICC panel on Kaiseki, where four transplanted chefs discussed the art and craft of Japanese seasonal cuisine. If not be sure to visit our first time sponsors True World and Medallion Foods in the Chef’s Marketplace. Spain, meanwhile, is still at the top of everyone’s travel list. Albert Adrià and Martin Berasategui are stars of Spain’s culinary revolution, and they’re bringing it here to the ICC. The quote at Albert Adria’s Inopia is apt: “Any resemblance with reality is purely coincidental.”
Meanwhile, New frontiers continue to open up: there is a new Avant Garde in Australia: chefs like Shannon Bennett, Dan Hunter, and Ben Shewry are exploring uncharted territory, equipped with products like Australian wagyu and all the latest toys—and it’s adding up to the kind of excitement we saw in Chicago five years ago. And Middle Eastern cuisine, once simply relegated to the echelons of “ethnic” cuisine, has made its way into fine dining—and to our Congress Main Stage, as Mourad Lahlou will demonstrate this Tuesday.
COMFORT FOOD + DIY
One good thing about the recession—it calls out one of this industry’s most enduring features: ingenuity. Chefs love a challenge. They love money, too, but I think they love a challenge a little more. Comfort food and do-it-yourself are the result. Ubiquitous old fashion red velvet cake is coming back into vogue, and Mindy Segal will demonstrate its culinary chic in her delicious Hands-On Workshop. Beyond comfort food, three-quarters of you said you’re making house-made ingredients, nearly doubled from last year. We’ve seen wood-fired pizza and house-made pasta all over the map, with carb-heavy concentrations in Portland and San Francisco, another step to take control of every element on the plate. Type A chefs rejoice—and their cooks quiver in fear!
And D-I-Y’s not just in the kitchen, it’s behind the bar—mixologists are secretively tending to house-made bitters the way wizards fuss over magic potions. With very similar results, I might add. Demonstrating “do-it-yourself” for our Congress audience are Chef Dante de Magistris, breaking down the elements of extruded pasta in his Wednesday workshop, and Mixologist Jackson Cannon demonstrating how to stock a “house-made” bar with everything from tinctures to rosé vermouth.
Do it yourself goes hand in hand with sustainability. When we first began the Congress, sustainability was a buzz word; now it’s becoming the standard of a responsible industry. 85% of you said you’re taking steps to becoming a greener establishment. And when ordering from local purveyors isn’t enough, we’ve seen a growing population of chefs like ICC presenter Daniel Patterson head for the hills—and forests—in search of ingredients.
Meanwhile, Tory Miller in Wisconsin is sustainably side-stepping strict seasonality with a put-by system that uses the Irinox Blast Chiller, to preserve the season’s produce year-round—and he’ll demonstrate in his workshop Wednesday. 60% of you are consulting sustainable seafood resources like Monterey Bay Aquarium when you’re choosing ingredients. Of course, the beauty of the Congress is we’ve got sustainable seafood guru Rick Moonen right here, leading a workshop on sustainable sous vide. And sustainability isn’t just about green technologies and local ingredients. It’s about using product efficiently—which means the offal and off-cut loving among you—which is most of you—should check out Canada Pork and keep whole-animal cuisine going strong.
We’ve also seen a provocative debate developing on sustainability in wine—with questions on carbon footprint, farming practices, and the integrity of terroir. NY Rising Stars sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier, a champion of organic and biodynamic wine, will lead a workshop to explore this next frontier in the wine world.
Of course, technology is always bringing us to new frontiers. And we observe, and even sometimes resist, its impact in our kitchens over time. Chef Gavin Kaysen will demonstrate the original pig-bladder-grandfather of sous vide, poulet en vessie, at his Tuesday workshop. But sous vide as we know it has been in practice for 36 years and Ken Oringer’s workshop will explore the versatility of modern sous vide. And just as the haute couture of high fashion makes its way to Target, kitchen technology like sous vide is making its way to the mainstream. Williams-Sonoma is now selling Poly Sci sous vide machines to consumers.
And it’s not just sous vide that’s going mainstream—the Adrias’ line of Texturas is available to homecooks, so anyone’s neighbor might be making mango caviar. Of course whether you should actually try it depends entirely on your neighbor. Meanwhile Cooktek’s Induction Burners can completely mobilize your kitchen, so you can change your line as often as you change your menu!
Technology has also jumped behind the bar, as you’ll see today as Dave Arnold and Nils Noren combine mixology classics with high-tech toys. And don’t miss it as bad-boy-trio Johnny Iuzzini, Richard Boccato, and Giuseppe Gonzalez combine two trends behind the bar—tiki and high-tech—with far out, deliciously boozy results.
We expect the future will be as much a mixture of high and low tech, as chefs and industry pros move into greater efficiency and closer connection to their product. And we hope this year’s Congress will help catalyze this progress. As a first spur to change, I’d like to ask every chef here to join the First Lady’s Chefs Move to Schools program, dedicated to the fight against childhood obesity. I challenge every chef here to adopt a school of their own! Assistant White House Chef Sam Kass, senior policy advisor for the Healthy Foods Initiative, will be here today to explain the program and help you get started.
Before we begin I’d like to thank the people who made this event possible: The Congress Advisory Board: José Andrés, Daniel Boulud, Josh DeChellis, Traci Des Jardins, Wylie Dufresne, Todd Gray, Johnny Iuzzini, Paul Liebrandt, Rick Moonen, Ken Oringer, Lex Poulos, Marcus Samuelsson, Audrey Saunders, and Norman Van Aken for their invaluable input, both this year and in the past. And thank you sincerely to all the presenting chefs. We are so honored to have you here, participating in this venue for discourse, education, and growth.
And many thanks to our sponsors for making this event possible – none of this could happen without you. The patronage of these innovative companies enables us to bring together culinary leaders from around the world, uniting them with each other and with the people that make the equipment they cook on and the products and ingredients they cook with. A special thank you to our founding sponsors – Jade, Hobart, Vita-Mix, Winston, and Wisconsin Cheese – whose support over the years has helped make our visions a reality. I’d also like to thank TriMark USA for making these dream demonstration kitchens and FCI—especially Annette, Angela, and their fabulous volunteers—for making the workshops run smoothly.
Over the next few days, I encourage you all to spend some time walking around the Chefs’ Marketplace. The variety of products, equipment, and technology is stunning. The Chefs Marketplace has been the birthplace of startups like Philippine Sea Salts 5 years ago and promises to do the same for Trannon’s chef kits today. Baxter is showing off their new hybrid convection oven while Vitamix is unveiling The Quiet One—their quietest, smoothest blender yet. Meanwhile, with products like the PastoChef and the Bravo, the pastry kitchen finally has the kind of high-tech toys the savory kitchen has been enjoying for so long. But we don’t just have the products—we have the producers here, too: Wisconsin Cheese has their artisanal cheese-makers on hand, and we encourage you to sample the pristine products of New Zealand, from venison to King Salmon and abalone from the people who know it best.
And a warm welcome to Belcolade, one of Belgium’s finest chocolate purveyors, making their first appearance at the Congress. And be sure to visit the Stella Artois Beer Garden when you need a “pick me up” or a “cool me down” throughout the Congress.
Now to kick off this year’s theme Art vs. Craft, here is our opening MC Michael Ruhlman. Michael is a prolific writer and cook with a keen sense of the contours of the craft—and a keen sense of humor to match. His 1997 book The Making of a Chef put him on the culinary map, and he followed that with a series of award-winning books, including several where he partnered with acclaimed chefs and past ICC presenters Eric Ripert, Grant Achatz, Brian Polcyn, Michael Symon, and several books with one of today’s keynote speakers, Chef Thomas Keller. This is Michael's second time as a participant at our Congress, but his first time as our MC. And we’re so thrilled to have him. Welcome back, Michael!