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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Beyond Measure

A behind-the-scenes peek from TedxAustin 2012. Virtuoso trumpeter, Jeff Lofton, known as the Miles Davis of our day, began the conference with a performance that filled all of Austin Music Hall with its breath-taking resonance.

Beyond Measure was not just the theme of TedxAustin 2012; It was the amount of anticipation that I felt leading up the coordination of Natural Epicurean volunteers to support the lunch service of yesterday's conference. Tedx's Jennie Chen masterfully enrolled six of Austin's most renowned restaurant chefs to each design a unique menu with access to the same 12 locally-sourced ingredients, and it manifested in this amazing lunch experience:

Swift's Attic
Mat Clouser, Zack Northcutt and Callie Speer
Roasted Chicken Bahn Mi, Broccoli Kimchee Spinach & Quick Pickle Salad

Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher
The Chicken or the Egg - Chicken pot-au-feu with egg ravoili

Josh Watkins
Chicken Roulades, bacon, espellete, sherry emulsion
Texmati rice, dried apricots, almonds, celery, black pepper syrup
Carrots, caraway, molasses, pork jus gastrique

Jason Donoho
Smoked Vital Farms Chicken & Spinach Morcilla Blanca, Carrot Purée, Broccoli Slaw & Egg Yolk Bottarga

Philip Speer
Vital farms chicken, sweet short grain rice, candied pork belly, crispy garlic
Pickled carrots & broccoli, Spinach oshitaki

Wink/BC Tavern
Matt Taylor
Cachatorrie-Style Braised Chicken with Roasted Carrots and Spinach
Broccoli & Bleu Cheese Macaroni

When not working with the chefs and Natural Epicurean assistants to prep and serve lunch, I was on the balcony soaking in the wisdom emanating from the amazing speakers who graced the stage. Here are some of the messages that stuck with me.

I was struck by how profoundly Tanya Streeter, freedive world record holder and environmentalist, redefines limits in every aspect of her life. As she so eloquently put it, "to redefine limits is to first accept that there are limits. They're just not where you think they are."

Jeremy Courtney, the founder of the Preemptive Love Coalition, a non-profit that sets out to eradicate the backlog of Iraqi children waiting in line for lifesaving heart surgery, spoke about how by "suspending suspicion and extending trust" he has been able to bring together individuals who belong to communities that are declared enemies and support the rebuilding of the war-torn country. I was left in wonderment of how someone who is not an Iraqi and not a surgeon, could garner such compassion and such expertise to make this impactful work possible.

Craig Hella Johnson, the conductor of Austin's multi-Grammy-winning choir, Conspirare, struck me by how effortlessly flowed between song and humble yet prophetic prose about our very existence in one of the most dynamic Ted Talks that I've ever witnessed. He concluded with this excerpt of a poem from Rumi, "What Was Said to the Rose."

What Was Said to the Rose
What Was Said to the Rose
What was said to the rose that made it open
was said to me here in my chest.
What was told the Cypress that made it strong
and straight, what was
whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
sugarcane sweet, whatever
was said to the inhabitants of the town of Chigil in
Turkestan that makes them
so handsome, whatever lets the pomegranate flower blush
like a human face, that is
being said to me now. I blush. Whatever put eloquence in
language, that's happening here.
The great warehouse doors open; I fill with gratitude,
chewing a piece of sugarcane,
in love with the one to whom every that belongs!
Poem by Jalaluddin Rumi,
translation ©2005 — Coleman Barks

If you have yet to explore the vast online database of fascinating talks on ted.com, follow this link to see one of my favorites: http://www.ted.com/talks/luis_von_ahn_massive_scale_online_collaboration.html


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