Chefs had fun, too.
Marcus Samuelsson, Scott Conant, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Aaron Sanchez pictured.
Charles' Country Fried Chicken
Charles' Country Fried Chicken served a traditional soul food sampler, with Charles' signature chicken.
Co-Founder and host Marcus Samuelsson
Chef Marcus Samuelsson greeted guests arriving for the Harlem Stroll.
Sylvia's
Chicken and waffle, appetizer style, from Sylvia's.
Spring pea soup
Sweet spring pea soup by the Sylvia Center was one of the most memorable bites.
Co-host Bill Clinton
President Clinton poses with workers on his way out from the Harlem Stroll.
The Stroll
Part of Morningside Park was converted into the Harlem Stroll for two days.
Jerk Chicken, British Virgin Islands Style
Jerk chicken with sweet potato puree, promoting Caribbean travel.
Shaved asparagus salad
The Grange served an asparagus and prosciutto salad.
Texas beer Shiner Bock
Apparently Shiner Bock is popular in Harlem.
Crowds around chefs
The stars were out, and accessible at the Harlem Stroll.
Chefs had fun, too.
Marcus Samuelsson, Scott Conant, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Aaron Sanchez pictured.
Chefs had fun, too.
Marcus Samuelsson, Scott Conant, Al...
Charles' Country Fried Chicken
Charles' Country Fried Chicken served a traditional soul food sampler, with Charles' signature chicken.
Charles' Country Frie
Charles' Country Fried Chicken serv...
Co-Founder and host Marcus Samuelsson
Chef Marcus Samuelsson greeted guests arriving for the Harlem Stroll.
Co-Founder and host M
Chef Marcus Samuelsson greeted gues...
Sylvia's
Chicken and waffle, appetizer style, from Sylvia's.
Sylvia's
Chicken and waffle, appetizer style...
Spring pea soup
Sweet spring pea soup by the Sylvia Center was one of the most memorable bites.
Spring pea soup
Sweet spring pea soup by the Sylvia...
Co-host Bill Clinton
President Clinton poses with workers on his way out from the Harlem Stroll.
Co-host Bill Clinton
President Clinton poses with worker...
The Stroll
Part of Morningside Park was converted into the Harlem Stroll for two days.
The Stroll
Part of Morningside Park was conver...
Jerk Chicken, British Virgin Islands Style
Jerk chicken with sweet potato puree, promoting Caribbean travel.
Jerk Chicken, British
Jerk chicken with sweet potato pure...
Shaved asparagus salad
The Grange served an asparagus and prosciutto salad.
Shaved asparagus sala
The Grange served an asparagus and ...
Texas beer Shiner Bock
Apparently Shiner Bock is popular in Harlem.
Texas beer Shiner Boc
Apparently Shiner Bock is popular i...
Crowds around chefs
The stars were out, and accessible at the Harlem Stroll.
Crowds around chefs
The stars were out, and accessible ...

First attempts to produce major festivals rarely go this well. The inaugural Harlem Eat Up proved what is possible when committed chefs and the community come together and invest professional resources — and lots of their own time to make a big event happen.

Harlem Eat Up is a four-day series of special meals, workshops, chef talks, and tastings celebrating the renaissance of culinary arts in Harlem. In the years since Marcus Samuelsson opened Red Rooster on Malcolm X Boulevard near 125th Street, a long list of restaurants have followed.

The centerpiece, called the Harlem Stroll, consisted of tasting events on both weekend afternoons. Some of Harlem’s top-rated restaurants offered samples, along with dozens of beer and wine samples.

On the demonstration stage, chef Aaron Sanchez joked that he learned about herbs in Morningside Park when he was a teenager in the neighborhood. A lot has changed In those 20 or so years, including that Sanchez is a Food Network star, co-owner with John Besh of Johnny Sanchez in New Orleans and Baltimore, and chef/partner of Paloma, in Stamford, Ct.

Marcus Samuelsson and Aaron Sanchez having fun at Harlem Eat Up.
Marcus Samuelsson and Aaron Sanchez having fun at Harlem Eat Up.

Fans of television food shows had plenty to satisfy their cravings. Throughout the afternoon, some of the most familiar faces from television kitchens were visible and accessible. Daniel Bouloud walked around, while Scott Conant and Alex Guarnaschelli were part of the peanut gallery as Sanchez performed a cooking demonstration emceed by Samuelsson.

“Why does it always have to be white beans,” declared Samuelsson as Sanchez pureed beans with fish to make a version of brandade. The two bantered back and forth with good-natured jokes about each other’s ethnic and culinary background, but they saved their biggest barbs for chefs who weren’t there. Clearly, it was all in good fun.

Next year likely will be even better, but this was a fabulous start.

 

This video about a vegetarian’s first encounter with excellent meat by Takepart.com has it all: a great story, beautiful photography of food, and chefs explaining why they do what they do. The story is about a skilled chef and his mate, who is an experienced restaurant manager and has been vegetarian since childhood. They visit the new, hot, exciting barbecue restaurant in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles, Barrel and Ashes, where Katie discovers what fabulous barbecue tastes like. And, her partner loved the vegetables. It’s fun to watch:

Barrel and Ashes also sounds like a “must” for my next visit to the Los Angeles area. Run by a chef who cooked at the French Laundry and Bouchon, two of Thomas Keller’s restaurants, it has all the ingredients for a top quality yet home style place. The pictures alone are rather enticing.

Smoked meats at Barrel and Ashes, a new haute barbecue restaurant in Studio City, Calif.
Smoked meats at Barrel and Ashes, a new haute barbecue restaurant in Studio City, Calif.

Barrel & Ashes on Urbanspoon

Blogger Mike Wangbickler in action at IFBC 2014.
Blogger and wine pro Mike Wangbickler delights upon learning of a new gluten-free oat crisp from Raincoast Crisps.

This weekend is the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle. It’s hard to think of a more food-obsessed city, so this will be a weekend of discovery. New commercial products, inventive chef creations, and a chance to explore the food scene of the Northwest. Here are a couple of images from the first few hours.

In addition to tasting plenty of interesting food (it’s ok for you to be jealous,) there’s real work here, and real learning. One excellent session earlier today focused on food photography, specifically how to break out of the cliche pictures that so many of us take.

One of Seattle’s top chefs, Thierry Rautureau (thechefinthehat.com) of Loulay restaurant, demonstrated how to make a simple fresh tomato soup with just a few ingredients pureed in a blender. He suggests freezing the puree in bags, then defrost and puree again with olive oil right before serving.

An emerging theme of the conference is the promotion of vegetables to center stage instead of side dish. Food writer Karen Page told the bloggers that people around the world – and especially in industrialized countries like the United States – are catching on to the idea that vegetables hold the flavors that makes dishes exciting. Chef Thierry favors brining vegetables to add spice to Thanksgiving dinner, or lightly pickling celery sticks to make the crunchy bites a bit more interesting.

Advice from the French chef: Don’t freeze squash. “Zucchini is  great vegetable to shred and put it right on a grill, but if you freeze it, you have a mushy blah thing,” says Rautureau.

Beef slider
Duck confit sliders were passed around at the start of a cooking demo by Seattle Chef Thierry Rautureau.
Fresh cold tomato soup
Chef Thierry Rautureau demonstrated making fresh tomato soup.
Chef Thierry Rautureau
French-born Chef Thierry Rautureau led a colorful cooking demo at IFBC 2014.