Posted by Porcshe N. Moran
Anyone who reads this blog won't be surprised to know that I love food. It's a big part of both my professional and personal life. My first restaurant review was published 15 years ago in my junior high school newspaper. Now, I write about food and wine for various print and online media outlets. Every Saturday morning, I excitedly read the business section of the local newspaper to see if any new eateries are opening. I plan vacations around the dining establishments that I want to visit. If there is a food-related event that is happening near my home, I'll likely be there. You get the point, food is quite important to me!
Last Friday, I had the opportunity to attend The Art of Food: Culinary Arts in the Media Conference on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia, Mo. The conference, presented by the University Club of MU, consisted of panel discussions, educational seminars, cooking demonstrations, lunch and dinner. The purpose of the day was to explore the relationship between chefs, culinary artists, and the media experts, journalists, photographers and writers who tell the stories of their edible craft. My goal was to get tips on how to improve my food writing and photography skills and to network with others in the industry.
Here are a some highlights from the event:
The first demonstration of the day was from Chef Ray L. Duey who showed us his stellar fruit and vegetable carving abilities. His impressive resume includes being part of a team that did fruit carvings for President Barack Obama at the White House, competing on two Food Network shows and winning seven gold, silver and bronze medals with the Professional Chef's Association and the American Culinary Federation. As if watching his amazing artistry wasn't enough, he kept his presentation interesting by inserting heartfelt stories, humor and music. For example, he played the Eagles' song 'Life in the Fast Lane" while carving a turtle out of an apple.
The University Club provided a delicious lunch buffet of seasonal dishes made with local produce. I filled my plate with heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, a candied bacon lollipop, and sweet potato and maple profiteroles. I also had Missouri Legacy Beef roulades with onion confit, bacon and blue cheese herb-roasted fingerling potatoes, Troutdale Farm pan-fried trout with grapes, pecans and lemon Worcestershire sauce served with tri-colored orzo, and Country Neighbors Farm chicken in natural au jus served with roasted squash and a root vegetable medley. There were a variety of desserts available too. I tried the club-made sorbet and the creme brulee. During lunch, Todd Kliman, food and wine editor at Washingtonian magazine, gave an excellent speech about the experience and expectations of dining out. He was followed by Chef Martin Heuser, owner of Affäre in Kansas City, who did a demo-tasting of baked quail ballontine wrapped in cabbage with almonds, cranberries, cassis jus and red beet puree.
The final session of the day was a demonstration by Nathaniel Reid, executive pastry chef at The Ritz Carlton, St. Louis. In an hour and a half, he showed us how he makes three of his most popular desserts including Ruby, a chocolate cake filled with raspberry tea-flavored mousse and wrapped in a shiny, red raspberry glaze. He also made a pistachio cake, called Jarmo, filled with a pistachio mousseline and topped with fresh strawberries, raspberries and chopped pistachios. Reid's third dish was his Ambrosia raspberry macarons that are filled with raspberry jam and orange blossom water chantilly. He was joined on stage by his wife Lee Lee who is also a pastry chef.
The grand finale of the conference was a dinner reception at the Missouri Theatre. Each section of the building featured a different type of food and beverages. In the main lobby, there were Missouri wines, champagne and passed appetizers. Another lobby had a cold buffet of domestic and exotic fruit, chilled and marinated vegetables, smoked, chilled and cured sustainable seafood, and pâtés and terrines. On the theatre stage, there were four stations. The Asian noodle bowl station was helmed by Chef Daniel Pliska of the University Club and apprentice graduate Scott Gestring. They served a trio of lo mein, soba and pad thai bean thread noodles mixed with Asian vegetables and hoisin ginger roast duck, star anise brine smoked pork, and Thai chili and lime spiced grilled shrimp. Chef J. Kevin Walker, of The Vintage Club, served chili-seared duck breast with anchor-maple braised duck ragout and semolina dumplings. Seared salmon with pickled blueberries, smoked onion caramel and fennel confit was on the menu at chef Tim Bucci's station. Chef Gui Alinat presented aigo boulido, a provençal garlic soup topped with a poached egg. The rooftop patio area was reserved for an incredible spread of desserts and pastries by Reid, verrines and macarons by patissiers Jen Grob and Margaret Hughes and tortes by Pliska.
I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed The Art of Food: Culinary Arts in the Media conference. It was a well-organized, inspiring event that brought together incredibly talented people from both the culinary arts and media worlds for a day of great food, thoughtful conversation and professional development.
Hello! I am Porcshe N. Moran. My nearly two decades of professional experience covers print and digital journalism as well as strategic communications, content marketing and copywriting.