The last three months of my life was dedicated to this year's StarChefs ICC-International Culinary Congress 2015 held just this past October in Brooklyn. In it's 10th year, this is the largest food conference in North America! Chefs from all over the world, mainly the U.S., gathered under one roof -to learn, to experience, and to get inspired from each other...and from everything in their line of vision. Where else will we be able to brag about being five feet away from MIchel Bras & Jose Andrès (just to name a few). This definitely was the largest event I was involved in, as this three day congress held close to 1,500 folks in one space, with one event team.
I had the amazing...let's just say one-of-a-kind opportunity getting involved at this year's ICC. Why? one of my main projects under my belt was to spearhead the first 'Ramen Battle' at ICC. Was it because I was Asian? As I jokingly asked my director. Well, that may be partially true, haha. Whatever the case may be, this was the most exciting part of my whole process. I could go on and on about Star Chefs, or what I learned from ICC in general. However, to be on the main stage and get to know some pretty freakin awesome Ramen Masters + other chefs, was truly a moment I will definitely never forget. I'll let these photos speak for themselves.
The rules of the Ramen Battle: Five Ramen Masters and their teams (5 randomly selected for each team) have 2 hours to prep their broths the day before the battle. They are not 'allowed' to touch anything, and can only guide their teams to create their secret recipes. On battle day, the whole competition is only 45 minutes (including introductions, plating, judging). Not a whole lot of time. Oh, and to make it just a bit more complicated-each team has to prepare 50 samples per team (totaling 250) for the audience to give it a try. Did I hear complaints from the Ramen Masters before the competition? Well, they were very creative in their responses, and the feedback was definitely constructive.
So what actually happened? As you can see the Ramen Masters end up cooking their own broths (with their teams of course) and got their hands dirty during prep. It turned out that only half of the competitors showed up, and due to power issues with the equipments, we ended up allowing the Ramen Masters fly away with their broths. What could we have done at this point? They all were secretly happy :)
The judge line up:
Wylie Dufresne-New York
Tim Cushman-O Ya, New York
Katsuya Fukushima-Daikaya, Washington D.C.
Adam Sachs-Saveur, New York
Isao Yamada-Brushstroke, New York
And the winner is Mihoko Obunai of Mibo Ramen, Atlanta!
Richie Nakano-San Francisco
Mihoko Obunai-Mibo Ramen, Atlanta
Youji Iwakura-Snappy Ramen, Boston
Harold Jurado-San Francisco (formerly of Yusho, Chicago)
Jamison Blankenship-Chuko, Brooklyn
Jose Andrès was the opening presenter on the main stage. Hailing from Spain + background includes apprenticing at Ferran Adria's of El Bulli. You may have seen him on Anthony Bourdain cooking with Eric Ripert, and endless publications around the world. His latest addition to the Think Food Group is 'minibar by Jose Andrès' in Washington D.C.
Almost every time I ask a chef who they would one day like to meet, Michel Bras seems to be on the top 5 of their list. All the way from Laguiole, France, Michel has been cooking since who knows when. The acclaimed three Michelin starred chef who really has reinvented French cuisine. During his presentation, he started off sharing stories...stories that at first you didn't know how it would relate to what he's about to do. He had a conversation with all the vegetables (weird or not weird?) to see which ones he wanted to use. All of the produce was provided by Blue Hill at Stone Barns of course. The beautiful selection for this presentation titled 'Essential Cuisine on the Hudson' was like listening to your favorite bedtime story. MIchel is a a unique & great storyteller, the fact that he only spoke French was both cute and endearing. Michel told a story about his food, like no other chef...
The final presentation was a very spiritual piece. You could just see that he developed a relationship with each and every ingredient used, and this is how they responded to him. Wow.
All the sponsor booths provided some amazing eats, where they featured ICC chefs...this clam stir-fry presentation was definitely Instagram worthy!
That's a wrap folks!
*all photos literally taken from my iPhone