Having wrapped up its forth year and still going strong, the International Chef's Congress, organized by StarChefs.com and held every September, is still the premier food event in America.
I've attended three of the past four Chef's Congresses, and the only disappointing thing was that I didn't attend all four. With guests spanning the culinary elite from countries the world over, the roster of Chef's Congress speakers and demonstrators reads like a list of angels—and even some deities—from food heaven: Pierre Hermé, Albert Adria, Frédéric Bau, Ken Oringer, José Andrés, Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud, Marcus Samuelsson, Masaharu Morimoto, Wylie Dufresne, Oriol Balaguer, Joël Robuchon, Gualtiero Marchesi, Dan Barber, Elena and Juan Mari Arzak, Elizabeth Falkner, Charlie Trotter, Pierre Gagnier, Grant Achatz, Paco Torreblanca, Pichet Ong, Albert Trummer....
The Congress, a three day event, not only highlights the talents and trends in the universe of food, it brings together seasoned professionals with budding up-and-comers for an exciting exchange of knowledge, experiences and ideas . Young chefs leave the event inspired, energized, and rearing to rise up in the food world and make a name for themselves with their own culinary creations.
At the fourth annual Congress I had the great good fortune of meeting founder Antoinette Bruno and spending a day watching her in action. A veritable force of energy on two legs, without Antoinette this event wouldn't go off nearly as well as it does, year after year. Of course every event of such a large scale has blips, but Bruno trouble-shoots in real time, juggling Blackberry messages, walkie-talkie communications among staffers, and the schedules of her star chefs, all while maintaining an air of sheer joy at watching her event unfold—like a kid who started her own candy shop. As if that weren't enough, Bruno is also a talented self-taught photographer whose images of food and chefs grace the pages of the Congresses' glorious program book.
Antoinette Bruno w/ Juan Mari Arzak
Masaharu Morimoto (on Fish, of course), Iron Chef
The Highly Animated Jose Andres of Mini Bar, Washington DC
Owner Rohini Dey and Executive Chef Maneet Chauhan, At Vermilion