Part 1 of a 7 Part Symrise Series.

“Guts and Glory” was the theme of the 8th annual International Chefs Congress (ICC) (, which brought together hundreds of chefs, chocolate makers, sommeliers, cheese mongers, bartenders, brewers, pastry specialists, sous chefs, and other food aficionados for three-day’s worth of seminars in everything from the birth of the modern cocktail to Southern sausage making to Gouchujang in the pastry kitchen.

The event, held September 29-October 1 at Super Pier in New York City, featured a variety of well-known and up-and-coming international chefs, celebrating the hard work, dedication, and collaboration that makes this industry so innovative and strong.

Check our photo wrap-up HERE!

Among those in attendance:

Johnny Iuzzini, Sugar Fuel, Inc. (

Andy Husbands, Tremont 647 (

Matt and Ted Lee, The Charleston Kitchen @TheLeeBros (

Dale DeGroff, @kingcocktl (

Elizabeth Falkner, formerly of Citizen Cake @cheffalkner (

Janice Wong, 2 am dessert bar @JaniceWong2am (

Francois Payard, FP Pâtisserie @francoispayard (

Dominique Crenn, Atelier Crenn @dominiquecrenn (

In short: it was a smorgasbord of top chefs.

A Showcase of Culinary Trends Along with the many presentations, there was also a large sampling of food, wine, beer, and cocktails. In the spirit of the continually evolving food truck movement, chefs from across the country presented their dishes from moveable carts. Many of these dishes reflected the trends on display at the Congress; chefs showcased the return to simplicity, ethnic influences (primarily Asian and Spanish), the elevation of barbecue to “smoke,” the increase in house-made charcuterie, and the return of the classic cocktail. The trend towards sustainability and seasonality continues to be a focus for most chefs, and many were extending the flavors from last season through house-made pickling.

Evan Hennessey from Stages at One Washington ( (Dover, NH) showed off his farm-to-table finesse with lacquered New Hampshire pig leg, hay-smoked creamed corn, black garlic, heirloom tomatoes, and marcona almonds, while Mike Isabella of the G Sandwich Shop ( (Washington, D.C.) demonstrated flair for the “new chicken” by using spiced baby goat in his sandwich (which also featured harissa, lemon potatoes, and oregano).

Charcuterie was well represented with dishes such as venison blood sausage, yellow eyed beans, Hoja Santa, and pickled melon from John Bates and Brandon Martinez of the Noble Sandwich Co. ( (Austin, TX) and James Merker of Mile End Delicatessen ( (Brooklyn, NY), who cures his own lamb bacon for use in sandwiches and salads sold in his shop.

Finding Inspiration

Many chefs credited travel among their primary sources of inspiration, trying to replicate the hidden flavors and aromas of what they’ve experienced on the streets and restaurants of Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and China (among other locales) to their home dishes. It’s all part of a movement to experiment with food, revive old traditions, and to get back to basics with simple ingredients.

The bottom line: Today’s chefs are all about collaboration and getting inspiration from what they find in their colleague's kitchen. “We’re all trying to learn from each other, master different techniques and be on the cutting edge,” says Johnny Iuzzini of Sugar Fuel, Inc. He credits the wide-ranging reach of the Internet and the ability to readily access what everyone else is doing as one way to “get motivated and reach out.”

Stay tuned for part 2 of 7 of in the ICC Symrise Series. Next week's post will cover the presence of the "farm-to-table" trend at the event.

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