In 2006, The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone hosted its annual Worlds of Flavor® International Conference & Festival. This year, the subject was Spain.
The Culinary Institute of America’s annual Worlds of Flavor® International Conference & Festival is widely acknowledged as our country’s premier forum on world cuisines and culinary flavor trends for foodservice, beverage, and hospitality industry professionals.
Over the years, the program has become a “must attend” for leading chefs, corporate menu decision-makers, foodservice management executives, suppliers, journalists and other professionals—and always sells out many months in advance. The gathering is the college’s annual flagship conference and every November literally transforms the Napa Valley campus into an amazing crossroads of world food and culture.
At a time when Spain could arguably claim to be the hot culinary destination in Europe—and Spanish foods and wines were increasingly finding a place at the American table—Americans are still only beginning to grasp the depth and breadth of these flavors and traditions, both as they exist in Spain and as they have mixed with other cultures around the world.
SPAIN AND THE WORLD TABLE: Regional Traditions, Invention and Exchange brought together a conference faculty of more than 50 top chefs, food writers, winemakers, food producers and other experts from Spain, countries that have been influenced by Spain, and from across the United States. This prestigious guest conference faculty led seminars, conducted tastings and demonstrations, collaborated on special meals, and participated in the colorful World Marketplace held in Greystone’s historic 15,000 square foot Barrel Room.
Ferran Adría and José Andrés at the 2006 Conference (1 of 2 Flash videos, 10:06)
The conference program reflected the interplay of three broad themes:
Regional Traditions: The conference explored the best of regional Spain, from Catalonia and the Basque Country to Galicia and from Valencia and Madrid to Andalusia. From regional wines and mountain cheeses to olive oils, piquillo peppers, Serrano ham and a host of other artisanal food products, conference attendees considered the elements of quality and style of Spanish food and wine traditions. The teachers were food experts, writers, and a number of Spain’s top chefs who continue to be inspired by regional traditions and the possibilities for adaptation.
Invention: As well as honoring the timeless traditions of Spain, the 2006 Worlds of Flavor Conference celebrated the frontiers of flavor and technique being cooked up in Spain’s most creative kitchens. In some cases breaking the boundaries of regional Spanish cooking—and in other cases shattering our ideas of what cooking can be about in any world context—this culinary movement is firing up the imagination of chefs throughout Spain, Europe and the Americas, and many of the best of them were there to share the excitement.
Attendees tasted their way through exciting innovations in the Spanish wine sector, and saw why top critics are calling Spanish wine the "next big thing." Top Spanish winemakers were on hand to share their vision of what to expect in the years ahead from the top vineyards of Spain.
Ferran Adría and José Andrés at the 2006 Conference (2 of 2 Flash videos, 11:19)
Exchange: From the Columbian Exchange that began at the end of the 15th century to the present day, Spain has contributed mightily to the world table. In this part of the conference, broad strokes of this exchange were reviewed, as well as the legacy of the exchange—and where this heritage is likely to take us in the future—in menus from Mexico City and Lima, Peru to a host of American cities from Miami to Los Angeles.
Presenters and attendees considered the impact of the exchange between the foods and traditions of Spain and those of the rest of the ancient and modern Mediterranean—and the role that this exchange played in creating what we know today as the healthful Mediterranean diet.
But above all else, Spain and the World Table: Regional Traditions, Invention and Exchange, was about a gathering of world-class talent—talent that gave attending American chefs, foodservice operators and beverage professionals an unparalleled immersion into the exciting and complex world of Spanish and Spanish-influenced food, wine and cooking.