While most food conferences encompass a global perspective, Roots of American Food takes a refreshing approach and focuses on home instead. The latest conference took place in NYC, where founder Stephen Torres gathered chefs, restaurateurs, food writers, and thinkers alike to share their knowledge and passion for one of the country’s most unique and vibrant cities – New Orleans.
The day long conference dug into every aspect of the city — covering topics from the Hurricane Katrina aftermath to Frenchmen Street music and bars, to the differences between Creole and Cajun food.
More importantly, the conference highlighted those who have found a lifetime of inspiration from New Orleans.
“If it weren’t for my time living in New Orleans, I wouldn’t have became a chef” says David Kinch, who recounts his time growing up in the city. His new restaurant, Bywater, is a love letter to the city he credits for the happiest time of his life where he learned about music, food, and friendships.
At night, the conversation and party continued at Betony restaurant where guests were met with the Jambalaya Brass Band, a Sazerac vs. Ramon Gin Fizz debate, cocktails from Cure, and food by chef Isaac Toups of Toups Meatery and Michael Gulotta of MOPHO.
When asked about the biggest takeaway from this year’s conference, Stephen Torres says, “the city of New Orleans is a constant source of inspiration for myself and my family. I think the big takeaway for me after this year was that yes, the food, cocktails and music are so special but what makes it unique is the people. The people make the experience. Every single person who participated from Donald Link to Neal Bodenheimer to Michael Gulotta and Isaac Toups brought a little piece of their New Orleans for everyone in New York. I feel very grateful to be able to work with these amazing people in showcasing the city that we love. The conference has grown every year and I hope to continue that trend next year for the 5th anniversary. It will be bigger then any year previous.”
See some of our favorite moments below.