NEW YORK — Once a year, about 1,500 foodies convene at a predetermined location to consume any and all food-related offerings and activities the host city has to offer as part of the International Association of Culinary Professionals convention.
The Big Apple offers more food adventure and education than anyone could pack into a week. We rubbed elbows and garnered wisdom from colleagues, Food Network stars, cookbook publishers, magazine editors, educators, entrepreneurs, authors, chefs and producers from around the globe.
We had a smorgasbord of choices. Fellow Oklahoma member Susan Zubic, of Edmond, perfected her French macaron-making skills, while I studied the chemistry and science of ice cream from a world-renowned authority in the craft. I gained a new respect for great ice cream in the process, and of course I tasted some fine examples of what remains one of my favorite desserts.
There were opportunities to participate in the Chefs Move to Schools program; learn about and taste the fresh flavors of New Zealand food and wines; join in a book and blog festival; garner the latest food styling techniques; work with sprouted grain flours; experience the techniques and distinct flavors of the New Nordic cuisine; enjoy an Indian dinner with Madhur Jaffrey at the French Culinary Institute; taste Senegalese cuisine through its ancient grain fonio; and study how to spot food trends. How I wished I could do them all.
The touring possibilities included those unique to the Big Apple locations: the Food Network Kitchens, the new Bon Appetite Test Kitchen, the offices of Saveur, the Good Housekeeping Lab in the Hearst Tower and the Food & Wine test kitchen and wine room.
There were classes at the James Beard House and hands-on experiences from SoHo to Brooklyn to Manhattan and back again.
The conference concluded with the IACP 34th Annual Awards Ceremonies at Times Center with Food Network star Mo Rocca as master of ceremonies. The finalists as well as the winners this year had plenty of books worth considering for purchase.
My favorite books among the finalists come with my own partialities toward certain food and cooking interests.
The awards categories include something for everyone. If you are thinking of purchasing a cookbook gift for Mother's Day, take a look at some of the books mentioned among the finalists and winners mentioned.