Thursday, August 31, 2006

Las Mil y una Bocas

Del 26 al 29 de octubre se llevará a cabo en Caracas el V Salón de Gastronomía que este año tendrá como estelares a chefs reconocidos del Perú, entre ellos a Gastón Acurio.

Para más información haga click aquí

From October 26-29 , 2006, Caracas, Venezuela will be hosting the 5th International Gastronomy Forum, this year showcasing Peruvian cuisine. The team representing Peru will be headed by Latin America´s top chef Gaston Acurio.

For more information on this not to miss event, click here

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Terra Madre 2006

1500 food communities from 5 continents,
5000 farmers, breeders, fishermen and traditional food producers, 1000 cooks and 200 universities meet in Turin to share experiences and discuss the development of a new concept of agriculture and good, clean and fair food.

For more information click here.

Visit the Terra Madre Blog.

KunsthalCOOKING, Festival of Real Taste

Friday 29 September to Sunday 1 October 2006

For the second time, the Kunsthal will be transformed into the 'Rungis of Rotterdam', just like Paris, a mustering point for Real Taste. Under the title ‘KunsthalCOOKING, Festival of Real Taste’, the Kunsthal will be presenting an all-new event lasting three days and nights, highlighting the cultural aspects of eating and drinking during which honest food, traditional products, small-scale producers and regional specialities will determine the content. This elaborate event, which is to take place in different halls at the Kunsthal, will include demonstrations, tastings, discussions and debates.
The aim is to save culinary traditions and old-fashioned, small-scale ways of preparing food and drink from extinction by combining culture and the culinary arts, and prompting a process of awareness among a wide audience.

For more information click here

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Laboratorios: IACP Panama members meet

IACP members in Panama meet every month to create recipes using indigenous ingredients to our country. We have named these meetings Laboratorios which in Spanish means laboratory and our main goal is to do research on the chosen ingredients, rescue old recipes and develop new ones. Most of the IACP members in Panama are chefs and our "lab" work has turned out to be very interesting. We keep a record of our work and we have even taped and edited a couple of videos. Here are the links to what we have done so far.

Laboratorio 1: Organic Corn
en Español
in English

Laboratorio 2: Coconut
Part I, en Español
Part II, en Español

For the white cocada recipe in English click here.

Here are the 2 videos of our August Laboratorio.

Video 1: Pie de Pipa (Coconut Pie)

Video 2: Cocada Panameña (Dark Coconut sweet from Panama)

Elena Hernandez

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ramen 101

There are all sorts of men in Japan. Not the kind you get squeezed between on the subway, but menrui, or noodles, like soba, udon and ramen. For me, ramen has always been the blue-collar noodle: you wait in line, order from a machine (not a person) and sit or stand wedged between slurping strangers, hunched over their steaming bowls as if they’re getting facials. Click here to read rest the of this article.

Yukari Pratt

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ken Rubin interviews Paula Lambert

During our 2005 IACP Annual Conference in Dallas, Chairwoman, conference host and also IACP former Board President Paula Lambert, opened the doors of The Mozzarella Company for members to visit and learn about cheesemaking. I heard the tour was outstanding and I wish I had gone (but I went on the supermarket tour). Luckily, I just came upon this podcast of an interview of Paula by Ken Rubin of where she describes some of her cheeses and even gives some ideas for using them in recipes, for all of us who missed the tour :)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


The Northeast region was the clear winner of our first poll asking visitors what city they preferred as a venue for a future IACP Conference. Boston was the favorite from the beginning, chosen by 31% of the voters. New York City came in second with 28%, San Francisco came in third place with 18%, followed by Toronto at 15% and Las Vegas at 8%.

photo by Ville Miettinen

Sunday, August 06, 2006

British Cheese Festival

Whatever your age, shape or style there is something for everyone. So join thousands of food lovers from around
the world for Britain´s Biggest Cheese Show and discover more than:
450 cow, sheep, goat & buffalo cheeses to taste and buy from over
50 British food & drink producers
40 masterclasses & cheese demonstrations
36 English wines, real ales, lager & ciders all makes
1 sensational day out in Cheltenham - whatever the weather

This event will take place on Saturday September 30th &
Sunday October 1st, 2006 in Montpellier Gardens, Cheltenham, UK.

For more information click here>.

Here comes the Judge

Imagine this. The unceasing cacophony of barking dogs and sunrise-shift chickens…the incongruous smells of cow manure and hot bread. It’s judging day at the Ferny Flats Annual Cake Show.

Of course the exact location of Ferny Flats remains untellable, but the way it prepares for its annual display of excellence and pride in its cookery prowess is echoed uniquely in countless country towns throughout Australia.

The label ‘cookery exhibition’ is one of the great understatements. They are not just displays of cakes. They are events of great consequence, of great personal achievement, of massive civic pride – staged with equal parts of drama, human exertion, passion, tragedy, and of course, comedy.

The ‘need to win’ at the Ferny Flats Annual Cake show is no less challenging to the entrants as it is for any event in the Olympics. A blue ribbon is a personal triumph – and a victory for the town. Anything less is unacceptable.

Which all adds to the imponderably difficult job of the Judge – the ‘out-of-towner’ who might topple the social standing of the best known Country Lady with a single bite of a lamington.

The criteria for judging cookery may seem logical and relatively simple. The ‘best cake’ must have the best appearance, the best texture, the best smell and the best taste. And a good judge with real ability and experience can always pick a winner.

To understand the business of cookery judging, you should know a little about the beast. Cookery shows can be held by almost anyone or any organization - scout groups, retirement homes, dandelion appreciation groups, waterside workers, and of course, most Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Societies.

In every case, there is an organizing committee usually made up of a president and vice president, a secretary, a treasurer, a publicist, someone who knows how to fix the photocopy machine, and a person to make the tea. Cookery contests take months to devise, plan and prepare. The right venue (usually in a large unventilated tent very close to a lot of animals on a muddy road with no parking and not enough public toilets).

Then there’s the judge and her/his team. Generally speaking, the judge is invariably on the ‘pretty-well-known’ list, and will know exactly what to look for. With the Judge will be one or two ‘Judging Stewards’ In some country shows, these stewards were former judges of itty bitty exhibitions. They had the knack of always winning in the section they judged. Even as my steward/assistant, they had a way of getting their own entry fair and square right under my nose.

The real job of the Steward (or Assistant Judge) is to assist. To help the Judge get to the finalists by eliminating the entries which don’t really have a chance. But most Stewards seem to be there to eat. Not just a sliver, a morsel, a collection of crumbs, but everything. There have been times when I would return to, say, a lamington – to find no more than a few crumbs on the plate. It had been ‘tasted; by the stewards, who explained they were comparing theirs with my palate.

Stewards are usually not thin people. They do not generally excel in the art of conservative tasting. At large country shows, they appear to have an ability to clear a table of cakes not unlike a large industrial vacuum cleaner.

Even after hours of food tasting, when all you crave is a cuppa, the Stewards will lead you off to the morning tea – a virtual orgy of cream cakes, scones, loaves, sandwiches and other ‘judging cut-offs’.

The committee, however, is a deadly serious body. Hell-bent on success for the town, they assemble for the all important Annual meeting.

The place, the date and the time is selected, rejected, amended, resubmitted and adopted, and the word goes out. Ferny Flats is having a Cake Show.

Usually quiet – even on New Year’s Eve – the little town shifts into full-ahead. Mrs. Heeps buys in special flour from another suburb. Narelle (on the corner) postpones the Bridge afternoons for a month and starts to prepare for another batch of her famous rhododendron scones.

There are, of course, cake makers who are born to win. They are the true champions…the ones with the culinary equivalent to the gardener’s green thumb. And then there are the others.

Take for starters the architecturally perfect lamingtons I faced last year at a little New South Wales Country show. Nothing wrong with the color and overall appearance, but it was their precise shape that grabbed my attention…until the taste test. Nobody had told the maker that the judge would taste them. Beneath the layer of coconut and chocolate were carefully carved 2 x 2 blocks of Velvet Soap.

Another memorable example of deception was at a show in Central Victoria when one of my stewards broke a denture on a piece of shortbread – a test which proved very quickly that it was not the ‘melting moment’ it was claimed to be.

Surprises must be handled with equal parts of tact, diplomacy and courage…as was the case during bread judging at a well staged show at a small South Australian town. The final decision was between two entrants. One golden brown, crusty creation was lifted for a closer inspection…to reveal a small mouse baked into the bottom of the loaf.

The Blue Ribbon First Prize…whether it is trophy, sash or hamper, is always accompanied by the certificate. While winning one is a public bathe in glory, the real agony must surely be to ‘just lose out’. Second place is no reward for dedication, toil and heartache that goes into the preparation of so many of the entries with which I have been confronted.

I remember vividly the stressed looking husband at a cake show near Sydney as he made his way delicately to the judging table, carrying an elaborately iced wedding cake complete with delicate handcrafted roses and oh-so-fragile extension piped icing. Just as he was about to place the top tier onto to the ‘Eiffel Tower’ creation, he tripped…right into the cake. Destruction was immediate. Attack from his wife was just as swift. Hurling chunks of broken cake, pillars and roses at her retreating husband, she screamed to the judge: ‘well, you saw it before he got to it…judge it from what it was’. There was no way out. Mrs. Eiffel Tower received a hasty ‘Highly Commended.’

Bad decisions, too, are always possible. In Perth for a special competition to track down the best of 2100 fruit cakes, I was met at the airport by a colleague writer who wanted an opinion on her own cake before she decided to enter the marathon. It was somewhere between awful and horrible, and I told her not to enter. Many years later, the same person became my editor.

The contest was certainly special. The hall was a mountain of fruitcake. All made from one recipe, from which a staggering 2100 variations had been created. Creative genius there was, sprinkled with a generous dash of the God-forsaken. Cakes with crusts of pure charcoal, some in plastic bags, still warm and sprouting mould, some with rancid dairy ingredients, others smashed in transit into a million crumbs. As they say, the Show must go on, and it did.

Did someone dare suggest bribery and corruption…in a Cake Show? It is true there have been many ‘If I don’t win, I’m sunk’ sort of conversations before a show, but as you don’t know the entrants until presentation time, there is precious little chance for the heavies in this game. It’s also true that any judge worth her or his taste buds will stay at a very inconspicuous hotel and give their telephone numbers to nobody.

Still, those hell-bent on bribery will stop at nothing. I can never forget Ricky, the kid who pinned a note under his entry telling me the following: a) he was 12 years old. b) He was very good looking, and c), that he would split his winnings with me. What a chance for me! I replied on the same note with a question for Ricky…did his father cook?

Hints for aspiring cookery judges? Apart from the experience you need, there are a few other requirements if you want to make it to the next show: A Hard Hat, a Cast Iron Stomach, Sharp knives (no, for the cakes), a sense of humor, and an unlisted telephone number.

Kate McGhie
Vice Chair