My first time at Taste Talks (@TasteTalks) proved to be the right year for my inaugural visit. Was it the weather? Nah. The company? Possibly. The location? Could be. The participants? Of course. The information? Knowledge is power! The food? And you know this!
I was invited to Saturday and Sunday’s events in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to investigate the latest trends in food through demonstrations, talks, expos and, of course, eating. I started with the expo. There, vendors big and small showcased their wares in the colorful warehouse off Wythe Street.
In the pole position nearest the door was sponsor Kellogg’s (@KelloggsUS) showcasing a new way to approach their portfolio of cereals by inviting participating chefs to create a unique signature bowl using one of their brands. I tried chef Russell Jackson’s (@ChefRJackson) bowl featuring Special K with peanut butter powder, blackberry jam, maple syrup, bacon and milk. I know it sounds like an Elvis breakfast heart attack, but it was a pleasant surprise.
The expo housed a couple of awesome food finds such as organic Raaka Chocolate (@RaakaChocolate) featuring flavors such as ghost pepper, bourbon, lapsang chai, coconut milk and maple; True Made Foods’ (@TrueFoodsInc) seemingly traditional barbecue sauce and ketchup, though it was made with 20 percent vegetables (spinach, carrot, squash, tomato); and the awesome flavor of Hope Hummus (@HopeHummus), which uses high pressure processing to pasteurize their product instead of using heat like most hummus brands. All of their flavors, including their dark chocolate (tastes better than it sounds), are way good and not over processed for texture to resemble more of what you might make at home.
In the tech and new product space, Caremometer and the app Ingredient 1 (@Ingredient1) showed entrepreneurial promise. Caremometer aims to address the problem of cross contamination chefs face when using a meat thermometer that lives in a hard-to-clean sheath. The answer is a hinged tube that can be opened like a book for thorough cleaning. Ingredient 1 helps those with food allergies, dietary restrictions and just picky eaters weed out the foods with their ingredient nemeses, thereby providing a carefree list of approved foods. Gluten, sugar, soy, nuts and cilantro, look out! Ingredient 1 is coming for you!
I was sad to miss Root & Bones demo “Grits, Grits, Grits” because they make a mean shrimp and grits. However, the “Become an Amateur Sommelier” panel, led by Master Sommelier Michael Jordan, proved to be very informative as to the rigors sommelier candidates face during testing and the techniques employed when evaluating varietals … while we tasted some fine wine.
Day two found me a little beaten but thank goodness not defeated or I would have missed an epic good ass time at the “All Star BBQ,” curated by Taste Talks’ curator Questlove (@Questlove) of the Roots and “The Tonight Show.” Straight from the gate of 50 Kent St., I started rocking to the music with an “ooooh!” and an “awww shucks!” and an “oh no he didn’t!” He was killing it on the wheels. And the food—Questlove brought together great chefs such as Justin Smillie (@ChefJSmillie) of Upland, Alex Stupak (@AlexStupak) of Empellon and Russell Jackson (@ChefRJackson) with an ecclectic group of artists, farmers, musicians and purveyors. My favorite combinations were chef Michael Psilakis (@MPsilakis) of Kefi and chef Jarobi White (@JarobiWhite) of A Tribe Called Quest making pulled lamb sliders on La Brea Bakery (@LaBreaBakery) bread and Allison and Matt of Robicelli’s (@Robicellis) whipping up Fuji apple pie with none other than Mr. Sulu himself, Mr. George Takei (@GeorgeTakei).
This lineup was just a taste of what Taste Talks offered this year. I am ecstatic for my first visit and I will return over more. Great job team! See you next year.
The new “AmNewsFOOD” section is still looking for you food writers, sleuths and discoverers! Please send in writing samples (400 words or less) to AmNewsFOOD@ischop.com. Don’t miss a bite by following us on Twitter and Instagram at @NYAmNewsFOOD for all things food in and around Harlem and greater New York City, too.
Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.