As in past years, this year’s Atlanta Food & Wine Festival featured a series of weekend classes taught by a mix of chefs, beverage experts, industry pros, personalities, and authors. I caught a few, but my favorite was Saturday’s "What I Learned: Spain & Italy" session, presented by the charismatic Lee Brothers.
The session featured three Southern chefs — Katie Button of Asheville N.C.’s Cúrate, Brandon McGlamery of Winter Park, Fla.’s Luma on Park, and Tandy Wilson of Nashville, Tenn.’s City House — for a presentation their most inspirational travel experiences. While describing what they had learned, each chef presented a dish that exemplified the given trip’s influence on their work.
Out of the three, the most interesting was chef Button’s discussion of her time at the infamous elBulli in Spain. There is significant evidence of the landmark restaurant’s techniques throughout many of her menus. For a brief demo, though, she chose to present a quick dessert technique that she learned at elBulli that utilizes an edible and water-soluble potato paper from Japan to sculpt (in her case, at least) chocolate desserts. After spreading the paper across pans, Button completed a series of steps that allowed her to sculpt a 12-inch tall chocolate "handkerchief" garnished with salt, hazelnuts, and freeze-dried raspberries.
The talented McGlamery and Wilson both discussed inspirations from their travels in Italy. Chef McGlamery served a veal pancetta dish and chef Wilson shared a simple cauliflower ragù.