One of the main reasons why I am in Sydney in October, is to participate in all the activities at the festival. The highlight of the fest was the chef food showcase, where the best chefs from all over the world, presented their favorite recipes, held panel discussions, signed autographs, as well as taking photos. The ticket to attend a program for one day was $285! However, it was so well worth it! Unlimited coffee, lunch (I had sushi!), cupcakes, dumplings, wine, and fruit were provided all throughout the day. I really didn't know what to expect from a 9:30-5:00pm program schedule, where all the food demos were held in one room. I enjoyed every segment, every food demo, and most of all, actually meeting these chefs in person! I think I was the only one in the room from the U.S., and during one of the panel discussions, I mentioned I was from Chicago.
Then people started coming up to me about how they would love to go to visit 'Alinea'! I soon found out most of these chefs have been to Chicago, specifically to visit Alinea and Charlie Trotters. Of course I had to give my plug on other Chicago favorites. My 'Chicago' connection has never sparked so much interest from these chefs, when I was asking for their autographs. I was able to get 3 more minutes of their time, more than the others that were eagerly awaiting to shake their hands. Woohoo for me!
Edward Kwon was one of the chefs that I definitely had to meet! He is one of the top chefs from Seoul, who has a restaurant and his own cooking show. During his segment, I think all the Koreans from Sydney came out of the woodworks, just to see him. I had a chance to meet him after his demo, I presented him my business card and discussed Chicago, (spoke to him in English the whole time, he's quite fluent!). I also had a great discussion with one of the top food critics of Paris-Sebastien Demorand. He is a fan of Rick Bayless, and loves Chicago. Even though I gave him my contact info, I forgot to get his...and ever since I have been pounding my head for that.
Here are the chefs I met at the Chef Showcase (all from just one program, there were 6):
Sergi Arola (Madrid-www.sergiarola.es/)
Alexandre Bourdas (Paris-alexandre-bourdas.com)
Cheong Liew (Adelaide-www.thegrangerestaurant.com.au)
Edward Kwon (Seoul-www.edwardkwon.com)
Justin North (Sydney-www.becasse.com.au)
Alvin Leung (Hong Kong-www.boinnovation.com)
Peter Gordon (London, NZ-www.longrain.com)
Sebastien Demorand (Paris)
Matt Preston (Host of the Master Chef Australia)