Last week was the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) conference at the Hilton in downtown. I volunteered on Saturday, and got to sit in on a couple sessions.
-- Cooking from the Edge of Vietnam and Texas, with Chef Duc Tran, a Vietnamese refugee who grew up in Texas, but has returned to Vietnam and opened his restaurant, The Mango Rooms. He prepared some Asian fusion foods -- seared ahi tuna on top of a bed of mango salsa. Students from one of the local culinary schools had assisted by pre-making the mango salsa. Chef Tran then seared the tuna pieces, and they passed out samples -- delicious!-- The Science of Baking, with chemist Shirley Corriher. I actually got to chat with her a little prior to the Vietnamese session above. Shirley's class was using the same ballroom, where a demo kitchen had been erected, and she was a touch concerned about the limited amount of time for set up between the two sessions. She and her husband were rather delightful, and had enjoyed their time in Austin thus far. For those who are fans of Alton Brown's Good Eats show, you may recognize her as the food scientist who occasionally shows up to explain the food chemistry. For her session at IACP, she had a nice handout with baking tips, as well as the recipe for an extremely light buttermilk biscuit that was served with raspberry chambord butter. Yes, we all swooned when we tried the tender biscuit!
-- Let There Be Light! Harnessing the Right Light for Digital Food Photography, with married photographers Diane Cu and Todd Porter. This engaging couple really had some great tips on how to look at lighting when you are photographing something, and they emphasized trying to use inexpensive props to bounce or diffuse light when doing a shoot. I took some good notes, which I need to review and see what I can incorporate.
-- On Saturday evening, there was an optional event for conference participants: Up in Smoke, held at Boggy Creek Farm. The event was co-sponsored by IACP and Foodways Texas, with proceeds benefiting the Sustainable Food Center. Dai Due roasted a feral hog onsite, Hoover's had pork ribs and beans, Trace restaurant had various sides, El Naranjo made lamb barbacoa...and more, those were just the ones I tried! It was a delicious finish in a lovely setting!