Want to rub elbows with the nation's brightest culinary stars? The 6th annual StarChefs conference opened yesterday at the Park Place Armory with a star-studded roster of speakers.
The event is open only to industry professionals, however for culinary students and restaurant workers, this is a dazzling opportunity to ask questions and get your hands dirty with a workshop from your favorite kitchen god (or goddess). There is also opportunity to walk away with a dash of fame; 20 rising pastry chefs are in fierce competition to win the International Pastry Competition.
This year's theme was "The Sixth Sense: Intuition, Emotion and Experiential Evolution in Dining." Lots of fancy words, to be sure, but there is nothing pie-in-the-sky about Grant Achatz's determination to enter your psyche as a diner, as he spoke about the broadening role of food as entertainment.
The StarChefs conference is certainly smaller than other industry conferences (like the National Restaurant Association show), but the more intimate vibe allows you to dive in without feeling overwhelmed. There is a good smattering of equipment vendors, food suppliers and other merchandise to check out, but the real meat of the conference is not the Australian lamb, but the main stage presentations and workshops.
Want to hear about building a charcuterie empire? Daniel Boulud will enlighten you. Interested in making ethereally light macarons? Pierre Herme has traveled straight from Paris to guide you in an interactive seminar. Curious about the thought process that pushes a concept to a plate? Laurent Gras demonstrates visual storytelling through a fish eye and Picasso paintings.
More highlights and photos from the StarChefs conference after the jump: