I’m just back from a whirlwind trip to New York for the Roger Smith Conference on Food, an evolution of a cookbook conference that a collection of food leaders, including historian Andy Smith, started a few years ago.
In tomorrow’s food section, you can read about my stop by Kitchen Arts & Letters, the renown cookbook store that helped inspire Métier, the cookbook and kitchen supply store that Jessica Maher and Todd Duplechan will open this summer next to their South Austin restaurant, Lenoir.
Before I hit the non-conference highlights of the trip, a quick recap of why I was there. Along with Newsweek’s "Gadget Lust" columnist Marissa Rothkopf Bates, Food + Tech Connect founder Danielle Gould and culinary instructor Annette Tomei, we were on a Kitchen 2.0 panel to talk about what the kitchens of the near and far future might look like, which will likely include Web-enabled refrigerators and ovens and smart scales that could determine the nutritional value of food.
The gist? We might not all have sous vide machines or 3-D food printers by the end of the decade, but you don’t have to look any farther than induction cooktops, at-home espresso machines or even a good old-fashioned dishwasher to know that Americans will embrace new kitchen technologies as long as they provide convenience without sacrificing quality.
You can watch the panel, as well as others, including a session on molecular gastronomy featuring WD-50 chef/owner Wylie Dufresne, at ustream.tv/channel/the-2014-roger-smith-foodtech-conference.
In addition to the conference, I trekked all over the city and found all kinds of fun things to share. Here are a handful of them:
Ceci-Cela: This tiny bakery at 55 Spring St. in SoHo (cecicelanyc.com) sells the lightest, most tender and nicely crusted croissants in the city. When the lines at the nearby Balthazar are too long, go here. Or go here first and just pop by the famed French bistro for a look around.
Community composting and New York apples: At the 35 Greenmarket farmers markets, New Yorkers drop off food scraps, which are then composted and sold as a soil amendment. It’s a different model than our pilot curbside composting program, and one that in just a few years has collected more than a million pounds of food. Visitors to the Big Apple might not have food scraps to drop off or much space in their carry-on for other purchases, but if you’re at a market like the flagship one on Saturdays in Union Square, at least buy some of the pristine apples from upstate, which are available almost year-round. I enjoyed Macoun apples that were infinitely better than the apples we can get most of the time here.
Edamam: Food apps, which once overwhelmed the food space, seem to have fallen off recently, but this recipe website (edamam.com) and app that allows you to compare the nutritional content of recipes, either those from your own stash or from elsewhere on the Web, appears to be building momentum.
1 Minute Meal: James Boo, whom I got to know through his free ice cream giveaways during South by Southwest, now has a gorgeous short film series called 1 Minute Meal (oneminutemealfilms.com), in which he creates mini-profiles of food and their makers around New York. He’s also overseeing a budget eating guide called Real Cheap Eats (realcheapeats.com) that lets you search for dishes under $10 each that have been recommended by a curated team of reviewers, not anyone with a username and a Yelp account.
Bites of Brooklyn: An evening in Brooklyn introduced me to King Noodle (kingnoodlebk.com, 1045 Flushing Ave.), a divey Asian fusion restaurant in Bushwick, that feels like a disco-themed East Side King with a paper umbrella’s worth of tiki and arcade thrown in. (Try the cold sesame noodles with pickled mushrooms and spicy tofu chili cheese fries.) Not feeling neon lights? Sample the more refined side of Bushwick at The Narrows (narrowsbar.com, 1037 Flushing Ave.), a cocktail bar next door.
The last thing I thought I’d find in Brooklyn was piano-forward pop rock, but that’s just what Luke Wesley (lukewesley.com) does when he’s not helming a watering hole that shall remain nameless. I’ve been listening to his songs "Wake Up" and "Unfaithful" on repeat since boarding the plane on Sunday. Look him up on Spotify or Soundcloud.