Let me just get this outta the way. From what I’ve seen and who I’ve met, despite their celebrity status, the chefs at the IHA show at McCormick Place in Chicago were a.) really down to earth, and b.) really good chefs. Morimoto transformed a daikon into paper thin pasta sheets with just a knife by peeling and turning. Todd English can chop an onion faster than I’ve ever seen, with precision and calm I can’t imagine possible in front of a good 300+ people.
The real part of the show was the exhibitors and buyers walking around. Of course big names were there, KitchenAid, Wusthof, Pyrex, Lodge, Le Creuset (new colors are black and white, and they look nicer than it sounds, I promise). These booths looked like they could cost between 3,000 and 40,000 dollars, it was all pretty impressive.
This was also the first year restaurants were allowed booths, which was cool. Buca Di Beppo, Goose Island, and Lettuce Entertain You were there. I’ll write an entirely separate post for it, but I was given free beer wooden nickels to Goose Island plus a bag of potato chips (ironic if you read the preview post…).
Anyway, on to the chefs, that’s all you probably care about.
MASAHARU MORIMOTO is a goddamn ninja. He was sneaking around behind the counter so he could pop up when his name was announced. He also graffitied his own
poster. Awesome. The guy is pure awesome. He’s got the skills to truly be called an Iron Chef. His accent is still super thick, though he kept joking his mother was Italian because he was using so much olive oil, basil, etc. Sidenote to prove he is as awesome as I stated already: he used a Sageo, a traditional Japanese cord tied around the handle of a samurai sword, to tie back his kimono’s sleeves while he cooked. Badass.
Tyler Florence was up next at the GOHO demo area. Tyler is full of energy, and quite a good host. The guy’s got charm, some mad cooking skills, and a hell of a personality. He musta asked if what he was cooking looked nice or beautiful six times, and I musta said yes out loud every time. No wonder every woman in the showroom was lined up to get his autograph (even my mom).
Also, he gets badass points for wearing what I believe was an IWC Big Pilot watch. Super nice guy, we talked for like 5 minutes while he was signing my moms book. Speaking of it, his new book is pretty awesome. If you are new to cookbooks and wanna start off simple, it’s a great choice. That’s not to say the recipes aren’t challenging, but he spends a good first quarter of the book going over kitchen basics and technique, in one of the most illustrated and well designed manners I’ve seen. If you look at our What We Read page, you’ll see I’ve read a fair share of cookbooks now.
Todd English is a goofy man. He was on People’s 50 Most Beautiful People list in 2001, his Olives restaurants are super successful (my mom was raving about the one at the Belagio non-stop), and he’s likes to play with monkfish whenever possible. He let me smell it too. It was nice, like the ocean. He was giving out 100 free books to the first people in line after his presentation. The line was ridiculous so we gave up. Oh well. Also, English kept hocking his Home Shopping Network line of pots and pans. They actually sound good, even though he kept namedropping the brand, half sarcastic/half because I’m sure they send him a nice check.
Final note, the Wusthof booth was outta this world and beautiful. It seems they came out with a new knife. Looks pretty cool, though I personally don’t like serrated edge blades as much as the regular straight edge. I bet it’s useful, it just seems harder to hone and keep sharp.
On a slightly related note, I picked up a Shun catalog from the Kai booth, and dear god those knifes are pretty. I’d be interested in a personal steak knife one day.
So much more happened at the show, and I was only there one day. If you ever get a chance to learn more about an industry that’s this interesting, take it. Despite my feet killing me, I got free beers at Goose Island afterwards, and the best burger I’ve had in years. Hint, it had duck rillette on top of it., which is twice cooked duck paste aka candy, in addition to carmelized onions and a mild blue cheese. Deadly in the best way possible.