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IACP Chiacgo 2007


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IACP Conference Chicago 2007
April 11-14, 2007
Chicago, IL


By Jami English and Antoinette Bruno, with contributions from Liz Tarpy
May 2007


On April 11, individuals from all walks of the professional culinary industry gathered in the heart of downtown Chicago for the annual four-day International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) conference.

The theme of the conference, “Culinary Fundamentals: Cultivating our Professional Roots,” set the stage for an in-depth exploration of the history and future of the culinary industry, reminding all who attended that in order to gauge progress in the business of food we must first understand the original sources from which our modern ideas grew. Each lecture explored some facet of either convention or modernization in the food industry and brought to light culinary traditions that are being maintained throughout generations, ideas that are being reworked and adapted for a new generation, or practices that are gradually fading away with the passage of time.

Through seminars and panel discussions, the conference delved into the impact that media such as Internet, television, magazines, and books has had on the careers of food professionals. The event fostered a spirit of education and provided ample networking opportunities to industry novices and veterans alike.

WCR 2006 at StarChefs.com
Participating Chefs at the IACP Gala

In another lecture, The Good Soup Comes From the Good Earth: Cooking of Ghana, Gateway to West Africa, Fran Osseo-Asare, a sociologist, writer, and founder of “Betumi: The African Culinary Network”, and Gloria Nyamekye Mensah, a cooking teacher and caterer from Ghana, discussed the importance of “The Holy Trinity” (onions, tomatoes, and chili) as a base for most Ghanian cuisine. The flavor combination has been a long-time staple in the culture and remains so to this day.

Lidia Bastianich at StarChefs.com
Adam Seger's Peppered Gin Tomatillo Cocktail

The New Wave of Marketing and PR
If the cookbook industry is becoming more and more difficult to break in to, how else is a chef supposed to generate publicity buzz? “Embrace the web!” was the answer given at a seminar on New Generation Marketing: Understanding the Best Practices of Buzz and E-marketing. Panelists Andrew Freeman of Andrew Freeman and co., Lisa Donoughe of LAD Communications and Rebecca Kollaras of Kollaras Communications discussed how both small and large food businesses can incorporate digital media in to their communications and marketing plans.

Good PR requires an understanding of “the buzz factor” – the business of generating positive and productive buzz about a company. You can’t build a brand today without a strategic online strategy. The speakers stressed that “you are only as visible as your Google score;” 400 million people use Google monthly and to generate buzz you need to be in the first three hits in a pertinent Google search. Despite the importance of technological exposure, the power of word of mouth should never be underestimated. To inspire this PR “evangelism” a company must make community involvement and staff empowerment a top priority. Finally, a business should not limit itself to only one technological outlet when there is such a wealth of options available, but use outlets like blogs and podcasts to spread “buzz” to as many people as possible through as many outlets as possible.

Guillermo and Laura Mares, Scott Peacock and Friends from Bacchanalia on StarChefs.com

Hervé This Experiments Live on Stage

Highlights of Food Science
Several notable seminars discussed the topic of culinary science. At A Savory and Sweet Look Into Postmodern Cuisine, Honmaru Cantu of Moto and his pastry chef Ben Roche spoke about revolutionary cooking techniques that incorporate culinary artistry with scientific innovation, including printing food and cooking with light. The encyclopedic, food-science minded Harold McGee and culinary anthropologist Shirley Corriher hosted an interactive workshop entitled The Doctor Is In which offered sensible, scientific solutions to even the most complex cooking conundrums. Along the same line, Hervé This, director of the INRA (Molecular Gastronomy Group) discussed the merits of Molecular Gastronomy – applying the scientific method to cooking and experimenting with technology to expand culinary horizons.

This year’s IACP conference provided a wealth of topics, breadth and depth of information and a diverse array of culinary industry professionals. The issues raised at the conference varied greatly from seminar to seminar, but were all in some way pertinent to understanding the past, present, and future of the rapidly growing international culinary community. In a world connected by new media, it’s important to stay on top of local, national, and global trends. The culinary industry has great social and historical significance, and knowledge of its past allows for valuable insight into its potential future. Through its diversity, the conference harmoniously linked the past and present, enabling culinary professionals to move forward without forgetting to look back.

 

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