Sunday, October 5, 2014

IFBC 2014 - Fun Facts!

International Food Blogger Conference 2014 Seattle

Seattle - the land of coffee, great restaurants, Pike Place Market and the International Food Blogger Conference. I spent the weekend soaking up all IFBC2014 had to offer.

What exactly did they offer you ask? Well, let me tell you:
·        A chance to meet other fabulous food bloggers,
·        Exposure to new products and companies
·        Attend educational, informative and often once in lifetime sessions with renowned authors, CEOs, photographers, writers, chefs and industry experts
·        Delicious food
·        Exploration of a vibrant, friendly city
·        Swag – and lots of it.

Today, I’m going to share a few things I learned from my favorite sessions. And trust me it’s just a few tidbits from three of many sessions – I have a notebook full of scribbles from each one!

Photography with Todd Coleman

Todd is Creative Director of Tasting Table. He offered great photography tips that I am hoping to incorporate into my photography.  A few of his tips include:

  • Color trumps all – don’t be afraid to go bold with colors
  • Think beyond the table top – food can go anywhere
  • You don’t need super expensive equipment to take great photos – a speed light and some foil for reflecting is often all the tools you need
  • Uneven surfaces make photos interesting
  • Pushed perspective – get in close to your subject. A wide angle lens moved in close can make interesting photos
  • Line things up like soldiers – symmetry is pleasing to the eye –so the next time you are photographing cookies, or shrimp line ‘em up!
  • Make friends with shadows because they can make photos interesting! Find the light within shadows so everything is in balance.

  • “Do something unexpected.” – Todd Coleman

    Cooking demo with Theirry Rautureau aka The Chef in the Hat

    I hadn’t heard of Chef Theirry before IFBC but this Frenchman in Seattle has a long history in the Emerald city. I hear he is much like Chef Vij in Vancouver in that he loves to mingle with his restaurant guests and will even sit down for a story or two.

    At his IFBC cooking demonstration he showed us a simple tomato soup that could be served warm or cold. As he cooked he shared some great tidbits and his endearing humour. Here are a few of the things I took away with me:
    • If you have olive oil but don’t use it all the time, you should refrigerate it so it doesn’t go rancid.
    • You can pickle almost anything! He suggested pickling celery sticks! Just remember the magic ratio 3:2:1.  3 parts vinegar; 2 parts water; 1 part sugar – bring the mixture to a boil and then cool it. Once cooled, poor it over celery sticks, radishes, beets, and almost any root veggies is up for grabs! You can also add a cinnamon stick or other spice if you like. Chef Theirry said you can even pickle apples and rhubarb!
    • To dress a salad with your favorite dressing pour it on the sides of a high bowl and THEN add your lettuce and toppings. Gently mix your greens. Your dressing will be evenly dressed!

    Know your Beef, Know your Butchery: Cut Education Session

    I think I learned the most at this fact filled sessions put on by Beef Checkoff. Here are just a few tidbits.

  • There are three grades of beef in the US: Prime, Choice, Select
  • Marbling  is intramuscular fat i.e. fat within the muscle tissue.  It is also called “taste fat”.
  • Prime cuts have the most “taste fat”
  • Marbling is very important because it affects:

    • Tenderness
    • Juiciness
    • Taste/flavor
    • Marbling also acts as a bit of insurance when it comes to overcooking! If it has a high marbling percentage it will still taste great even if you over cook it a bit

  • Why are beef prices rising in the US?

    • smallest herd since the 1950s because of drought
    • things are starting to rebound but takes time
    • Want to save money? Go for less tender cuts like chuck, brisket, loin. These cuts are close to the animals limbs which means they are subject to lots of motion and thus less connective tissue. This makes them less tender. But that doesn't mean they can’t make great meals! You just have to know how to coax out their best flavour and taste. So when you cook these cuts think braising, long and slow cooking, adding moisture.
    • All beef starts on grass but are finished for their last 100-200 days on either grass or grain (which also includes some grass)
    •  Only 2-3% of the US herd is bred for sale as prime beef.

    My next post IFBC2014 will be about my favorite session: The Sur la Table/Kitchen Aid excursion  and my favorite food finds from the conference!

    Note: In order to receive the discounted active blogger rate at IFBC2014, all participating bloggers were required to write three posts about their experience at the conference. This is post #2.

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