We continue to look forward to MAD4 by looking back at notable speeches from years past. Time for a classic: Ben Shewry’s “Cycle of Love.”

Read More

"I’ve never been good at anything so, naturally, I ended up being good at advertising," said the author and ad exec Knud Romer at the beginning of his speech at last year’s MAD. The relentlessly self-deprecating Romer, who insists he knows nothing about food and most recently moderated a MAD Monday on the future of food criticism, presented a largely autobiographical talk at MAD3 about the guts it takes to be honest.

Read More

In the weeks leading up to MAD4, we’ll be sharing videos from the last three symposiums to refresh people’s memory and get them in the mood for what’s to come in August. Today, we unearth three very different presentations from MAD3: the talks of author Jon Reiner, glaciologist Jason Box, and Aboriginal forager Josh Whiteland.

Read More

Read More

Today chef Margot Henderson runs one of the most pleasant and delicious places in London, the Rochelle Canteen. You can go there from the morning until the late afternoon, eat beautifully cooked meat, nurturing braises, bright and lovely salads, and perfect puddings. It’s smart, confident food that’s everything you need when you want to feel like you’re eating in England’s capital.

Henderson actually grew up in New Zealand, where she landed in kitchens when she dropped out of college. She was trying to scrape up enough money to end up in the UK and figure out what she really wanted to do with her life.

Here’s what happened:

Read More

The Danish thinker and writer Tor Nørretranders has played an instrumental role in MAD’s development over the past four years. Today, in the first installment of our new series From The Vault, we’d like to share his three talks from the symposium. All of the presentations explore similar themes and build on the argument that gaining knowledge and exploring the edible world will lead to a more delicious future. 

Read More

In the latest entry in our continuing series on chefs’ first days in restaurant kitchens (see previous entries with Dominique Crenn and Michel Bras), Mario Batali remembers his unlikely beginnings.

The chef who has broken into the public consciousness perhaps more widely than any of his contemporaries — serving as the subject of an acclaimed book by Bill Buford, running successful restaurants throughout the globe, and hosting one of the most popular shows on daytime television — Batali entered the kitchen to chase girls. In the late 1970s, after enrolling at Rutgers University, he asked for a job at Stuff Yer Face, a pizzeria in town that’s still in business today. 

Here’s Mario explaining how it all happened: 

Read More

We are thrilled to announce the MAD Grant, a new initiative that brings 10 young chefs to attend the MAD Symposium in Copenhagen. We want to gift this opportunity to 10 aspiring chefs from all over the world who show promise and would otherwise not have the means to join us for the event. 

The MAD Grant will cover travel and accommodation expenses, as well as the cost of the Symposium ticket.

Read More

Over the past decade, smoking foods has experienced a resurgence in kitchens around the globe. At first blush, these techniques seem simple and primitive (and in many respects, they are), but a plethora of variables, details, and scientific concerns come together to make the matter of smoking foods a potentially confusing one. Learning to navigate these challenges can unlock a world of new flavors.

To introduce the uninitiated to the practices of cold and hot smoking, as well as all the ways you can enhance and preserve your food, we enlisted the help of Nordic Food Lab researcher Guillemette Barthouil — who comes from a family of French smokers — to develop a primer for cooks, chefs, and enthusiasts interested in jumping in. Here it is:

Read More

Team MAD has traveled to Mexico City to attend chef Enrique Olvera’s Mesamérica every year since the festival’s inception in 2012. This year’s proceedings, which concluded just a few minutes ago, might be the most memorable yet.

Read More

At the age of 25, Michel Bras assembled a dish of the best the garden in his native Aubrac had to offer. It changed gastronomy. The gargouillou was an intuitive, meticulous reflection of the landscape that evolved with nearly every passing day. The preparation has become one of the most emulated dishes in modern gastronomy and the symbol of a vegetable-based cuisine that has influenced contemporary chefs around the globe (Bras cooked a version of the gargouillou at the first MAD Symposium). In an interview with the blog Food Snob in 2009, the chef Wylie Dufresne put it succinctly: “Bras has been copied by every chef in the world. We’ve all taken a page out of his book — the smear, the spoon drag, putting food on a plate like it fell off a tree.” 

We recently asked Bras to devote some thought to how he fell under the spell of vegetables. In the following essay, the chef describes formative experiences growing up in Aubrac, where he explored the land, taught himself how to cook, developed an exhaustive knowledge of the plant kingdom, and eventually opened the restaurant we now know as Bras.

Here is his piece (the original version, in French, is included at the end): 

Read More

Want to join our team in Copenhagen? We’re on the lookout for talented warriors, writers, and designers to work with us now, as we gear up for the symposium in August. Internships are unpaid, and their duration is flexible.

To apply, please send us a cover letter, résumé, and references to internships@madfood.co. If you are a designer, please also attach your portfolio.

The Copenhagen-born, Berlin-based artist Olafur Eliasson (b. 1967) has said that his art should allow people to see themselves sensing. By thoughtfully harnessing the natural elements, Eliasson creates works that make you take note of your place in the physical world around you. Storied projects from his career include an installation of man-made waterfalls along the New York City waterfront (one critic described them as “remnants of a primordial Eden, beautiful, uncanny signs of a natural nonurban past that the city never had”) and a takeover of the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, during which he filled the room with mist and placed a massive circle of monofrequency lights on the wall to mimic the sun. The effects of his art are often visceral and sublime.

You may be wondering why Eliasson is appearing in a space dedicated to the world of chefs and cooking. It’s a fair concern for which there’s an easy explanation: Eliasson’s studio in Pfefferburg, Berlin has a very special kitchen. In it, he and his kitchen operators Asako Iwama and Lauren Maurer have not only developed a space that serves as an example of mindful and flavorful cooking — with little resemblance to your average office cafeteria, or even kitchen staff canteen — but also a space dedicated to exploring our relationship to eating and cooking.

Read More

With MAD4: What Is Cooking? fast approaching, we asked several chefs around the world to write about their first day in a professional restaurant kitchen. It’s a memory most in this business can access instantly and accurately, down to the ingredients they had to peel and chop, the characters that surrounded them, and their fears and aspirations on day one of their career. 

First up in the series is Dominique Crenn, the French-born chef of San Francisco’s Atelier Crenn, recounting the time she walked into Jeremiah Tower’s Stars and asked for a gig without a résumé.

Here is Dominique, in her own words: 

"Damn everything but the circus! … The average ‘painter’ ‘sculptor’ ‘poet’ ‘composer’ ‘playwright’ is a person who cannot leap through a hoop from the back of a galloping horse, make people laugh with a clown’s mouth, orchestrate twenty lions."

- E.E. Cummings, Him: A Play

I had walked in confidently the day before, no circus school on my résumé. No résumé in fact. I approached the ringmaster, looked him in the eye, and said in my (at the time even more pronounced) French accent that I loved le cirque. Particularly, I thought that his was the best circus in town and I wanted to work for him. Jeremiah Tower told me to come back the next day. 

Read More

This is the second installment of Dispatches from the Lab, a regular column in which the Nordic Food Lab share stories of their work and their travels. Today NFL researcher Josh Evans takes us to the Australian outback, where he and colleague Ben Reade recently traveled to investigate entomophagy as part of their research initiative to “make insects delicious to the Western palate.”

Once you get beyond the sounds of the four elderly ladies and their crowbars in the dirt, out of range of their colorful dresses, the outback looks the same in every direction: flat, scrubby, semi-arid, the earth cracked and full of new green after the recent rain. And no sign of a road or car.

Read More