Brandy started off her Taste Talks weekend bright and early on Saturday morning at Revival Food Hall, which served as the new home for all of the food demos, panels, and seminars that form the center of the conference. Mindy Segal's Hot Chocolate stand provided a bounty of brunch bites, such as sweet and savory composed bagel toast and uniquely flavored mini donuts. The items were so popular in fact that many attendees didn't get a chance to taste them before they disappeared, (Brandy, on the other hand, had planned ahead and made sure she arrived early enough to have a crack at the goodies).
She then settled in for a morning of demos and tasting in the main hall. Future Top Chef contestant and Chef at Spiaggia, Joe Flamm showed off his knife skills by filleting a salmon live in front of the crowd, then composed it into a simple crudo. Fabio Vivani was next, demystifying pasta making by showing the crowd how he could create fresh pasta in less than two minutes and make it into a composed dish in less than ten. Jenner Tomaska from Next made a rare appearance, talking about how the creative geniuses in his kitchen find inspiration for their dishes in unexpected places; from centuries old French cookbooks to childhood favorite poems (indeed, all of Tomaska's talk of "story telling" and "narrative" prompted Brandy to suggest that he might want to consider partnering with some noted fiction writer in order to create an original narrative that could be then be made edible, an idea he seemed to take a shine to. So let it be known that should such a menu appear at Next, Chicago will have Brandy to thank for it!). The last demo Brandy attended had her delighting in watching Phillip Foss of El Ideas explain the genesis and evolution of his signature dish, French Fries and Ice Cream. She was even more pleased when she had a chance to sample that hot and cold, sweet and savory wonder consisting of vanilla whipped cream frozen instantly with liquid nitrogen spooned on top of warm cream of leek soup with small chunks of thrice fried potatoes at the bottom.
There were definitely some bumps in the road for this year's Taste Talks, but there was also a great lineup of chefs throughout the weekend who brought their passion and skills to the plate. For more drool worthy pictures (of both the chefs and their food) make sure to stop by Bunny and Brandy's Facebook Page.
The writers of this blog were invited to attend Taste Talks free of charge in order to facilitate the writing of this post.