More than 300 chefs and members of the culinary community gathered in New Orleans, Oct. 23-25, for the Chefs Collaborative third Annual National Summit. The Collaborative, a national network of chefs devoted to changing the sustainable food landscape, was founded in 1993. The organization galvanizes and educates culinary professionals, from farmers and fishers to chefs and writers, on issues where food and sustainability intersect. Summit attendees fully embraced the conference theme of “Hands on New Orleans – Sustainability in Action” with four butchery workshops and demos, charcuterie and classic cocktail workshops, and numerous conversations and practical workshops on timely topics including grass-fed beef, Gulf seafood, dead zones, farm worker justice, and climate change.
Chef Stefanelli writes: "I arrived in New Orleans on Saturday the 21st to experience the city and have an opportunity to dine at a restaurant. My destination to eat dinner was at Herbsaint, Donald Link’s flagship restaurant of his growing restaurant empire. http://www.herbsaint.com/ My dinner consisted of a mackerel crudo with mustard frills, toasted almond and lemon; salad of local mustard greens with buttermilk dressing and country ham; chicken rillette with mustard seed relish and bacon broth; braised lamb neck with butterbeans; and a caramelized banana tart - a very promising start to my visit.
"Sunday morning found me at Lüke Restaurant; one of Chef John Besh’s ventures. http://www.lukeneworleans.com/ I was fortunate to meet Chef Besh as he was having breakfast with his two sons. That evening the opening reception for the conference was held at NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts). We were treated to Louisiana oysters from Sal and Al Sunseiri of P and J Oysters of New Orleans, food from the NOCCA high school culinary students, drinks, and a lot of conversations. A brief overview of the conference was presented as well as a presentation on the value of menhaden to our natural fisheries resources survival.
"Monday’s conference kicked off with an introduction from Chef Michael Leviton, Board Chair and owner of Lumiere in Boston followed by a presentation by Dana Cowin, Editor and Chief of FOOD & WINE magazine. The individual breakout sessions started at various locations in proximity to the conference. I attended “Shepherd to the Chef” at Cochon, another of Donald link's restaurants. Presentations were given by the American Lamb Association and Craig Rodgers from Border Springs Farm. Donald Link and Ryan Prewitt demonstrated whole lamb butchery and presented a detailed description of how they process and serve the various cuts.
"The Monday afternoon session was moderated by John T. Edge, Director of The Southern Foodways Alliance, titled “The New Pantry of the South.” This discussion was presented by Glenn Roberts of Anson Mills, Kurt Unkel of Cajun Grains, and Chef Sean Brock of Husk and McCrady's. Discussion revolved around the indigenous grains and rice being grown in the South and how to utilize them, as well as other sustainability issues involving farming and our current state of affairs in food supplies.
"The centerpiece of this year’s National Summit was the Sustainability Awards dinner at the Riverview Room held on Saturday night featuring Mistress of Ceremonies, Poppy Tooker; guest speaker, author Jessica Harris; and a dinner prepared by Chef Adolfo Garcia of Rio Mar and a team of some of the Crescent City’s best chefs. The 2011 Sustainability Award winners, chosen by a panel of their esteemed culinary peers, are:
- Chef Sam Hayward of Fore Street in Portland, Maine,was honored with the “Sustainer of The Year” award, which recognizes a chef who has been both a great mentor and a model to the culinary community through his purchases of seasonal, sustainable ingredients and the transformation of these ingredients into delicious food. - Fedele Bauccio, founder and CEO of Bon Appétit Management Company (BAMCO) in Palo Alto, Calif., received the “Pathfinder Award,” which recognizes a visionary working in the greater food community who has been a catalyst for positive change within the food system through efforts that go beyond the kitchen. - Sal and Al Sunseri of P & J Oysters in New Orleans. Sal and Al Sunseri received the “Foodshed Champion Award,” which recognizes a food producer (farmer, fisher or artisanal producer) committed to working with chefs who also exemplifies the following principle: Good food begins with unpolluted air, land, and water, environmentally sustainable farming and fishing, and humane animal husbandry. “No institution has played a larger role in the advancement of south Louisiana's oyster industry than New Orleans' P&J Oyster Company, the oldest business of its kind in the United States,” said Kogut. “Since the oil spill, many are worried about the long-term sustainability of this important Louisiana business. P & J Oysters is working with amazing energy to ensure Louisiana oysters have a future."