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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week Launch - Part I of 4

As a blogger, a community columnist and a lover of food, I simply cannot express the level of excitement I felt when I opened my invitation to the launch of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week 2013 at the Culinary Institute of America.

Janet Crawshaw, found of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week and Publisher of Valley Table magazine (Link to Valley Table) would be speaking as well as Dr. Tim Ryan, President of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).

Upon arrival, press and guests were offered tours of the CIA's newest restaurant, "Bocuse" and for a preview, please visit the 4th post in this series.

In the Ecolab Theater, more press, sponsors, chefs, advisory board members and guests assembled.

First to speak was Dr. Tim Ryan who shared a few facts and thoughts about Hudson Valley Restaurant Week (HVRW) and the restaurant business in general.  For example, the audience was asked what the second largest private employer in the nation is and yes, the answer was restaurants.  Though the largest employer is the Federal government, the largest private employer is the healthcare field.

Dr. Ryan also explained, "restaurants have a vibrant multiplier effect..." and can be considered the economic backbone of a location due to their impact on agriculture, tourism and lodging.  

A bit of background was shared about Chef Paul Bocuse and the new CIA restaurant. Though Chef Bocuse was praised for his truffle soup in 1975, when asked about the inspiration behind his dish, the Chef shared nothing is really new and that he was thinking of chicken pot pie and the crust when he topped his creation with puff pastry.  The award Dr. Ryan presented to Chef Peter X. Kelly, Co-Chair of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week's Advisory Board and restaurateur, was based on the appearance of that infamous dish.

Janet Crawshaw also shared facts and figures about HVRW.  The entire geographical area is approximately a 5 hour drive, 7 counties, 175 participating restaurants and contains about 2,500 farms. 

"Farm to Table" awards were presented to Dr. Sam Simon who after retiring as a notable orthopedic surgeon, grew a non-profit dairy farm co-op to Hudson Valley Fresh (Link to Hudson Valley Fresh here) which will soon include 10 farms in Dutchess, Columbia and Ulster counties as well as Chef/Owner John Novi of Canal House.  While Chef Novi smiled during his acceptance speech and claimed he was "a hippy in shorts and sandals" when he started, his career has resulted in about 300 externs launching their own professional lives.

(Left to right: Janet Crawshaw, John Novi and Dr. Sam Simon)
Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro also reminded the audience of the local representation of the Hudson Valley at this year's presidential inauguration.  In addition, Putnam County Executive, Mary Ellen O'Dell was on hand to support HVRW.

At the close of the press conference, participating chefs posed for a group photograph.

The story continues...

I know though some are hungry to see a sample of the tasty treats served at the CIA and so, a peek at my plate.  Be sure to visit the upcoming additional posts to this series for more fabulous plates and dishes.

All of the contents on this fabulous plate were delicious without a doubt.  I wonder if you can tell which was element was surprisingly my favorite?  I confess, it was not this delicious assortment of fine foods that left me feeling Fed Well, it was being a part of such a spectacular event.  

To answer the question - my favorite was the simple slice of blood orange on the left hand side of the plate.  I wondered if some one's sole purpose was to guard the fruit tree and pick the citrus at the exact moment it would be simply perfect to eat.

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