With vast swaths of the Wasatch mountain range in view at almost all times during the Art of Catering Food in Salt Lake City, one might think the breathtaking distraction could prove too alluring for even the most serious of attendees. But instead, this rugged backdrop was patently neglected as hundreds of AOCF attendees networked, sampled, learned, and then reluctantly departed—but with the best of parting gifts: (no, not just bacon)—knowledge! Sponsored by Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, All Seated, American Metalcraft, Inc., Bamboo Studio, Bottles & Wood, Cambro, Chef Rubber, Edibles by Jack, EMI Yoshi, Fresh Origins, Mercer Culinary, SternoCandleLamp, and Total Party Planner, this conference was one for the record books. Here are some highlights of this very action-packed conference.
A full day intensive
Prior to the start of the full conference, Catersource and the ICA offered a mini taste of things to come: the Culinary Hands-on full day intensive, a first for the Art of Catering Food. Bringing over 75 rapt students to the Utah Valley University Culinary Arts Institute for four classes: Butchery & Charcuterie; Technology in the Kitchen; Wow Desserts that Work for Caterers; and Vegan, Vegetarian & Gluten-free Menu Items, the intensive was presented round robin-style with students split into four groups.
Myriad topics were discussed and displayed, from new techniques in sous vide cooking (which Catersource predicted in January 2015 to become more important…and yes, it is) to compiling mini desserts with a seemingly endless combination of flavors, textures, and colors; watching a butchery demonstration, and having a hand at bacon curing; and being up to the elbows in mushrooms, tres leches cake, and Thai coconut quinoa for a class that pretty much ensured Meatless Mondays are thing of the past. Welcome, Meatless Months!
Chefs from all over the US mingled and discussed various concepts and ideas over the lunch hour, featuring a delicious buffet made by UVU students, then got back to business for the remainder of the afternoon. A very full day.
It’s not enough to create recipes that are “great” for vegetarians, vegans, and those who eat gluten-free, said Chef Stuart Stein, CEC. “We as chefs need to create great recipes that just happen to be vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free.” Leaving out meat protein or the gluten is a crucial parameter in developing these recipes, but the defining factors should be taste and flavor, said the chef.
Class participants garnish the vegan and gluten-free Black Bean-Yuca Cakes with Mango-Habanero Mustard, Charred Tomato Salsa, and Baby Arugula in Chef Stein’s class.
Chef Meghan Roddy, CEPC, discussed considerations when planning dessert verrines, including possible components, textures, custards, garnishes, and benefits in her “Wow Desserts” seminar. Here, attendees experimented with various and delicious dessert combinations.
One of the scrumptous concoctions developed in Chef Roddy’s seminar.
Innovative cooking solutions to speed up work in the kitchen, allow faster plating, and keep waste to a minimum (such as freeze dried broccoli) were some of the terrific ideas discussed by Chef Todd Leonard, CEC, in the Technology seminar.
Freeze dried foods make it easy to enhance flavor, texture and color—but also cut waste, labor, and storage. Here, Marriott Hotel’s Jackie Dodart works with freeze dried coconut, mango, tomatoes, and strawberries.
You could smell this class before you saw it: Chef Peter Sproul discussed cold smoked salmon, confit, and rillette, and even “cure your own bacon” for participants to take home after the end of the conference.
Chef Sproul sliced a variety of smoked meat samples (bacon, duck, chicken) for the class.