Headliner Simon Majumdar will talk food and food experiences at CSES2016
THE EMAIL HIT MY INBOX RIGHT before New Years Eve. “Hi from Jerusalem,” it said. “I’d be happy to answer your questions by email. Just let me have them and I’ll get right back to you. Best, Simon.”
That’s how food expert and world traveler Simon Majumdar operates—on the fly, gracious as heck, and incredibly accommodating. Thousands of miles and an eight-hour time difference will not keep him from saying hello to the readers of Catersource.
A little background: in his Tuesday morning class at the Mirage Hotel, “Go Everywhere. Eat Everything.” you’ll listen to Majumdar discuss his journey from being a successful publisher in the UK to becoming one of America’s most respected food critics and culinary personalities. As one could only expect, you will no doubt hear about his journeys around the globe, as well as anecdotes from his appearances on the Food Network. He’ll also talk catering-friendly food trends, new cuisines, styles, and systems.
But back to that email exchange. Or exchanges, I should note, because we went back and forth over a couple of days, talking (typing) about food, and his appearance at CSES. My first question, however, was—why Jerusalem over the holiday season?
SM: It was our first visit to Israel. The desire to visit was fueled both by the great things I had heard about the developing food scene in the country, and the fact that I studied theology at University, so have a fascination with the country’s history.
KS: What was one of the most interesting food experiences you had while you were in Jerusalem?
SM: Israel is really such a mix of cuisines, taken from all of the people who have come there from around the world. Perhaps my favorite taste of the whole trip was actually in
Tel Aviv. It was a sandwich called Sabich, which is taken from Iraqi Jewish settlers who brought their breakfast tastes with them (fried eggplant, boiled eggs, fresh cucumbers, and an amba sauce—similar to an Indian mango chutney). In Israel, they took the ingredients and added them to pitta and made it portable. Wonderful stuff.
KS: I saw a short clip on your website—you were in a Jerusalem market with your wife behind the camera, wishing your viewers a Happy New Year. Most of us will never make it to a place like this…did you buy anything?
SM: We did buy a few things in the market; although we travel very light so did not have a great deal of room. We picked up some spices and some freshly ground tahini paste (ground sesame seeds) mixed with Nutella. Rather delicious.
KS: Can you give us a tease on what you will be speaking about at CSES?
SM: I am still working on my presentation, but I would like to show the attendees some of the food trends and cuisines I have encountered around the world. This might be regional Indian (wonderful biriyanis) or from our recent trip to Israel—the joys of really amazing hummus and pitta bread. Also, I’ll talk about the trend toward live stations of preparation and even ‘self construct’ meals where you allow guests to create their own burgers, pizzas, etc.
In addition to his seminar at the Mirage, Majumdar will also be present throughout the Conference and Tradeshow, signing his books, demonstrating a couple of favorite dishes on the Tradeshow floor, and leading the judging team at the DICED competition on Tuesday.
I asked him if he could reveal what he will be cooking for attendees on the Tradeshow floor.
SM: I am still working on this right now, but I think one of the dishes will be from my Indian heritage. I do this a lot in my demos and the response is always amazing.
Finally, about that epiphany he had a decade ago; the one in which he quit his desk job and followed his quest to “go everywhere, eat everything”—in essence, making good on a goal he had scrawled out on a piece of paper many years before and then happened upon at a most opportune time. Ten years later, with the books Eat My Globe: One Year in Search of the Most Delicious Food in the World and Fed, White, and Blue: Finding America with My Fork under his belt, I asked him: ‘Go Everywhere, Eat Everything’ was a mantra for your 40s. Do you have a new quest for your 50s?
Emailing from the UK this time (just a six hour difference this time), he jotted off his answer:
SM: It’s pretty much the same, but I am lucky that I now have a wife who wants to explore with me. There are still so many countries left to visit and my wife and I are already planning our trips for ’16 and ’17! All best, Simon.
Simon Majumdar will be presenting Go Everywhere. Eat Everything on Tuesday, March 15 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. at the Mirage Hotel and will also be appearing on the Tradeshow floor. Click here for more information.