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.
My favorites among the list include “My Family Table” by John Besh, which is full of beautiful photos and cooking inspirations from his Louisiana family.
This year's awards included five books in the classics category. To paraphrase Julia Child's wisdom that if you can master techniques you won't need a recipe, the list included five books I own and refer to often. My favorite well-used volume of “La Technique: An Illustrated Guide to the Fundamental Techniques of Cooking” by Jacques Pepin (Times Books/Pocket Books, 1978) is struggling to hang onto its cover.
A new favorite book
A finalist among the books and a new favorite cooking reference of mine was written by San Francisco grocer Sam Mogannam and co-author Dabney Gough.
Each time I visit the city. my son and I stop by Sam's Bi-Rite Market. This little store has the most beautiful ingredients orchestrated and carefully considered to provide an inspiring shopping experience.
“Eat Good Food — A Grocer's Guide to Shopping, Cooking, and Creating Community Through Food” is a book I would prescribe for everyone enjoying our expanding food markets here in Oklahoma.
The book is rich in stories, flavor and cooking inspiration. The author even tends bee hives on the roof of his market. His enthusiasm for produce and artisan producers fuels a dedicated community. What to look for when selecting foods is a great resource as we shop our own expanded markets of Oklahoma foods.
I know I am not the only cookbook lover who keeps cookbooks around the house in addition to the kitchen. I also keep them by my reading chair, on the sun-porch and on the nightstand.
Seasonal recipes included in the book tempt and delight. In his spring collection you'll find Heirloom Carrot Ribbons with Pine Nuts and Raisins, Any-Green Pesto, English Pea and Green Garlic Dip, Seared Wild Salmon with Late Spring Succotash and a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with a Ginger Crumb Topping.
I just wish my husband understood why I have to keep collecting cookbooks — he thinks I collect them faster than I cook.