what is culinolgy? over the next few days i intended to find out. Having joined the RCA [ research chefs association] a couple of months ago i am in Dallas for their annual conference. Looking at the programme it was going to be a busy few days with a number of professional development seminars and breakout sessions scheduled. The first day starts early with registration and continental breakfast whilst attendees arrive. i am immediately greeted by a number of other delegates who are instantly interested that i have travelled from the UK to understand their organisation. Over the next three days i have booked myself onto 10 sessions which include culinary communication :" bridging the flavour gap". Make room for the millenials:" product development geared to Generation Y. Trend profiling : " resetting the stage for trend forecasting, and also Student - professional speed networking . Each session has food industry professionals presenting and covering all aspects of product development, insights and trend analysis. I also attend the annual business briefing which i am hoping will explain the question posed, what is culinology?.
We are greeted by the RCA president and board members who provide the organisations activity reports and updates. A number of speakers discuss membership, scholarship programmes, and list of future activities. It becomes apparent that the RCA is a lot more than just a group of chefs, technologists, food scientists meeting up for a general discussion, it is a network of industry professionals that offer culinary and technical support, insight into the world of the consumers, issues affecting the industry from government legislation, culinology degree programmes, professional certification and workshops for chefs and techs.
As the first day of the conference comes to a close we attend the new members and student reception. This is where i get to meet some of the board members where i finally get the chance to really understand that culinology is the blending of culinary arts and food science, its about education and giving the chefs and food scientists the support they need to become professionals in their field of expertise.
we round the day off with a visit to the Nasher sculpture centre to attend the kick- off reception where some of the leading chefs of the Dallas food scene serve us tasters of some of their signature dishes such as Kobe beef meatloaf, smoked oyster veloute and Texas peach barbecued pork tenderloin with bourbon creamed corn.
After attending further sessions on Friday and a sous vide and molecular Gastronomy demonstration by Richard Blais, the culinology expo opens with over 200 trade booths with many of the suppliers who shape the industry. As the conference comes to a close on Saturday i attend the annual luncheon in which we we are served with a menu Dean Fearing, a four coarse affair including cowboy shrimp on white corn grits which was simply outstanding, this is followed by Dr pepper braised short ribs, caso fresco corn whipped potatoes and tobacco onions, the beef being succulent and tender, potatoes a perfect puree complimented by the corn and a nice smokey back note from the onions, but in true American style far to much food. The afternoon sessions are going to be hard going after such a lunch, i am beginning to get to reach the fill factor.
5pm time to attend the closing reception where ,yes you guessed it more food is served, who could possibly want more food? i ask myself especially as we have the Savor Dallas event to attend in two hours.
I arrive at the the Westin city centre plaza for the international grand tasting for an evening of food and wine from the best restaurants and chefs in town. On entering the plaza i am met with three levels of some of the best food and wine the city has to offer.
Every station that i arrive at i am met with sample tasters from each restaurant menu, i first taste a smoked salmon and pineapple soup, an interesting combination, this is quickly followed by crab, lime and mayonnaise tortilla which is a pure flavour explosion, as i move onto each tasting table the cuisine is of the highest standard that would certainly compete with some of Europe's top chefs. This is an event that you can only cope with for a couple of hours considering the amount of food i have sampled over the last few days And bearing in mind the next day brings on more delicacies of Texas.