Tuesday, October 6

Taste Talks 2015

Taste Talks
Taste Talks 2015
The 2nd Annual Taste Talks Chicago took place this past weekend and it was a fabulous series of events. I had a blast last year at the inaugural fest which also takes place in Brooklyn each year. Curated by Chef Paul Kahan, the three-day fest explores all things food with the help of food writers and critics, chefs, bakers, brew masters and more. The weekend featured panel discussions, underground dinners, and an All-Star BBQ featuring some of the best local and national chefs.

Below are some highlights from the festival!

On Saturday, Taste Talks partnered with Kellogg’s to present the custom-built Kellogg’s Cereal Bar, where attendees sampled original cereal creations from celebrity chefs and judged their new creations in a live Kellogg’s Cereal Bar Throwdown competition. 

Taste Talks
Kellogg's Cereal Bar Menu
Taste Talks
Baklava For Breakfast
The three chefs competing in the cereal throwdown included Kristina Mack of Broken Tart, Mathew Rice of The Publican, and Jessica Koslow of Sqirl La. Each chef had five minutes to create their own cereal concoction using a Kellogg's cereal as a base, and several secret ingredients presented to them.

Taste Talks
Kristina Mack, Mathew Rice, Jessica Koslow
Taste Talks
Kellogg's Cereal Bar Throwdown
Taste Talks
Secret Ingredients
 I was lucky enough to be one of the judges and got to sample the three cereal creations.

Taste Talks
Throwdown Judges
We judged each cereal creation on creativity, taste, and appearance.

Taste Talks
Cereal Score Card
Ultimately Jessica Koslow won with her Special K cereal creation which included peaches, mozzarella, mint, and corn-infused milk. It might sound interesting, but it really was delicious. She took a risk but it paid off!

Publican Quality Meats (PQM) hosted a toast bar featuring several of their housemade breads with a variety of toppings including chicken liver pate, pickled shallots and jam, as well as toast with chevre, apples, and dill. 

Taste Talks
PQM Toast Bar
I popped into the Best of Between Bites talk where several industry folks, including Molly Each, Ina Pinkney, Kevin Boehm, and Chandra Ram, told stories about their various experiences in the food industry. All of them were such engaging storytellers!

Taste Talks
Chandra Ram at Taste Talks
Taste Talks
Molly Each at Taste Talks
On Sunday, the All-Star BBQ took place in Palmer Square Park in Logan Square. Twelve top chefs from across the country created their best BBQ creations! Chefs included Paul Kahan, Fergus Henderson, Jessica Koslow, Sarah Grueneberg, Abe Conlon, Tony Quartaro, Matt Danko, Matthias Merges, Nicole Pederson, Paul McGee and more.

It was a crisp fall day with amazing eats! There was a heavy focus on fall vegetables including squash, turnips, and carrots. I loved the variety of flavors each chef incorporated into their dish and it was so fun chatting with chefs at their booths.

Taste Talks
Leaf Lard Vegetables, Pan Dripping Vinaigrette, Pork Skin Crumbs
Kabocha Squash
Grilled Squash with Apple Walnut Salad
Taste Talks
Ox Heart Buns & BBQ Carrots with Creamy Herb Dressing from Paul Kahan
Abe Conlon from Fat Rice created Zhong Zi, or sticky rice dumplings with burdock root, smoked carrot, mushroom, red eye gravy, and bacon, wrapped in a banana leaf. The dumplings were hanging from a tree in the park and we had to look for one, unwrap and enjoy!

Taste Talks
Hanging Zhong Zi From Fat Rice
Taste Talks
Hanging Zhong Zi From Fat Rice
Taste Talks
Zhong Zi From Fat Rice
Nicole Pederson and Found Kitchen had a beautiful fall presentation at their booth, as well as a chickpea cake with green tomato curry.

Taste Talks
Autumn Display from Found Kitchen
Taste Talks
Chickpea Cakes with Green Tomato Curry
One of my favorite bites was Rick Gresh's grilled cauliflower with lemon-chili relish, Marcona almonds, fried sage, and Parmesan.

Taste Talks
Grilled Cauliflower, Lemon-Chili Relish, Marcona Almonds, Fried Sage, Parmesan
Jessica Koslow of Sqirl La created a playful take on the classic Chicago hot dog with a smoked carrot, fermented and pickled veggies, a carrot emulsion mustard, and housemade celery salt.

Taste Talks
Smoked Carrot Hot Dog, Fermented & Pickled Veggies, Carrot Emulsion Mustard, House Celery Salt
Until next year!

Note: I attended Taste Talks with a media pass; however, all opinions expressed herein are my own.

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