I bounced back from Ireland to the International Chefs Conference, Identità, at Vinopolis. Traditionally held in Italy, it has been held in London for two years now, and is an inspiring couple of days, with chef demonstrations, talks, tastings, and an excellent selection of Italian produce to sample. More bijoux than most food conferences, there was a clear focus on quality and excellence. When I heard about it, I couldn’t resist going along for both days so cleared my diary, and made my way.
There is so much that I could tell you about, I’ll start with some photos and highlights.
A brilliant and hilarious demo from quirky Hong Kong chef, Alvin Leung. A self taught 2* chef who cooks at his Hong Kong restaurant Bo Innovation, Alvin cooked his interpretation of the English breakfast with lotus root stuffed with bone marrow, lotus seeds and 1000 year old egg. He kicked it off with a martini and his sous chefs name was Devil. He was funny, fresh, and inspiring. I found myself laughing a lot and desperate to try his food. What a commendation!
A fantastic demonstration by Gennaro Esposito, a chef from Southern Italy where he cooks at his 2* restaurant La Torre del Saracino. He presented a dish cooked with a new shape pasta that he designed with Pastificio dei Campi, deemed a grand cru pasta by Italian food magazine Gambero Rosso. Having tasted it, and already a fan, I can absolutely agree and applaud that. Gragnano, the town where the pasta comes from, is to pasta what Parma is to ham. With perfect bite and body, it really puts other pastas to shame. If a pasta could feel shame, of course. I feel shame for bad pasta!
Meeting Gennaro Esposito after his demonstration about the pasta and his dishes after which he insisted I try some sensational charcuterie, as you can imagine I didn’t need much persuading. The prosciutto and salami were perfection, but the lardo, well that just whisked me to another place, far from London and Vinopolis. Slippery with a grip, rich as foie gras, and delicately flavoured with herbs. Gorgeous stuff.
A Grana Padano cheese and wine matching where three vintages of Grana Padano cheese wre matched with several wines. It was the first time I had tried a 27 month old Grana Padano and loved it’s crystalline crunch and rich flavour. The wines were excellent too, especially an outstanding Amarone.
A demo from Jason Atherton and he announced his new restaurant that will open in Mayfair later in the year – name TBC.
Meeting people from Slow Food Italy, trying the food, speaking to the chefs and learning so much – more on that soon, it’s a post in itself.
Crazy cresses, micro herbs and numbing buds. More on that soon too!