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Taste Talks Conference Chicago

The Taste Talks festivals place food in a forward-thinking light through a multi-day series of dinners, parties, a conference and a BBQ. The programs are held once a year in Brooklyn, Chicago and Los Angeles with the Taste Talks Food & Drink Awards taking place annually in Brooklyn.

The Taste Talks Conference is a one-day event open to anyone who enjoys real food talk involving the future of food. This year’s Chicago panelists included food writers, restauranteurs, chefs, mixologists, a ticketing reservation manager and guests Paul Liebrandt and Andy Ricker.

The size of the event and the venue allowed for an intimate, friendly social vibe and began with a brunch hosted by Bang Bang Pie Shop. Throughout the day there were author book signings, food and cocktail demos, panel discussions, a recipe contest and lots of free-flowing beverages which included S. Pellegrino, Acqua Panna, and Nespresso. Our gift bags included an arm reflector and a whisk.

It was not possible to attend all the discussions so I did my best to jump around between two or three different sessions per time slot. The talks were fun, serious, nostalgic, engaging and informative. The moderators kept the conversation flowing nicely and gave everyone a chance to be heard.

Photos and videos below.

Books

Books for sale and author signings Taste Talks Chicago

Books for sale and author signings at Taste Talks Chicago

The Adventures of Fat Rice

The Adventures of Fat Rice

Paul Liebrandt and Andy RIcker signings at Taste Talks Chicago

Paul Liebrandt and Andy Ricker signings at Taste Talks Chicago

Brunch

Brunch by Bang Bang Pie Shop. Oh that candied bacon!

Brunch by Bang Bang Pie Shop. Oh that candied bacon!

I made a breakfast sandwich out of the Bang Bang Pie Shop brunch items.

I made a breakfast sandwich out of the Bang Bang Pie Shop brunch items.

Schedule

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The Even Tempered Kitchen: A Shift Toward Openness and Inclusivity

Unpredictable variables create a constantly intense working restaurant environment. Only a handful of candidates apply to fill new jobs and many employees don’t stick around long-term. Screaming doesn’t work and being too gentle falls on deaf ears. Chefs struggle to find that perfect balance to positively connect with and keep staff and keep them motivated.

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Karen Shields, Iliana Regan, Michael Gebert, Alpanah Singh, Noah Sandoval

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Karen Shields, Iliana Regan, Michael Gebert, Alpanah Singh, Noah Sandoval

The Forgotten History of Chicago’s Restaurants

Everyone wants to go to the new restaurants. What does it take to keep people coming back over and over for 5, 10, 20 or 30 years?

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Matthias Merges, Tony Quartaro, Carrie Nahabedian, Penny Pollack, Jimmy Bannos, Tony Mantuano

Audience at Taste Talks The Forgotten History of Chicago's Restaurants

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Matthias Merges, Tony Quartaro, Carrie Nahabedian, Penny Pollack

Kellogg’s Cereal Bar Throwdown

Chefs Brian Jupiter, Joanna Stachon and Mike Sheerin created cereal recipes.

Kellogg's Cereal Bar Throwdown

Kellogg’s Cereal Bar Throwdown

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Rice Krispies, Marshmallow, White Chocolate, Graham Cracker Granola, Chocolate Milk by Brian Jupiter

Brian Jupiter (Frontier) for the win.

Brian Jupiter (Frontier) for the win.

Joanna Stachon. Special K, Choc Soy, Peanut Butter, Whipped Cream

Special K, Chocolate Soy Milk, Peanut Butter, Whipped Cream by Joanna Stachon (Ada Street)

The Adventures of Fat Rice Demo

The Adventures of Fat Rice Demo Abe Conlon

Abe Conlon

The Adventures of Fat Rice Demo Abe Conlon

The Adventures of Fat Rice Demo with Abe Conlon

Rum in Cocktails: A Cocktail Demo

Paul McGee talked about which rum to use for different rum drinks and what to look for when buying rum. One of the cocktails he made for the demo was a mojito.

Watch the video here.

Mojito. Rum in Cocktails: A Cocktail Demo with Paul McGee

Paul McGee

Mojito. Rum in Cocktails: A Cocktail Demo with Paul McGee

Mojito. Rum in Cocktails: A Cocktail Demo with Paul McGee

Mojito. Rum in Cocktails: A Cocktail Demo with Paul McGee

Rum in Cocktails: A Cocktail Demo

Productizing the Kitchen: How Chefs Bring Recipes Home

From chips to sauces, to cocktail mixes to rubs, various chefs shared stories about what’s involved in taking a recipe that works in a restaurant and transforming it to be distributed to stores. Packaging, shelf-life, allergies, delivery and FDA standards are some of challenges that have to be tackled when something is no longer a seasonal restaurant dish or cocktail but a consumer product.

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David Hammond, Charlie McKenna, Stephanie Izard, Matt Lindner

White Tablecloth Revolution: The Rise of ‘Upscale Casual’

Panelists talked about what they think caused the massive growth in serving fine dining food in a casual setting.

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Belinda Chang, Dawn Brus, Kevin Boehm, Gregg Horan, Maggie Hennessy

New Models for Economic Change: How to Fix the Broken System

Tipping, minimum wage, overtime, new hires, and off-the clock side work were some of the topics discussed. This was a heavy, deep discussion that needed a lot more time and involvement.

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Nick Kindelsperger, Andy Ricker, Beverly Kim, Jason Hammel

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Nick Kindelsperger, Andy Ricker, Beverly Kim

How Restaurants Reshape Neighborhoods

What were restaurant’s neighborhoods like when they opened compared to today? What makes a restaurant a destination spot and is there a magic formula?

How Restaurants Reshape NeighborhoodsJohn Clark, John Manion, Jason Hammel,

John Clark, John Manion, Jason Hammel,

The Story and Emotion of Ingredients

Paul Liebrandt gives insight on how he created some of his dishes and filled us in on some fun consulting projects he’s been working on.

The Story and Emotion of IngredientsPaul Liebrandt, Louisa Chu

Paul Liebrandt, Louisa Chu

The Story and Emotion of IngredientsPaul Liebrandt, Louisa Chu

Paul Liebrandt, Louisa Chu

Taste Talk Conference Highlights

Click here to see various 10-second clips I took for Instagram Stories. Sorry about the vertical format, I know it’s a no-no. but here are some conference highlights for your viewing pleasure.

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