FRIDAY 5/25, elements proudly presents Alex & Aki from IdeasInFood.com, with Five Diamond Chef Curtis Duffy of Chicago and John Shields
**special hors d’oeuvre mingle with the chefs 6-7pm, Dinner starts at 7pm.
Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot are Ideas in Food, a blog, a book, and a culinary consulting business based in Levittown, PA. They met in the kitchen at Clio in Boston in 1997 and have been cooking together ever since. Aki and Alex specialize in sharing techniques for creativity with chefs, cooks, restaurants, food service companies, and home cooks using modern ingredients, equipment, and innovative approaches to food. They emphasize an understanding of ingredients and cooking techniques (both classic and modern) in order to increase skill levels and refine individual cooking styles. They specialize in helping other chefs express their own cuisine more clearly and efficiently. In addition to their work with individual chefs and restaurants, they have consulted with companies such as the Art Institutes, the Institute of Culinary Education, Marks & Spencer, and Unilever.
Learn more about Aki & Alex
Born in Columbus, OH, Curtis Duffy knew early on he had a passion for cooking. In addition to having the support of his parents, he was fortunate enough to have his passion recognized and encouraged by two of his teachers, both of whom remain close friends and mentors. To this day, he notes these teachers alongside such culinary luminaries as Michel Bras, Charlie Trotter, Grant Achatz and Fernand Point as key influencers in his career.
While in high school, Duffy started working for chef John P. Souza at a private golf club, learning the basics – and advanced – culinary techniques. After six years under Souza’s tutelage, Duffy left to work as chef de cuisine at another private club, while at the same time finishing his studies at Ohio State University. Shortly after receiving his Associates Degree in Applied Science (1999), he left Ohio to move to Chicago to work at the legendary Charlie Trotter’s; while at Trotter’s, Duffy staged at The French Laundry – the young chef he honed his skills at the two restaurants oft-named #1 and #2 in the country. After three years at Trotter’s, Duffy accepted a position as Pastry Chef at theesteemed Trio, where he was recognized as “Best Innovative Pastry Chef” from Food &Wine (2003). It was at Trio where Duffy met chef Grant Achatz; in 2004, he and Achatz left Trio to open Alinea the following spring, where Duffy worked as chef de cuisine. Alinea skyrocketed to fame, being named the “Best Restaurant in America” by Gourmet just one year after opening, and is widely recognized as one of the best restaurants in the world. In 2008, Duffy took his impressive skill set to Avenues (The Peninsula Chicago) and was instantly celebrated for his thoughtful, progressive and imaginative cuisine by consumers and media alike.
At Avenues, Duffy garnered an extraordinary list of awards and accolades, including receiving two stars from the coveted Michelin Guide, perfect four-star ratings from Chicago magazine and the Chicago Tribune, and the AAA Five Diamond Award. In May 2010, to mark the 20th anniversary of the James Beard Awards, Duffy was named a “Legacy Chef.” The James Beard Foundation asked previous Outstanding Chef award winners from each of the prior twenty years to select a chef whom they have mentored and whom they believe would have a major impact on the culinary world in years to come. Grant Achatz selected Duffy – essentially naming him to the next generation of leading chefs. The following year, Duffy was nominated by the JBF as “Best Chef, Great Lakes Region.”
In mid-2011, Duffy left Avenues to begin making plans for his own restaurant, expected to open mid-2012. At Grace, Duffy’s culinary style – that of elegant, graceful cuisine – will be showcased, reflecting his personal taste and drawing upon his wealth of experience. His micro-seasonal cuisine is best described as “thoughtfully progressive” – thoughtful as he puts tremendous time, focus, research and thought into what he creates, and progressive as he will utilize modern techniques to coax the best out of the ingredients. Each dish is an expression of his personality – progressive but grounded – and puts ingredients at the forefront. He will continue to source the highest-quality ingredients, allowing flavor to trump technique; flavor first, with the modern techniques playing a supporting role, resulting in a supremely flavorful, thoughtful and engagingexperience for the guest.
While not in the kitchen, Duffy volunteers with the Grand Chefs Gala, the fundraiser benefitting the Greater Illinois Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In 2012, he will serve as the Chef Chair of the Gala; in 2010, he emceed the annual fundraiser and helped to raise $275,000 to benefit the Foundation. In his spare time, he spends time with his two young daughters and when he can, hits the road on a motorcycle trip. Duffy lives on the north side of Chicago.
learn more about Grace
Chef John B. Shields began his culinary training in the St. Louis area, attending culinary school and working in local restaurants. Shields then spent two years working as Sous Chef for the world-renowned Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago. Shields continued his career with Alinea as Sous Chef in 2005.
After graduating from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, Karen Urie Shields moved to Chicago where she worked for two years at TRU under James Beard Award-winning Pastry Chef, Gale Gand. Her next culinary challenge was working at Charlie Trotter’s, where she was Head Pastry Chef for two of her five years with the restaurant.
In 2008, John and Karen Shields found their way to Townhouse, bringing world-class dining to the historic hamlet of Chilhowie, VA (near Charlottesville). John served as Executive Chef, and Karen as Pastry Chef, until they closed the restaurant at the end of 2011. According to Philly.Eater.com, the couple is now contemplating a move to Philadelphia where they could operate their own restaurant. Stay tuned.
Learn about the chef’s new plans
$145 Food, $65 Optional wine pairing *Special hors d’oeuvre mingle with the chefs, 6-7pm
Dinner starts at 7pm. Web or Phone 609.924.0078 for reservations