Monday, October 5, 2015

2015 Forbes Under 30 Summit Food Festival

The Forbes Under 30 Summit highlights some of the world's top entrepreneurs and innovators. One of this year's featured speakers is Elizabeth Holmes, the CEO of the novel lab company, Theranos. She founded it at the age of 19 and Theranos is poised to dramatically change how labwork is performed. Talk about game changers! From the food perspective, Forbes announced 2015's class of 30 under 30, which includes the founder of Caviar [Jason Wang], Chef de Cuisine at Publican [Cosmo Goss], and John Lasater from famed Hattie B's, among others. The summit also features several culinary speakers including chefs Kelvin Fernandez and Aditi Malhotra, both of whom competed at this year's food festival, along with Chef Lasater. 

2015 Forbes Under 30 Summit Food Festival

The food festival was held at the Kimmel Center, on the first night of the conference. It was a great way for young entrepreneurs from the health, media, tech, and entertainment industries to socialize and mingle, all while enjoying top notch food from some of the nation's most promising young chefs.

2015 Forbes Under 30 Summit Food Festival - Chefs
Left to Right: Jason Pfeifer, Joseph "JJ" Johnson, Kelvin Fernandez, John Lasater, Jesse Schenker, Giorgio Rapicavoli, Aditi Malhotra, Christopher Coombs, Jeff Mahin.
Shortly after the start of the event, the Kimmel Center lobby became crowded with the Summit attendees. Luckily, I was able to get in early to talk to some of the chefs and sample their creative bites.

Chef Jeff Mahin | Summer House Santa Monica
Sacchetto Negro | Shellfish consomme, uni, citrus, chive, chili, squid ink, olive oil 

2015 Forbes Under 30 Summit Food Festival - Chef Jeff Mahin

Chef Mahin offered up a spoonful that successfully embodied the ocean. Nicely al dente squid ink pasta was immersed in a shellfish broth that had great depth. The heat from the chili was unexpected and lingered, but the sweetness of the uni came through.

Chef Jesse Schenker | The Gander and Recette 
"BEC" Bacon, Egg, & Cheese | Sherry caramel pork belly, circulated chicken egg, buffalo taleggio, biscuit crumble, black pepper, chives

2015 Forbes Under 30 Summit Food Festival - Chef Jesse Schenker

2014's Food Festival winner, Chef Jesse Schenker, brought forth a mix of modern and comfort in the form of a deconstructed bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit. Sherry caramel pork belly ate liked pulled pork with an unctuous richness. The circulated chicken egg and buffalo taleggio providing some additional substance to each bite. The crispy bite of the tiny biscuit provided great texture. 

Chef Christopher Coombs | Boston Urban Hospitality 
Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup | Duck confit, four cheese grilled cheese

2015 Forbes Under 30 Summit Food Festival - Chef Christopher Coombs

Chef Coombs showcased an engaging personality. Even better than his showmanship was his take on classic comfort food. A nice melange of muenster, cheddar, fontina, and Monterey Jack was sandwiched with duck confit between crisp, buttery bread. The bright acidity of the tomato soup provided the perfect countervailing element to each bite of grilled cheese. 

Chef Joseph "JJ" Johnson | The Cecil
Goat Dumpling | Peanut piri piri, micro cilantro

2015 Forbes Under 30 Summit Food Festival - Chef Joseph JJ Johnson

Harlem's undergone quite the transformation and Chef JJ is a perfect example of the progressive push. Known for his oxtail dumplings, the chef brought forth goat tonight. Not at all tough in texture, the goat was tender and moist within the delicate dumpling. The lingering heat was a nice element, with the micro cilantro adding some fresh celery-like notes.

Chef Kelvin Fernandez | La Marina
Crispy Arepa | Steak, lime-scented sour cream, creamy guacamole, pico de gallo, Cotija

2015 Forbes Under 30 Summit Food Festival - Chef Kelvin Fernandez

Kelvin Fernandez may best be known as one of the few chefs to "Beat Bobby Flay," with his tasty take on arepas. But it's his innovative takes on Latin flavors that truly brings him center-stage. The crisp sweetness from the corn-based arepa was a tasty, textural delight. A hearty portion of moist shredded steak sat atop, along with well-seasoned guacamole. Levity came in the form of line-scented sour cream. I may have come back for another, or three. 

Chef Jason Pfeifer | Maialino
Broccoli-Parmesan soup, chicken liver Reuben sandwich

2015 Forbes Under 30 Summit Food Festival - Chef Jason Pfeifer

Chef Pfeifer's broccoli-parmesan soup may have looked simple, but it belied a surprising burst of flavor. The fresh broccoli was a nice complement to the sharp hit of salty Parm. This was paired with a crisp bite of a not-too-intense chicken liver sandwich.

Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli | Glass & Vine, Eating House 
Huitlacoche Hush Puppies | Crema fresca, Cotija, smoked ancho

2015 Forbes Under 30 Summit Food Festival - Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli

One of the more interesting (and tasty!) bites of the night belonged to Chef Rapicavoli. The huitlacoche was nicely displayed in a crisp hush puppy, with a moist, earthy, creaminess within. This was accented by wonderful smoked ancho and a bracingly intense lime crema. What a burst of flavor!

Chef John Lasater | Hattie B's
Nashville Hot Chicken | Chicken roulade, pimento cheese grits, collard greens

2015 Forbes Under 30 Summit Food Festival - Chef John Lasater

Straight from famed Hattie B's, Chef Lasater's hot chicken was definitely another favorite. The juicy chicken roulade was encased by perfectly crispy chicken skin. But it's the addictive heat that's the star here. The intense mix of cayenne, chili, and paprika could not be denied and stealthily crept up on me! Even as a Korean who loves a good spicy stew, I was surprised at the beads of sweat that started to form. It wasn't enough to stop me from getting another though, especially when you've got some great collards and wonderfully textured pimento cheese grits to complement all that spice.

Chef Lasater agreed that hot chicken has really taken off over the past five years and noted that while there are plenty of other great joints (Prince's obviously comes to mind), Hattie B's is distinct in their devotion to scratch sides. In a nod to Kevin Sbraga, Lasater mentioned that he was hoping to steal away to try the Top Chef's iteration over at Fat Ham

Chef Aditi Malhotra | Tache Chocolate

2015 Forbes Under 30 Summit Food Festival - Chef Aditi Malhotra

A graduate of Glion Institute in Switzerland, pastry chef Aditi Malhotra is the CEO-founder of Tache Chocolate in NYC. She had numerous sinful, yet beautifully crafted delights on offer.

French Caramel Kiss | Apple Pie Truffles | Dark Grignotines | Beer Caramel |
Moroccan 5 Spice | Spiced Chai | Coconut & Watermelon

2015 Forbes Under 30 Summit Food Festival - Chef Aditi Malhotra

All were great, but some of my favorites included the kiss-shaped caramel, the apple pie truffle, and the coconut-watermelon! 

2015 Forbes Under 30 Summit Food Festival

There were two awards to be given out at the end of the night. The Summit attendees used an app to vote for their favorite dish. This year's People's Choice Award went to Chef Coombs and his wonderful grilled cheese and tomato soup. Forbes Editor Randall Lane and Taylor & Isaac Hanson (yes, those Hansons!) delivered the judgment for the Judge's Choice Award, which went to Chef JJ and his creative goat dumpling! Congrats to Chef JJ and Coombs on their respective wins, and to all the Chefs for providing creative tastes for some of the world's most innovative minds.

Special thanks to Skai Blue Media and Forbes for the invitation!