MAD4 symposium draws Austin elite

Paul Qui, having recently been honored as one of 50 nominees for Bon Appetit’s best new restaurants of 2014 with his new self-titled venture Qui, attended the fourth iteration of the MAD food symposium this year in Copenhagen. Qui has been building a culinary empire in Austin, Texas, gaining a reputation as one of the elite chefs in the Lone Star State. Jody Eddy at Food Republic met up with the exuberant Qui and his team, shadowing him through a day at the event, fulfilling the dream of every aspiring chef and student taking culinary courses online.

What is MAD?
MAD is a nonprofit organization looking to closely examine the cooking world. The fourth MAD symposium took place from Aug. 24-25, drawing in some of the world’s most renowned chefs, including David Chang, Roy Choi, Daniel Patterson and Danny Bowien. What makes MAD symposiums esoteric events is their meditative nature, serving as a retreat for avid cooks, television cooking personalities and millionaire restaurateurs to examine their relationship with food. These great minds spend two days reminding themselves why they began cooking in the first place, and share tricks of the trade with passion and excitement. In many cases, the more well-known of these culinary personalities have become bogged down with numerous restaurants, media obligations, endorsed product lines and general name branding that prevents them from having a close relationship with their craft. That’s why the theme of MAD4 was simply “What is cooking?” It was a chance for the artists of the culinary world to reflect and return to their roots.

Paul Qui
During his time in Copenhagen, Qui attended presentations from various chefs, furiously jotting down ideas to use for inspiration at a later time. The Austin chef’s mentality seems based on a foundation of collaboration, research and experimentation.

“You can’t work in a petri dish. You have to get out there, you have to be continually learning and evolving. You can only taste a dish 10 or 12 times before your palate goes numb. It’s the same with ideas. When you’re only cooking in your kitchen, you lose perspective and the ability to taste the same thing day after day. Conferences represent that new dish, the new flavor that reinvigorates your palate,” Qui told Food Republic.

Until the next MAD symposium, Qui will have to be sated with this year’s offerings. The chef, who has always emphasized hospitality, will likely be presenting there himself soon enough.

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