Last weekend, hundreds of chefs made their way to Atlanta for a chance to see the latest trends in food from the region's best chefs, cooking competitions and to network with some the elite in the food industry.
The American Culinary Federation's Southeast Regional Conference was hosted by ACF Greater Atlanta Chapter Inc., as a way to bring together food service professionals, chefs and students from across the Southeast for a culinary weekend.
And local chef Daryl Shular, corporate executive chef at Performance Foodservice-Milton's in Oakwood, attended the expo and showcased new competitive techniques.
Shular has been competitively cooking for four years and was member of the 2008 ACF Regional Team USA.
He presented a seminar on Saturday: "Cold Food for Competitions: Explore the fundamentals of cold food techniques for competition."
Shular discussed glazing and cleaning techniques for cold food competition entries with the students and chefs.
"(For the cold food presentation) I went at it from a few perspectives, from a competition perspective and from the judges' perspective."
"I went step-by-step through the process from starting the competition to presentation," Shular said.
Cheese and beer pairing, gluten intolerance, the regional cuisine of Italy and vegetarian diets are just some of the topics hundreds of chefs discussed over the weekend.
There were several cooking competitions that took place off-site at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Atlanta and winners of the regional competitions will advance to the national competitions in Dallas this July.
Shular said he did see some interesting culinary trends over the three-day conference like "taking classic dishes, things that we grew up on, like a pot roast and adding a new age twist, or deconstruction," he said.
Another popular trend is creating a foam out of most any type of food like avocado, or even a truffle hollandaise sauce that Shular created.
"It's all sort of like making a whipped cream," he said. "There is a special canister you use and you inject air into ... it makes it silky smooth with a different feel."
Shular said the weekend was a perfect way for chefs to regionally network and learn new food trends.
"In this economy ... a lot of chefs are out of work," he said. "It's an opportunity to get back in the marketplace. The sharing of ideas (is important) and being able to taste foods and get new ideas — it's like a reunion."
Shular is currently preparing for a eight-man team competition in 2012 and to become a Master Chef.
"I'm starting to get real serious about the Master Chef exam," he said. "It's an eight-day process and they test you on all elements of cooking and every aspect of the food service industry. The success rate is low but if you train well, you should do OK. I feel like I have the foundation."