Surprises, Inspiration at 2013 Culinary Conference

Culinary Conference Menu 2013 Library Culinary ConferenceFoodies and casual eaters alike converged at W. Dale Clark Main Library downtown for the third annual Read It & Eat Culinary Conference on November 2.

The free Omaha Public Library (OPL) event is a reflection of Omaha’s booming culinary scene, and the community’s growing interest in natural and locally-sourced foods.

A theme of condiments promised an exploration of cooking accents from honey to infusions. Presenters offered demonstrations and accompanying samples for guests to enjoy. Along the way, some attendees were not only entertained, but inspired to make alterations or additions to their diets (and/or kitchens).

Erin Fairchild of Girl Gone Veggie

Erin Fairchild

On a whim Omaha transplant Erin Fairchild attended the event–with her in-laws from Connecticut in tow. “[It] was their first day in Nebraska,” she said. “They got to see that not only are there things to do here, but that Nebraska rocks! [My husband and I] love living here.”

Author and Red Bee ® Honey owner Marina Marchese, in from the East Coast for the event, kicked off the conference with a presentation on the benefits of honey. Guests enjoyed a honey and cheese tasting/pairing, at one point plugging their noses (as instructed) to fully savor the sweet food.

Fairchild was sold. “I had no idea how important honey is for our environment and our society, and also how in danger honey bees are. I bought the book The Honey Connoisseur and am having a lot of fun incorporating honey into my meals,” she shared.

Natalie Yoo of Food Me Omaha

Natalie Yoo

Returning presenter and Omaha vegan cook favorite Isa Chandra Moskowitz whipped up vegan ice cream. “My favorite part was Isa’s spunky fun energy and her pumpkin pie ice cream,” blogger Natalie Yoo shared. “I am tempted to get the ice cream maker that Isa uses.”

Yoo came to the event “with an open mind and curious taste buds,” she said. “I don’t think I will ever get bored learning, tasting, appreciating, and sharing all the diverse food experiences.”

Local bartenders Binoy Fernandez and Clark Ross were on hand to share crowd-pleasing techniques on infusions. Their demonstration helped to take some of the guesswork out of attendee Bryce Bridges’ holiday shopping. “I enjoyed the whip-it infusion tutorial,” he said. “I am giving whip cream dispensers as holiday gifts to my brother and sister. I can see them geeking out about the ramifications of the process as much as I have.”

Cynthia Gehrie was also fascinated by Ferndandez and Ross’ shrub demo, so much that she has since integrated the fruit-vinegar concoction into her dinner routine. “I never thought I would drink vinegar, but I have come to love it,” she said. “From vinegar to vegan, every part [of the event] contributed a new dimension.”

Access to information is at the heart of libraries, and events such as this add another dimension to this mission. Yoo summed it up quite perfectly: “The library provides learning through books and people.”

To see what events, culinary and beyond, OPL has to offer, view our online calendar.

Honey pairing by Red Bee Honey

Honey pairing presented by Marina Marchese of Red Bee Honey.

vegan pumpkin ice cream

Isa Chandra Moskowitz during her demo.

Infusions with Omaha bartenders

Binoy Fernandez and Clark Ross presented on infusions.

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