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Cooking Convention Covers Centuries Of La Technique

March 1, 1989

BOSTON (AP) _ Hundreds of cooking professionals at a gastronomic gathering this week concentrated on the chemistry of cooking and the history of their craft, but they didn’t neglect the savory stuff: 144 ways to prepare chocolate.

Some seminars explored centuries-old techniques that are back in vogue; others taught how to reconcile cooking methods of the past with today’s busy, hurried careerists. One answer: video shopping to replace time-consuming trips to the supermarket.

″People still want Momma’s cooking but they don’t want to spend time doing it,″ Louise Natenshon, a convention official and cooking consultant, said Wednesday.

″History to High Tech,″ the 11th annual gathering of the International Association of Cooking Professionals, joins chefs, restaurant owners and food writers on a wide mix of subjects from the gastronomy of grains to formulas for preparing chocolate.

Convention participants will attend workshops on such topics as ″The Future of Food″ and ″Can Recipes Travel Through Time?″

Seminars in Chinese cooking showed how the ancient method of cooking food over smoldering tea leaves is still in style.

″Smoking and grilling are ancient technologies but they’re also the wave of the future,″ Natenshon said. ″They add a different kind of flavor, like Cajun cooking.″

Several participants said they came to ″network″ as well as to learn about cooking.

″I think the most exciting thing is that people who like to eat are people who like life,″ said Janeen Sarlin, a cooking teacher who is one of nearly 400 participants in the convention that ends Saturday. ″If I learn just one thing, some new way of doing something this week, it’ll be worth it.″

The convention could get a little technical. For example, an early workshop in ″High-Tech Tips for Fail-Safe Recipes″ was clearly not for the kind of cook who relies on Hamburger Helper or macaroni and cheese.

Shirley Corriher, an Atlanta-based cooking instructor and food consultant held a roomful of students in thrall for two hours as she addressed common cooking problems. First, she distributed lecture notes that included a section on the ″basics of emulsion.″

″There are 128 or more sugars found in caramel,″ she said, while whipping up fish, chocolate sauce and a cake brioche. ″And the big secret for flakiness is ‘cold, cold, cold.’ ... You’ve got to get chocolate up to 118 degrees but you can’t get it over 120 or it separates out.″

But it’s not all hard work.

Participants sampled some of the goodies and will be allowed to kick up their heels during ″Wine Tasting - A Personal Sensory Analysis,″ ″Ways With Walnuts,″ or the ″Fisherman’s Feast,″ billed as the ″finale″ which includes a ″bounty of fish from the North Atlantic.″

Albert Kumin’s ″Luxuriate in Chocolate″ was the most popular workshop, according to convention spokeswoman Valerie Bergman. Kumin, a renowned pastry chef and confectioner, designed menus for the White House.

Carol Cutler, the author of eight cookbooks, was one of 93 participants who signed up for Kumin’s class.

″I like the master classes but it’s really the networking that many of us come for,″ she said. ″Like if I have some problem with yeast, I feel a lot more comfortable calling someone across the country to ask about it if I’ve already sat down with them here.″

The convention borrowed heavily from its New England locale. Workshops included ″Traditional New England Cookery,″ ″Boston Baked Beans, Brown Bread and Beta-Carotene,″ and ″Beyond the Boiled Lobster.″

And finally, for pressure cooker enthusiasts, there will be a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Presto pressure cooker, what National Presto Industries spokeswoman Shelia Sandy calls ″the poor man’s microwave.″ It dramatically decreased cooking time by the use of high-pressure steam.

The event will be duly marked during the convention with a 20-pound pressure cooker sculpted in chocolate.

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