Taste Talks 2015!

The annual festival exploring "the future of taste" was back in Brooklyn this weekend! Food industry leaders, startups, writers, chefs and food enthusiasts alike gathered at various locations in Williamsburg at the Wythe Hotel, Collossal Media, Kinfold 90 & Kinfolk 94 for this year's Taste Talks. It was a weekend filled with panels like Female Voices in Food, Preserving NYC Food Traditions, Sustainability and the Sea, Staying Relevant; demos on grits and seasonal cocktails; tastings to Become an Amateur Sommelier, Brooklyn's Craft Beer; and of course the All-Star BBQ and Future of Food Expo. Here are my brief highlights:

Taste Talks kicked off the weekend Friday night with an intimate rooftop party at McCarren Hotel with a set by Questlove and desserts by Dominque Ansel! What a great start! Saturday was all about the conference full of panel discussions, demos and workshops. But you couldn't start without stopping by the ultimate Chicken and Waffles Brunch with masters from Pies 'n' Thighs and topping it off with a Spicy Bloody Mary froom Tabasco (I opted for the Chipotle one--delish!)

Female Voices in Food

First up was the Female Voices in Food panel with Charlotte Druckman (author of Skirt Steak: Women Chefs on Standing the Heat & Staying in the Kitchen), Adam Rapoport (Bon Appetit), Helen Rosner (Eater) and Kenzi Wilbur (Food 52)--all leaders in the world of food writing, coming to discuss the "female voice" in food. The main discussion centered around unpacking the idea that the "female voice" in food has a domestic tone, that is often poetic, romantic and delicate, while the "male voice" is often "Gonzo" style, voicey and bombastic. Yet the reality of the scope of food writing is much more nuanced. For one thing, there are three voices within a piece: the writer, the "brand" voice of the publication and the audience. Depending on the publication, the brand voice may be predominant or the writer's voice may be predominant.

Again does that mean there is a distinct "female voice?" After leaving this panel, my answer is yes and no. Yes, in the sense that a female writer may choose to writeI in a way that tells the reader it is a woman writing the piece. But also no, because at the end of the day good writing is good writing, whether it comes from a man or a woman. Editors at Bon Appetit, Eater and Food 52 ultimately want a good piece that is written well, tells a story and just happens to include food. If it comes from a woman, great. We always need more women cultivating their own distinct voices in media, and especially in food. But the notion that writing about food is a female, domestic thing is a bit dated. There are so many different female voices speaking on the topic of food, whether it is the history of a family recipe or a profile on the next big chef. Women are here to speak about food, so let's listen.

The Future of Food Expo

Once again Taste Talks showcases "what's next" in food! Here are some I'm looking forward to hearing from in the future:

  • Raaka Chocolate--The organic, small-batch, bean-to-bar chocolate maker is all about "virgin chocolate." Yup, you heard right, virgin chocolate! The unadulterated, pure flavor of unroasted cacao. Offering a variety of flavors, you can taste notes of citrus, caramel, vanilla and smoke in some. I was all about the dark with sea salt and the bourbon cask aged! They are also based right here in NYC--in Red Hook, Brooklyn!

  • Love Beets--You heard right, beets are making a come back! I've always been about the beets--they are great for your liver, blood circulation and offer antioxidants! What's not to love! Love Beets not only offer delicous, organic beets--although I absolutely loved the marinated beets in white wine! They've got cooked beets, snack beets, beet bars and juices! FYI the original beet juice, is so naturally sweet, you'll think they've added sugar in it!

  • Foragers--Foragers has been in Brooklyn since 2005, operating a neighborhood market, then expanding to a market, restaurant and wine shop in Manhattan, filled with products and produced foraged near their farm in upstate New York. I had a chance to taste the gazpacho, simply blended with heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, red pepper, jalapeno and basil. I am definitely booking a a reservation soon at Foragers Tables in Chelsea!

  • Farmigo--An interesting start-up connecting neighborhoods to local farmers (within 250 mi of NYC). Similar to Fresh Direct and Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), you can choose your nearest pick-up location and choose the fresh produce or products from local farmers, but still know a large portion is going back to the farmers.

Definitely a great weekend filled with thrilling discussions and bites about the Future of Food! Can't wait for the next Taste Talks!


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