Descending on Street Feast Hawker House, we kicked off the Culinary Congress London 2018 with a day full of food, carefully crafted drinks, discussion and insight into a range of foods, regions and trends. The areas covered by our array of chefs and speakers included Modern British, Zero Waste, Persian and Patisserie and Desserts to name a few.
No mean feat stepping up as the first speaker of the day… but celebrated British-Iranian chef Sabrina Ghayour took to the stage and both inspired and educated with her talk and demo on Persian cuisine. Sabrina focused on two flavours, Sumac and Barberry, and created some stunning samples to get the senses going in the morning.
Switching from Persian to much closer to home, Tom Aikens, founder of Tom's Kitchen, took us through a close up on British Cuisine as well as his culinary journey. "My style has generally come from the two chefs I worked with, Pierre Koffman & Joel Robuchon. Joel was as much about the essence of a dish in terms of how it looks creatively – the presentation, the prettiness of a dish, they all have a lot of flavour. Pierre was very much about the gutsy taste rather than the presentation. The way that I come up with dishes and my style is a mix of the two. I'm very much focused on the seasonality of the food – it's the most important point to me."
Already a speaker at our Trends Event last year, Judy Joo took us through the whole realm of Korean culture an cuisine, from K-Pop to Kimchi, with some Korean Fried Chicken to go around for all to try too. "Korean Fried Chicken is a $4.2b industry, and that was in 2016. There are over 50,000 Korean Fried chicken shops in Korea. What makes it different? The extra crunch. This usually comes from the double frying technique. Then there's the sauces too."
Before a pause for food, Doug McMaster, the man behind zero-waste restaurant Silo in Brighton, gave the room an insightful guide through his eco-friendly visions and processes to ensure that his restaurant continues running with no bins and no waste. "We break things into their many parts and synchronise them back together in different ways. There's no such thing as a bi-product at Silo, it's just another thing that we can use."
What to do for lunch on a day full of foodie inspiration? Fitting with the Street Feast location, guests had a choice of street food stalls Laffa or YumBum to fill up on before the afternoon got underway.
After lunch, French chef Greg Marchand, of Frenchie, took us on a journey through his views on the state of French Cuisine, as well as multitasking to cook up some beautiful dishes including Asparagus, Smoked Egg Yolk and Parmesan Mousse; and a delectable Banoffee to accompany. "Modern french - you need to be anchored in the past, to understand the culture and technique, to master the techniques. You need to be open minded and to travel a lot. This is what French cuisine is today – rooted in tradition but one that's looking to the future."
Decorated pastry chef Claire Clark followed took us from the sweet Banoffee that Greg created to a look at what's happening in the world of patisserie and desserts. With an expert opinion from one of the industry's biggest names, it was all about colour, bright, and reinventing the classics. Claire talked through what's going to be big this year and next, as well as some of the inspirations behind her creations. Look out for rose chocolate people! "Looking at what's changing in the world of desserts and sweet things, this year it's all about reinventing the modern classics. Eton Mess tart, Pimms tart, vanilla cheesecake, sticky toffee tart, baby lemon meringue Victoria Sponge … that kind of thing. This year more than even it's about bright, bold, more visual than ever. All the big, bright, bold colours."
Following Clare, two young and inspiring faces took to the stage – Iré Hassan-Odukale and Jeremy Chan, the guys behind West African inspired restaurant Ikoyi London. Self-proclaimed 'aliens' to West African food, they take inspiration from the cultures, the flavours and the dishes served in West Africa to create dishes at their London venue. For these two it is all about taking the West African feel, and adding their own twist: "We don't cook food to be authentic, we simple cook to make the most intense flavours possible – as much reaction and impact as possible for our guests."
Last but not least, David Carter of Smokestak gave a meaty look at American BBQ and Smoking, doing an encapsulating demo of smoking a brisket of beef, which everyone got to have a taste of to keep the taste buds stimulated. "I try and embrace the different styles of barbecue – US, Asian, Middle Eastern and more." The smells floating around the room alone were enough to make people want to stay for more, but David's demonstration brought the day to a close.
There was time for networking and drinks before heading home to push reset before another day of insight, food inspiration and education on Day 2. More to come!