Want a “taste” of what the chefs were saying at the 2016 StarChefs International Chef Congress (ICC) (www.starchefs.com/cook/icc)? Here’s a brief recap covering everything from trends to favorite ingredients.


On Inspiration:

“My inspiration comes from nature and seasonality. Also, I like to find and work with ingredients that have known medicinal value. Basically, products need to taste great but I’m of the belief that regardless of whether you know a beverage is healing you, you need to think about whether it’s still working to improve your situation which by extension improves everyone's life.”

Eli Cayer, Urban Farm Fermentory, Portland, ME


“We get our inspiration from travel. A lot of what gets us going is the diversity in eating and drinking culture across the globe. Back in the USA, we’re big road-trippers and we find the lesser known foodie/cocktail destinations to be really invigorating -- Kansas City, Tucson, Houston, etc., have really talented and driven communities.”

Chad Arnholt & Clare Sprouse, Tin Roof Drink Community, NYC


“I’m inspired by the vistas of our restaurant – we’re on the 16th floor overlooking the city and we like to come up with different ideas based on the story and history of Chicago.  I’m also inspired by the faces of Sixteen, meaning our employees. We recently developed a dish that came from Joe, our Liberian dishwasher, and the tastes he grew up eating. I’m also inspired by travel.”

Thomas Lents, Sixteen, Chicago, IL


CLICK HERE to view the Top Food Trends for 2017

“I get inspiration from our locale, from what’s in our area waters. We very much rely on the relationship with our fisherman for what’s fresh.”

Hari Cameron, a(MUSE.), Rehoboth, DE


“I get inspiration from nostalgia – from flavors I grew up with.”

Shane Devereux, Monday Nights at DD, Atlanta, GA


On Milling:

“We’ve worked hard to seek out and support local growers and millers. Just like we want to know what and who is behind our fish, meat, vegetables, I wasn't happy using grains from some anonymous source in the Midwest or wherever. We know everything about the grains we use just like the other foods that we serve to our guests. And, we have the benefit of the relationships we've formed with the growers so we can get different varieties and better insight into qualities season to season.”

Jason Bond, Bondir, Cambridge, MA


“Buckwheat is my favorite of the alternative wheat flours. It used to be this waste product. Now [because chefs are including buckwheat in dishes] it’s become a sustainable crop for farmers.”

Melissa Denmark, Gracie’s, Providence, RI


“Milling is a lost tradition and one I’d like to see us get back to.”

Jonathan Beno, Lincoln Ristorante, NYC


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On Favorite Ingredients:

“I really enjoy working with wild cultures such as cider yeasts as they have evolved along with the fruit and can bring out wonderful characteristics in the ferment.”

Eli Cayer, Urban Farm Fermentory, Portland, ME


“Fortified wines, of course. Vermouth, aperitifs, sherry, Madeira, and so on, appeal to us because they add complexity and acidity without too much of an alcoholic kick. They're also very easy to mix with simply and on the fly -- you can make a quick vermouth and soda or sherry cobbler without too much prep work and it can be just as unique of an experience as any other bespoke cocktail.”

Chad Arnholt & Clare Sprouse, Tin Roof Drink Community, NYC


“I’m a big fan of vegetables, in particular winter root vegetables. Right now I’m doing a lot with rutabaga. I also like cauliflower. And I use Szechuan peppers and for spices, cumin. And I love Jerusalem artichokes.”

Benjamin Lambert, Restaurant 701, Washington, DC


“In most cases I prefer to focus on beans and legumes as a center of plate building block for a vegetarian or vegan dish. Tofu in its many forms (silky, firm or fried) is definitely a go to choice. I enjoy the taste and texture of seitan, but because it’s based on gluten it has fewer options for me in a catering menu situation. The Beyond Meat products have worked well because they are vegan and gluten free, and have ground beef or chicken like texture. They take to dressing up with our own sauces or preparation. I also love Japanese herbs. Shiso is a favorite and you can use it in many forms. I often to turn to Latin American or Asian flavors. Stews, stir fries, etc. work very well because the product gets sauced up. I usually include lots of vegetables, mushrooms, fresh herbs, chiles where appropriate.”

John Sundstrom, Lark, Seattle, WA


“We’re about celebrating vegetables and ancient grains a lot. I particularly like farro. I also like using hazelnuts. And, because we look to local for our inspiration, I love black cod which is central to Seattle.”

Joe Ritchie, Goldfinch Tavern, Seattle, WA


“I love organ meat. It’s an important part of everything I do.”

Chris Cosentino, Corkscomb, San Francisco, CA


“My favorite ingredient is pasteurization you can smell.”

Sam Mason, Oddfellows, Brooklyn, NYC


“Coconut is a love of mine, candied violet. These kinds of ingredients are light and work so well with chocolate. They cut through the richness and lift the flavors higher.”

Christopher Ford. Executive Pastry Chef, Beverly Wilshire, Los Angeles, CA


“Produce from the market. We get so psyched when spring hits and the first asparagus and greens appear. In summer, we make ample use of tomatoes, peppers, and corn. In fall, we move on to sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts. We have monthly side specials at HBFC that are always using what is in season at the farmer’s market.”

Christina Cikowski & John Kulp, Honey Butter Fried Chicken, Chicago, IL


CLICK HERE to view the Top 7 Culinary Trends for 2017 from Around the Web


On Trends

“I think there’s a big trend of mimicking the look of actual fruit, larger formatted pastries and bright colors.”

Christopher Ford. Executive Pastry Chef, Beverly Wilshire, Los Angeles, CA


“You don't have to go to a speakeasy to find a good cocktail anymore. Restaurant bars are really producing excellent experiences and pushing the traditional mindset of only pairing wine with food. Low ABV cocktails resonate well in this arena because they tend to not overpower the food, are often wine-based and more approachable to wine-drinkers, and aren't as regretful as the old ‘3 martini lunch.’

Brandy is another trend that we've been seeing pick up steam over the last couple of years. Cognac has always been the workhorse brandy for the cocktail crowds, but now you're seeing more mixing with Calvados, domestic fruit brandies, Armagnac, and Grappas.”

Chad Arnholt & Clare Sprouse, Tin Roof Drink Community, NYC


“Reducing waste has been an important goal for us. We’re committed to using every bit of the ingredients we receive and using them creatively in our cooking. Also, fried chicken nachos are pretty trendy.”

Christina Cikowski & John Kulp, Honey Butter Fried Chicken, Chicago, IL


On Food Scraps:

“Celery leaves! The all too often discarded, delicious center of a bunch of celery.”

John Vermiglio, Grey Ghost, Detroit, MI


“Vegetable trim. So much flavor in peel, stem, root, core, seed, the offal of the plant world.”

Hari Cameron, a (MUSE.), Rehoboth, DE


“Potato peels, cresto di gallo, braised meat in whey, toasted squash seeds, mushroom stem broth, and organ meats.”

Joe Cicala, Le Virtù, Philadelphia, PA


“I utilize most fish scraps for sausage.  It allows for a more composed dish than to just have odd portions for a stew.  The sausage is a more versatile item that we use for multiple applications in the kitchen.  It adds a special ‘fat’ component that could be necessary to the dish.”

Shane Devereux, Monday Nights at DD, Atlanta, GA


“We have written extensively on utilizing everything. It’s an essential part of our ongoing creative process.”

Alex Talbot, Ideas in Food, Doylestown, PA

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