This is the final post in our 2014 Starchefs International Chefs Congress Series on in-sight. Click the tag below this article to view more.
For all of his speed — Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto prepared more dishes than any other presenter at the 9th Annual StarChefs International Chefs Congress — he spent about half of his time on stage talking about fish: How to choose it, clean it, and slice it. Then, he made a point of explaining how the meat on one side of a fish is vastly different than the other depending on what side it has been laying on. The takeaway: High quality fish is the only thing that matters in honest cooking.
In fact, ingredient authenticity was so important to Morimoro and Hisanobu Osaka, the head chef at Morimoto’s newest restaurant Japonais in Chicago, that Osaka said that when you get the best fish, you don’t need to do anything to it. “Americans are too complicated,” he said. Off stage, Osaka even made the point that when he cooks for himself at home, “just a little salt and pepper for me is best.”
The other big takeaway: Inspiration from the Far East continues to inspire the foodie world with its ode to nature’s bounty. Where else in the world would “Soil Soup” attract such legions of followers? Yet, Yoshihiro Narisawa of Narisawa in Tokyo, enthralled participants with his homage to the earth. His presentation, on “Ancient Japan At The Modern Table,” pretty much said it all: Honoring the history of a dish gives you the muse for its more contemporary iteration.
Discussed during the welcome speech, though only seen in small workshops: The mastery of dim sum, a classic, traditional, approachable dish that “embraces an unabashedly Americanized, chef-driven mode of service and fun,” according to StarChefs CEO Antoinette Bruno.
While last year’s Congress was buzzing with the words “kimchi, gouchujang, miso, Szechuan peppercorns and yuzo,” this year’s mood was more about pickling and fermenting, something Japanese cooks have been doing for centuries. Staying true to that ancient story seems to be the driving influence in how—and why—a chef may prepare a dish.
The chef is a storyteller who must be true to himself, stressed Morimoto. “There is only one rule — there is no rule.”