Top Birmingham chef jets off to Chicago to represent the UK

The Chef Director of award-winning Opus Restaurant in Birmingham’s Colmore Business District has left for Chicago today to represent the UK in a culinary celebration of the NATO nations.

Opus Restaurant’s David Colcombe has been invited to take part in Chicago’s Culinary Crossroads, which will celebrate the nations to be represented during the NATO Summit in Chicago in May.

Taking place on 1st to 25th May, Culinary Crossroads will see restaurants throughout Chicago present special tasting menus and featured items inspired by the cuisines of the NATO nations. As part of this, seven internationally renowned chefs from NATO nations will be paired with participating restaurants to collaborate on menus that reflect the visiting chef’s cuisines.

Visiting for five days, David Colcombe will be paired with Chef Dirk Flanigan of Henri and The Gage, two of downtown Chicago’s most acclaimed dining venues. The chefs will work together on an Opus-inspired menu, which will be featured at Henri throughout dinner service this Thursday.
The trip will see the international chefs and their hosts visit Chicago public schools, where they will participate in a panel discussion with culinary arts students about their own career paths and history of their country’s cuisine. David will also have the opportunity to provide feedback and input on the students’ own dishes.

Birmingham’s strengths as a gastronomic leader are no secret stateside, with the city already celebrated in the prestigious New York Times for its foodie offering earlier this year.

Speaking about the visit, David said,

I am absolutely thrilled to have been asked to represent the UK abroad at this great celebration. We have a modern British menu at Opus Restaurant with a commitment to seasonality and freshness, which I hope to reflect in the collaborated menu in Chicago.

I am looking forward to having the opportunity to share personal development, aspirations and career paths with students, as well as give advice on cooking styles and techniques with the hope of inspiring the youth of today that want to enter the hospitality industry.

The trip builds on Birmingham’s special relationship with Chicago as a sister city, which has included a number of trips from the Midlands to Illinois, including a delegation at the end of 2011 by the city’s Inward Investment programme, Business Birmingham.

Ian Taylor, Commercial Director for Marketing Birmingham, the city’s strategic marketing partnership, added:

Birmingham is fast becoming recognised as a leader in cuisine, which is illustrated throughout the spectrum of food available in the city, from Michelin star restaurants to top-class independents.

Events such as Birmingham Food Fest, set to take place this July, give talented local chefs a platform to demonstrate their passion for good food and it is great that this is now being recognised internationally. We will be working to further enhance the city’s reputation in this field and attract even more people to experience Birmingham’s food offer throughout 2012 and beyond.

Opus Restaurant is one of many independent food and drink venues based in Birmingham’s business quarter, Colmore Business District (CBD). Michele Wilby, Executive Director of CBD said this was another boost to Birmingham’s excellent culinary reputation:

Birmingham is internationally acclaimed for its food and drink offering and it’s fantastic to have one of our very own leading chefs going to collaborate with a top chef in the USA.”

Sheila O'Grady, President of the Illinois Restaurant Association, the organisation behind the Chicago’s Culinary Crossroads event , said:

Chef Colcombe was selected through the Illinois Restaurant Association and Chicago Sister City’s partnership with the Délice network. Chef Colcombe came highly recommended by our counterparts in Birmingham and we couldn't be more thrilled to welcome him as the UK's culinary representative."

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