The first half of the second day of the International Food Blogger Conference in Seattle started with a BANG and just got better and better.
We started Saturday morning with a breakfast sponsored by Nooksa Yoghurt. They provided plain and pumpkin flavored yoghurts along with an assortment of toppings including fresh strawberries, dried apricots, Craisins, M&Ms, sliced almonds, and granola. Fruit juices, coffee, tea, and muffins completed the meal. And again, one of the very best features of the conference was the company at breakfast - open, curious, informative, friendly, and fun.
The first session was presented by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, a husband-wife couple who have been working together for far more than a decade. Their first book was Becoming a Chef, 1992. They interviewed 60 chefs to get an inside look at the culinary industry from a chef's point of view. Karen and Andrew's advice, based on their experience getting this book published, was to persevere even through many rejections and to participate heavily in selling your book - let people know it exists! Their books are:
Becoming a Chef, 1992
Culinary Artistry, 1996 (culinary composition, artistry, creations)
Dining Out, 1998 (interviewing and dining out with restaurant critics)
Chefs' Night Out, 2001 (where and what chefs eat, their transformative experiences)
What to Drink with What You Eat, 2006 (pairing foods with wine, beer, spirits, tea, coffee)
The Flavor Bible, 2008 (reference of compatible flavors)
Food Lover's Guide to Wine, 2011 (which wines go with certain foods and flavors)
The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, 2014 (flavor pairings of vegetables, grains, legumes, herbs, spices)
They mentioned a couple of trends they're seeing. One is treating plants like meat; for example, grilling cauliflower "steaks," increased use of mushrooms instead of meat, and using combinations of vegetables instead of treating each vegetable separately. Another trend is the percentage of Americans eating plant-based diets. Combining those who eat vegan, vegetarian, and semi-vegetarian, are 54% Americans; the remaining 46% are omnivores.
From this session, was a session on photography. I had expected a technical discussion on camera types and settings, lighting, digital decisions, etc. Luckily, I was wrong. Todd Coleman who has been the executive food editor for Saveur for a number of years, was funny, interesting, and gave us a lot of suggestions which I think can be boiled down to, "Don't be banal or boring. Play with backgrounds, settings, light, shadow, color, and shapes. Always photographing perfectly styled food can get boring - sometimes a messy dish is far more interesting." His philosophy is to take photographs that you can be proud of and others can be inspired by. I think the same applies to blogging as well as cooking.
The third session of this jam-packed fantastic morning was Chef Thierry Rautureau. Thierry (pronounced "Terry") is the winner of many awards, both French
and American. He has been featured in many food-related magazines. He
and Chef Tom Douglas have had 2 radio shows in Seattle. He's also been a
featured chef and judge on several TV shows and was a finalist on Top
Chef Masters on Bravo TV. He owns two Seattle restaurants, Loulay and
Luc His session was a cooking demonstration sponsored by Urban Spoon, but honestly what I remember mostly is Thierry himself. He is funny, casual, chatty, informative all at the same time. My favorite parts were when he mimicked Julia Child in a high squeaky voice, "If you're afraid of butter, use cream!"
As he began his demonstrations, he passed around little duck sliders - duck confit stuffed into a profiterole, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and garnished with chives. It was salty, ducky, melt-in-your-mouth, goodness in a tiny bun. What a delicious surprise! His first demonstration was on how to use your garden or farmers' market tomatoes. he made a basic tomato sauce that can be extended into several sauces, made into soup, or pureed into a Bloody Mary. Very easy and versatile. The next demonstration was using chanterelles, sauteed crispy, and used as a topping for a yellow plum jam spiced with the African pepper, harissa. Spread the spiced jam on toasted baguette slices and top with the crispy chanterelles. We didn't get to taste it, but it certainly smelled wonderful. Again, using these basic ideas and techniques, one could make a wide variety of dishes.
With all of these great fragrances and the duck confit in a profiterole as an amuse bouche, we were very hungry for lunch. This was served buffet style and featured salads, roasted vegetables, ratatouille, chicken Parmesan, vegetable lasagne, penne pasta, foccacia, a vegetable platter, and little tiramisu and tartlets with fresh berries, and biscotti for dessert.
And all of this fabulousness was from 7:00 AM - 2:00 PM. WOWIE!