Although it's a little like taking coals to Newcastle, I just got back from Mexico City where I told our story to 500 food visionaries and thousands of culinary students. I loved every minute of it and saw most of the other presentations.
The Mexicans were very sympathetic and of course my having my lovely business partner, Yunuen, on hand didn't hurt things. We talked about how I got started with Rancho Gordo in Napa, the significance of having Thomas Keller on our side, the flavor profiles of the different varieties and finally how we came together to create the Rancho Gordo- Xoxoc Project which helps us get great beans and created new markets for heirloom varieties of new world products.
We were treated like rock stars and a fellow could get used to this kind of attention. Speaking of stars, the other presenters included Diana Kennedy, Christopher Kostow, Brooks Headley, Roberto Solis, Monica Patiño, Alex Stupak, Glora Lopez Morales, Ricardo Muñoz Zurita, Alicia Gironella De'Angeli and Alberto Adria. If any of these names are unfamiliar to you, believe me, they're food superstars and I was very lucky to present among them.
Javier Plascencia of Mision 19 in Baja is often confused with me because we are both so guapo. He happens to be an incredible chef and a good guy. He'll be cooking our beans as part of the San Francisco Street Food Festival later in the month.
Nicos restaurant has been turned into a standard of traditional Mexican cusine thanks to the ever fashionable Gerardo Vasquez Lupo. He's fun, too!
One of the highlghts for me was Daniel Ovadia (from Paxia) and staff as they asked for a better Mexico. Each employee wrote a sentence for un Mexico mejor and the poem was read as Daniel created a dish that first represented a gun and blood and was transformed by a white mole de novia, much as they wish Mexico might be transformed. It was a lofty concept but unnervingly moving.
Pal and Mushroom Maven Connie Green made us all hungry with her presentation.
How big can my head get? Just asking!
Rick Bayless, one of my heroes and I bet yours, too, presented a compelling argument about authenticity and made some delicious food as well. You could hear a pin drop during his presentation.
Yunuen was late and it was moments before the presentation so we were set up to use a translator. My Spanish is "fun" at best but right before I went on, she arrived and they mic'd us both up and shoved us on stage. We hadn't spoken since I arrived in Mexico and I guess I forgot to tell her she'd be doing the translating. What a trooper!
I have more thoughts on the conference, the presentations and the revolution in Mexican food but for now I wanted you to see these photos and say hi. I think I need to cook and relax at home after such an intense, great week.