Time has been more of a luxury lately as we've hit season and other projects all happening at once. My reading list is getting bigger, and I'm only knocking little dents into it.
Some of these are new: "Neurogastronomy" by Gordon Shepherd and "The Kitchen as Laboratory" by Cesar Vega, Job Ubbink, and Erik Van der Lindin (any many great contributors) are the latest issues from Columbia Press. I love the selection of food themed subjects coming from these publishers. I'm trying to work in "But The Crackling Is Superb" by the Kurtis which I've never took the time to read through. Chef K prompted me to pick up the "PDT Cocktail Book" which is getting harder to find for a low price and will be a great reference for years. Two books that I am trying to revisit are "The Bread Builders" with Allan Scott and "Mastering the Craft of Smoking Food" by Warren R. Anderson. Both of these are to keep me primed and focused on building a wood-burning brick oven in my backyard.
When Chef K and I went to Houston recently to demonstrate modern techniques to a group of Sysco Regional Chefs at the company's main headquarters, we were met with a lot of genuine interest and curiosity from the group. One of the surprising questions (for me at least) was where can a chef find information on modern cuisine techniques and ingredients. It's surprising because it's hard to turn anywhere in the food world without having modern cuisine blurbs smacking you in the face. A few years back, there were very few sources to find actual hard-core information. It was mostly a lot of little pieces here and there, and a lot of simply throwing things together to see what would happen then document the results. These days, there are actual textbook style epitomes on these techniques and it's just a matter of following directions. We did meet a lot of good people at the demo, and hopefully planted the seeds to some good connections for future expeditions. Working in the Sysco test kitchen was kind of an experience (and one I had never envisioned myself doing). There was a curiosity towards us from the guys test-baking frozen pieces of Tyson chicken and counting out the contents from #10 cans. It was also interesting being in a kitchen stocked with over a million dollars of equipment, but no working blender.
The Houston savory and pastry presentation was for our friend, Randy Rubins, with Ciao Imports which represents Will Powders. We were also showcasing the chocolates of Guittard based in San Francisco... hence the title, "Learn how to play" Guittard. We did a plating of the dessert for 75 chefs before running out the door to catch our plane. A great, but short experience.