Every two years thousands of restaurant and hospitality professionals from all over the world descend upon Lyon for five crazy days of networking and, for some elite chefs, to compete for their countries in a series of high-profile contests that range from the conventional (the Bocuse d'Or for cuisine and the Coupe du Monde for pastry) to the obscure (cheesemaking, latte art, catering - no really how do you make a contest out of that?). It's a food-lover's paradise that usually comes with a high price for admission, but because LCB had chefs participating in the competitions we, as students, got free passes.
Exhibitors ran the gamut from kitchen and table wares to chic chef uniforms, not to mention the vast array of food and beverages. My boss was even there to debut the newest iteration of the food truck, which will soon hit the streets of Paris.
The best part? Free samples of...everything. Imagine Costco but on an haute cuisine level, where instead of sautéing frozen sausages the chefs prepare elegant mini-plates of pan-fried duck with creamy spiced potatoes, or turn an entire cured ham hock into delicate slices of charcuterie right before your hungry eyes.
On our first day at Sirha, Steph and I entered Hall 1 of the behemoth Eurexpo complex with empty stomachs, and by the time we wound our way through Halls 4 and 5 several hours later were about ready to curl up and take a nap.
What did we eat? Um, what didn't we. I seem to recall nabbing a bunch of regional specialties like cheeses and meats, and then later ice creams, gelatos, chocolates, and bread. Lots of bread. One generous stall sent us away with an entire loaf of chocolate brioche!
After nibbling so much one gets thirsty, but fortunately there were plenty of wine and champagne tastings to be found. At one point I even managed to score a free cocktail although I later realized, when the bartender turned a couple of non-corporate bystanders away as I stood there sipping my drink, that these were intended for clients. Oops. #sorrynotsorry
I can't say I learned anything particularly concrete, possibly because we only stayed at demos long enough to get samples, but I got a lot of ideas from the plated desserts and sugar work we saw. Hopefully some of them will transfer into my own creations as I get back into school mode this week.