Taste Talks, sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, kick off today in Chicago offering three packed days of wonderful talks centring on everything from animal butchery to foraging.
The curators of the exciting event are April Bloomfield and Paul Kahan and they have created a series sure to fill the most hungry food lover.
We caught up with April Bloomfield just before the event to find out more about what she thinks about the dining scene in Chicago and what’s excited her in the kitchen at the moment.
As curator of Taste Talks Chicago, what was your inspiration for the event? What do you hope visitors walk away with?
I am inspired by things going on right now that people are excited about...preservation, fermenting, pickling, foraging, and butchery.
What’s most exciting on the Chicago and NY gastronomic scene so far? What do you think about current US cuisine and what’s your wish for the years ahead?
The US is becoming a healthier place. The food scene is progressive and only getting better and better. Especially Chicago - it's an amazing food town - people are friendly, and there are exciting young chefs working alongside veterans, who continue to do amazing things. It's great to go there. I hope US cuisine continues to be progressive, and stay exciting.
Farm-to-fork, pop-up restaurants, foraging, restaurants that grow their own food. These are some of the hottest restaurant trends at the moment. What do you consider to be the next frontier in the industry?
I think there will be more farming restaurants. People are starting to go outside of the city - something I've wanted to do for a long time. There will be a sprawl in chefs realizing they can make a living outside of the city, in the suburbs or the country.
Hospitality is reaching new heights as hotels recruit top-notch chefs. Based on your experience with The Breslin and The John Dory Oyster Bar (at NY’s Ace Hotel) and Salvation Taco ( Pod 39 Hotel) how do you envision the new relationship between hotels and restaurants?
In times past, there's been a bad reputation between hotels and restaurants. We got into the Ace because of Alex Calderwood. We loved him and his philosophy. Hotels are starting to realize they need that substance and connection to make long standing relationships with restaurants.
You’ve been in the business for decades successfully opening and managing several restaurants and bars in NY and S.Francisco. Aside from great food, what do you think has been the secret to your success? What advice would you give to up and coming chefs who want a long standing career in the business?
Work hard and keep your head down. Do things you believe in and stand for. Have integrity. Stay true to yourself, people will see that, see your authenticity. It shows your truth and integrity.
Staff shortages are hitting the hospitality sector hard, prompting some restaurants to look outside the industry to train those without restaurant experience for life in the kitchen. Andrew Friedman finds out more.