Culinary experts gather in Manchester

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(Host) Hundreds of culinary experts and restaurateurs are in Manchester this week, including some of the nation’s top chefs.

They’re gathered at the Equinox Hotel for a four day symposium on Food, wine and spirits.

VPR’s Susan Keese paid a visit.

(Cutlery sound, wine pours, glass chimes)
(Voices) “…hmm the roso and that mushroom are really beautiful. The iron horse is incredible with cleansing and the sweetness of the lentils and the banana ketchup . Yum!”

(Keese) The big news at this seminar is that vegetarian cooking has entered the realm of haute cuisine. And restaurateurs need to learn the art and science of pairing wine with something other than chicken or red meat. The session, one of fifty at the four-day symposium, is titled “The Taming of the Shroom.”

(Weiss) “…Whether it be the earthiness of mushrooms, whether it be the bitterness of eggplant or the brightness of tomatoes, we try to either compliment those flavors or contrast those flavors.”

(Keese) Michael Weiss is a professor of wines and spirits at the American Culinary Institute. He’s teaching this class with Chef Ric Orlando. He hosts a cooking show on Public television. He also feature special vegetarian wine dinners at his restaurant in the Hudson Valley.

(Orlando) “Because we’re convinced that for every dish, there is a wine, but it takes a little time, and very hard work, to taste all those wines.”

(Keese) In the interest of scientific research, each of the attendees has a plate and a dozen wine glasses arrayed on a little table.

While Weiss enthuses about the palette cleansing properties of bubbles in sparkling wines, they taste and sip, even though it is an hour before lunch.

(Vaughn) “One thing about restaurant people is they work very hard and they love to play when they get a minute.”

(Keese) Mark Vaughn is the co-founder of Sante, a magazine for restaurant professionals that’s published out of Bennington.

Vaughn says he’s been planning this “insiders only” gathering for years. He hopes it becomes an annual event.

Seminars range from business planning to handling restaurant critics to the mysteries of chocolate. The participants also learn from talking with each other.

Lunches and dinners are being prepared by celebrated guest chefs.

Achilles Pollivieu is the executive sous chef at the New York Marriot Marquis. Over lunch he says the experience is well worth the $1,100 registration fee.

(Pollivieau) “Absoluteley. It’s things like this that excel you to the next level. And we are humbled by the experience, not only to be here, but to meet our fellow colleagues in the industry.”

(Keese) “And the food?”
(Pollivieu and companion) “Fantastic.” “Outstanding! Outstanding and well worth the wait!”

(Keese) For Vermont Public radio, I’m Susan Keese.

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