Scenes from “Worlds of Flavor 2013” at the CIA in St. Helena
We’re talking everyone from Thomas Keller of the French Laundry to Maxime Bilet, co-author of “Modernist Cuisine” to Josep Roca of El Celler de Can Roca in Spain — all there to discuss and demonstrate how technology and travel have combined to create “Kitchens Connected,” the theme of this year’s event.
Here were some of my favorite moments of the conference:
* Nathan Myhrvold, former chief technology officer for Microsoft who wrote “Modernist Cuisine,” talking about how you shouldn’t be afraid to try things that haven’t been done before. To wit, he recounted how at dinner the night before with winemaker Gina Gallo, he proceeded to add salt to the wines she had donated, much to her horror. His reasoning — we salt almost everything else we consume, so why not wine? His conclusion: It actually worked well in the Chardonnay.
* The passionate presentation by Claus Meyer, co-founder of renowned Noma restaurant in Copenhagen, who talked about his idea to try to stem the recidivism rate among convicts by teaching them how to cook. More than that, the brash Meyer even made a bet that he could get a group of inmates to cook the equivalent of a Michelin one-star meal in less than two months. He succeeded — so well, in fact, that his cooking program is now operating in three prisons.
* Roca and his two brothers may operate a Michelin three-star modernist cuisine restaurant that was named Restaurant Magazine’s No. 1 restaurant in its world’s best list in 2013. But he and his brothers — and their staff — eat every day at the humble bar and restaurant owned by his parents.
* Chef Kimberly Tran, who prepares food for the kids in the childcare program at Google, talking refreshingly about how she wants the food to be identifiable to them so that “broccoli looks like broccoli, and isn’t smothered in cheese.” In that way, she’s managed to educate not only the kids but their parents about simple ways to prepare seasonal produce that kids will actually like to eat.