On September 29th, a handful of America’s most visionary chefs, culinary and hospitality minds gathered to ponder an increasingly relevant and difficult to answer question, “How do we define American Food?”. The Roots of American Foodways, presented by Imbibe + Inspire’s Stephen Torres took place on the top floor of the Hotel 71 Wyndham in Chicago. Chubo was honored to be part of a thought provoking and enlightening day of talks followed by a stunning meal from some of the world’s most talented chefs. Highlights below. Photography courtesy of Evan Sung and Imbibe + Inspire.
The program kicked off the morning session with Chef Hugh Acheson of Georgia’s 5&10, The National and Empire State South. Hugh’s talk entitled, “ Don’t Eat the Red Herring: The Quest to Define American Food” and cleared up myths about the heritage of southern food traditions.
Melanie Dunea is the creator and photographer behind “My Last Supper“, a series that asks famous chefs and food personalities, “What would be your last meal on earth?” Melanie spoke about “Food Porn: Painting and Photos” Tracing our obsession with capturing what’s on our plates and what it means for culinary culture today.
Dave Beran, Chef of Next in conversation with Francis Lam on, “Telling Stories through Meals and Menus” It provided a rare glimpse into what goes into creating a story driven menu like the ones found at Alinea and now Next, Specifically charting how a concept or intangible idea ultimately winds up on a diner’s plate.
BlackBird Pastry Chef, Dana Cree treated us to a mind blowing ice cream social with flavor combinations like Malort (Chicago’s original wormwood spirit) Bubble Gum (deriving its flavors from the very natural vanilla, banana, orange and lemon) as well as Raspberry Licorice and Burnt Honey.
Ed Lee of Louisville, KY’s 610 Magnolia spoke about “The Antho(a)pology of the ‘Other’ American Cuisine” a truly fascinating insight into how foreign culinary traditions are appropriated and often misunderstood.
Lastly Will Guidara of Eleven Madison Park spoke about “Establishing Cultural Roots” The talks were followed by cocktails from Chicago’s Rare Tea Cellar.