By Chef Alexa Weeks

Many chefs will fondly remember stocks, broths, and soups as the beginning of their formal culinary education. These fundamental techniques were a perfect way to utilize irregular knife cuts of a novice chef. Stocks and broths became building blocks, the foundation on which other flavors and dishes could be built.

The broth revival may have some questioning what the difference is between stocks and broths. The topic is often hotly debated (no pun intended) but in general, a stock is prepared with raw bones and vegetables. When meat, poultry, or seafood is used in the preparation the stock then becomes a broth. As with many things in life, there are exceptions to these rules. These flavorful liquids can fall anywhere along the spectrum between a light and delicate stock to a dark and rich broth.

There are many classic ways to layer flavor into a stock or broth including a bouquet garni, sachet d’épices, oignon brûlé, mirepoix, or varying degrees of roux. Although it is important to pay homage to these classic forms a flavor, the ways in which a broth can be flavored has become as unique as the chef that created it. Restaurant concepts from coast to coast have shown just how far the boundaries of broth flavor, garnish, and preparation can be pushed.

There has been a reawakening of bone broths New York, as was evident at the First Annual Broth Fest held at the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan on March 14th 2015. The all-day Saturday event was sold out as broth enthusiasts flocked to the event. Broth Fest featured live music, cold beer, and a competition amongst New York City’s finest bone broth makers. Competitors included Katz’s Deli, Spur Tree, Baz Bagel & Restaurant, Bone Deep & Harmony, Belle Reve, FAME by Alex Mitow and Caracas Arepa Bar.

Katz’s Deli featured a classic matzoh – chicken broth with roots dating back to 1888. Spur Tree, a Jamaican jerk joint, served up a “fish tea broth” with with red snapper, green bananas, potatoes, scallions, garlic, salt and black pepper. FAME by Alex Mitow dished out “Sake to Me”, a Kobe beef bone broth simmered with dry sake, lemongrass, star anise, and other herbs, garnished with chive oil, chili oil and a scorched scallion. Belle Reve offered a Blackened Butter Broth featuring whipped blackened bone broth topped with chilis, herbs and a shot of whiskey.  Caracas Arepa bar made a classic Venezuelan concoction, Sancocho, made with beef bones, beef shank, carrot, cilantro, mint, name, yautia, yucca, green plantain and topped with spicy pickled chili peppers. Bone Deep & Harmony served a customizable beef broth with infused oils and vinegar accoutrements including chimichurri, thai basil oil, and kimchee juice.

After all the votes were cast, Spur Tree took home the winning “golden bowl” of broth with their fish tea broth over number two, Belle Reve’s Blackened Butter Broth. The event was well received and marked the unofficial farewell to winter with one last taste of “the world’s first comfort food”, bone broth.

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