The first-ever PlateCraft event took place this week at Cullasaja Club in Highlands, N.C. This carefully selected venue set the stage for a highly exclusive and immersive gathering of club chefs to participate in a range of advanced culinary workshops led by industry-leading professionals on topics such as advanced garnishes and plating techniques, dry-aging, fermentation, protein bonding, sous vide and mousseline production. Attendees also visited multiple clubs in the area and tried the local cuisine.
“PlateCraft provides a rare opportunity for club chefs to gather in an intimate setting and learn from one other,” says Scott Craig, CEC, CCA, WCMC, Executive Chef of Cullasaja Club (Highlands, N.C.), one of the conference coordinators and host of the event. “We’re not competing with each other for members; there are no egos here. We are all here for the betterment of the craft and this industry.”
The event kicked off with a live butchery demonstration conducted by Dr. Daniel Clark, a meat scientist for Certified Angus Beef, followed by dinner at Canyon Kitchen, one of the most beautiful restaurant settings in the country, framed by verdant forests and meadows, encircled by thousand-foot granite cliffs.
On Monday, PlateCraft began with a session by the event’s sponsor, RATIONAL USA, and continued with education sessions led by three of the industry’s most well-respected club culinary leaders. Richard Brumm, CEC, WCEC, CCA, AAC, Director of Culinary Operations and Executive Chef of Bonita Bay Club (Bonita Springs, Fla.), discussed the meticulous art of dry-aging, offering insights into the intricate science and precise conditions that yield tender, intensely flavorful meats. He also discussed fermentation, where the magic of microorganisms transforms ordinary ingredients into extraordinary taste sensations. Equipped with samples for each attendee, Brumm demonstrated how these two time-honored practices open doors to various applications for club chefs.
Geo Lanez, MBA, CEC, Executive Chef of The Patterson Club (Fairfield, Conn.), took the stage next to unravel the secrets of advanced and intricate garnish techniques that have wowed at global culinary competitions. Drawing from a rich tapestry of experiences, Lanez guided attendees through a captivating journey of transforming garnishes from mere decoration into essential components of flavor and composition. He explored how, why, and when certain applications work while encouraging attendees to think outside the box with their finishing touches, break paradigms, and push the skill of club chefs to the next level.
Next, Chef Craig discussed ways to elevate the center of the plate with protein bonding, sous vide, and mousseline production. Attendees learned how protein bonding affects texture and taste, from creating ash inlays to restructuring proteins for unique dishes. Attendees also learned to craft chlorophyll-rich mousselines and experiment with hot-set and cold-set terrines.
During the immersive, hands-on workshops, attendees were divided into groups of five to work in Cullasaja’s kitchen with each of the PlateCraft chef presenters to bring the various techniques and lessons from the morning lectures to life.
After, attendees embarked on a behind-the-scenes tour of Highlands Country Club, led by Executive Chef Angel Herrera, followed by an Appalachian-themed dining experience at Cullasaja Club and a special CBD-infused cocktail hour.
On Tuesday, PlateCraft attendees assembled their final dishes, embodying the essence of their acquired skills. Chef Craig provided photography insights, social media tactics, and additional tools, motivating attendees to showcase their achievements and knowledge, fostering industry-wide collaboration and pushing the boundaries of club culinary excellence.
Later, attendees toured Wildcat Cliffs Country Club, where Executive Chef Will Bystrzycki provided a behind-the-scenes, immersive tour of the club’s kitchen and dining spaces. PlateCraft concluded Tuesday afternoon with final remarks and a packed lunch from the culinary team at Cullasaja Club.
Subscribe to C+RC’s e-newsletter for first access to more photos and videos from the inaugural PlateCraft experience as well as information about upcoming events. Registration is now open for the 2024 Chef to Chef Conference, March 3-5 in Austin. Click here to register. Early-bird pricing ends Dec. 31.