Forbes Under 30 Food Festival

October 18, 2016
Massachusetts State House

Every year, Forbes releases its 30 Under 30 list, applauding the accomplishments of young entrepreneurs, scientists, and talents in various fields, including Arts & Style, Healthcare, Education, and Media, among others. The Under 30 Summit was held in Boston this year, and I was (and still am) incredibly honored to have been invited to the summit’s food festival at the Massachusetts State House that concluded the full weekend of speakers, performers, events, and food.

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Open to the VIP’s and press of the Under 30 Summit, the festival was a competition between the top young chefs in the world showing off their culinary skills to be named “Best Young Chef” as voted by the audience and also judged by Chrissy Teigen (model and author), Lee Schrager (founder of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival), and Randall Lane (Forbes magazine editor).

Each chef had a table to prep their bite-sized offering to the audience and judges, and they were split between two floors: five chefs were in the “Sweets” category upstairs, and eight chefs were in the “Savory” category downstairs.

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Slow poached egg with chickpeas and morcilla

Alright, let’s get started with the savory section!

Above was a Slow Poached Egg with Chickpeas and Morcilla from Jonah Miller, chef and owner of Huertas in New York. Even though it looked like a little bowl of pudding, this dish was deliciously savory, with the crunch of the fried chickpeas being so satisfying against the luscious slow poached egg.

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5 Grain Autumnal Pizza

Next, we have a 5 Grain Autumnal Focaccia Pizza from Laura Meyer, head chef and pizzaiola at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco. Beautifully risen, the focaccia’s olive oil-infused dough worked well with the stark flavor of the cranberries and other ingredients sprinkled on top.

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Next, I need to talk about this Seaweed Pie by Toni Toivanen, chef at sandlådan in Denmark. Within the seaweed crust, we had fermented yolk, and lobster brains, topped with lobster tail and wood ants.

Yes, ants. They were dead, thankfully. Due to some unfortunate childhood memories, ants creep me out more than cockroaches and spiders, and so I am amazed that I not only ate this Seaweed Pie, but that I also willed myself to eat an ant separately.

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Talking to the chefs preparing the dish, they explained that these were ants taken from the soil in their local woods, and then cleaned and prepared just for this dish. I’m not sure exactly what they did to them to accomplish this, but they had an intense citrus flavor and a strange crispy texture.

Also, in an alternate universe, I could see myself being a professional paparazzi. John Legend, husband of one of the judges, Chrissy Teigen, was present (along with a whole lot of security), and they went along from booth to booth to sample these dishes themselves. So I captured these lovely shots of the legend himself eating the seaweed pie:

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mmmmmmm ants

Anyways, the Seaweed Pie was actually pretty tasty, with a whole array of flavors — we had the slightly bitter seaweed crust, the tangy ants, and the buttery lobster all in one bite.

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Eel Kabayaki and Black Rice Puff

Next up, we have the Eel Kabayaki and Black Rice Puff by Yasuhiro Fujio, a chef at La Cime in Osaka, Japan, a two Michelin star French restaurant. This dish was delicious, and took Japanese influences (like the eel) and combined them with American qualities, like the deep-fried rice puff shell.
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And here’s a picture of me with the last two chefs I just mentioned, Yasuhiro (left) and Toni (middle)!

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Continuing onwards…

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Hot Chicken Jambonette

Here we have the Hot Chicken Jambonette with Tennessee Field Peas, Cornbread, and Chow Chow by John Lasater from Hattie B’s Hot Chicken in Nashville, Tennessee. Deliciously crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, the chicken had a spicy kick that paired well with the sides.

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And below we have the judge’s winner for “Best Young Chef,” with a Beef and Truffle Doughnut by Henry Herbert from Hobbs House Bakery in the UK.

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Beef and Truffle Doughnut

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Definitely the best donut doughnut I’ve ever had. With a subtle layer of powdered sugar around the sourdough ball, the savory beef filling worked so well with the sprinkles of truffles on top.

When I asked Henry about his inspiration for this dish, he explained that his friend just trained his dog to hunt for truffles, which is how the truffles ended up here.
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Almost at the end of our savory section! Below, we have the audience choice winner in the savory category: an Arepa Braised Beef Short Rib with guacamole, pico de gallo, and a lime-scented crema by Kelvin Fernandez from Strand Bistro @ Pulse Marriott Vacation Club in New York City.

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Arepa Braised Beef Short Rib

A bite-sized piece of perfection, it was a beautiful combination of tender pulled-apart meat atop a crunchy maize-dough base, with the hint of citrus in the crema adding a fun touch as well.


Are you exhausted yet? We’re finally moving upstairs to the sweets section!

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Cutting Chai Macaron

Above we have the Cutting Chai Macaron by Pooja Dhingr from Le15 Patisserie in Mumbai, India. Tea-flavored desserts are my weak spot, and these macarons found the bullseye in my tummy.

Below, we have a (huge) selection of chocolates and truffles by Aditi Malhotra, founder and chocolatier at Tache Artisan Chocolate in New York.

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Chocolates from Tache Artisan Chocolate

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To the left, and below, we have the winner of the sweets category as voted by the judges: Ritz Pie a la Mode with Fresh Candied Apples, Toasted Walnut Ice Cream, and Parmesan by Tyler Malek, Head Ice Cream Maker at Salt and Straw Ice Cream in Portland, Oregon. 

You can’t see the pie part from the picture, but it tasted like a deliciously caramelized apple pie with an amazingly rich scoop of ice cream on top.

Tyler explained that he likes making ice cream so much because “you can basically tell whatever story you want with just milk and cream.”
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Lastly, we have the audience-voted winner of the sweets category: The Hot Mess by Alexandra Clark, founding chocolatier at Bon Bon Bon in Detroit, Michigan. As you can see from my picture below, it was indeed a hot mess, but in the best way possible. The warm, freshly squeezed liquid chocolate was definitely supposed to stay inside the chocolate shell… It came with a shot of cold milk, too!

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As you can imagine, these little bite-sized dishes added up in my stomach, and I left the State House feeling incredibly full and delightfully satisfied. To all of the amazing attendees and chefs I met at the festival: I look forward to continuing my food adventures with all of you in the future!

Thanks again to Pan Communications and Forbes for the invitation. 10/10 would come again.

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