Sorrel cake and cinnamon/seaweed ice cream were among the sensory surprises awaiting attendees at the 13TH annual Starchefs International Chefs Congress held in the Brooklyn Expo Center in late October.
During three days of nonstop noshing, exciting competitions, hands-on workshops, and panels pinpointing problems in the industry, hospitality professionals from around the globe gathered to tackle this year’s thought-provoking theme: Cooking With Respect: Better People, Better Food.
From the pastry perspective, the prime event was the Valrhona C 3 International Final when eight world-renowned chefs each prepared a pre-dessert and a plated dessert for a panel of distinguished judges. The candidates were required to use Valrhona’s NYANGBO 68 % single origin chocolate from Ghana, and “to think out of the mold.” First place winner Yusuke Aoki of the Four Seasons Hotel Resort in Bali’s exquisite plated dessert did just that: the chocolate was complemented by cinnamon kombo (seaweed) ice cream paired with red wine and seasonal figs, and a touch of Japanese pepper to add a tingling and numbing sensation after the chocolate.
Combining savory and sweet ingredients was also a motif for many of the chefs participating in workshops, demos and pop-ups.
Among the highlights:
- Pastry chef David Chow David H. Chow Chocolates, Toronto, used Valrhona Opalys chocolate for a Caprise Bonbon, layered tomato pate de fruit and a basil, Parmesan, olive oil ganache, using Pomi strained tomatoes and Colavita olive oil.
- Pastry chef/partner Tavel Bristol-Joseph, Emmer & Rye, Austin, Texas, topped Burnt Bread Amino Panna Cotta with bran Texas pecan granola, and tomato jam, with flower garnishes from Fresh Origins. The restaurant’s zero-waste pantry program has been winning plaudits for its environmental efforts.
- Constructing your own “Cake Nouveau” was the theme of New York pastry chef Erin Kanagy-Loux’s workshop where the colorful layers that emerged from the ovens included pumpkin seed, Cassis, olive, and sorrel, along with a more traditional strawberry.
- Each day at pop-up carts and sponsor’s stands, chefs handed out dishes related to the conference theme of respect. Among homages to the onion: Il Buco Alimentari pastry chef Clare Gordon’s pepperoni pop-tarts at Rational USA, filled with sauteed peppers and onions in a butter crust. (5) Chef /owner Nicolas Delaroque, Nico, San Francisco, offered a caramelized onion Madeleine, with burgundy truffle and Saint Andre mousse for sponsor, the French Ministry of Agriculture; (6) and Vince Nguyen, chef/owner Berlu, Portland, Oregon, caramelized onions for a milk sorbet with white chocolate and berries.
- Responding to “Respect the Peppercorn” day pastry chef Juliann Stoddart, Parkside Projects, Austin, baked Tarte de Santiago with a cherry-black pepper meringue, and a pink vanilla/peppercorn cream.
- Joey Ward, executive chef at Atlanta’s Gunshow, summed up the sweet/savory meet-up at his workshop: Flip and Reverse it: Pastry-Meets-Savory Techniques. Declaring, “I could never be a pastry chef, I love sweets too much,” Ward explained that many savory chefs used to shy away from pastry because “there was too much to measure. It’s easier in the modern kitchen.” Workshop participants easily assembled his dark chocolate cake with muscadine ganashe, and a crispy passion fruit meringue, and savory cauliflower flan with lemon olive oil.