For the third year, more than 350 executives, experts, and innovators in food, foodservice, health and wellness, nutrition, and environmental science will come together for the Menus of Change leadership summit, which is co-presented by The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Together, the CIA and Harvard are working to create a long-term, practical vision for the integration of optimal nutrition and public health, environmental stewardship and restoration, and social responsibility concerns within the foodservice sector and beyond. For the first time, the conference will take place at the CIA's campus in Hyde Park, New York, at the new, state-of-the-art event center, Marriott Pavilion. This is also the first year the general sessions will be available online via a webcast.
This year's summit focuses on helping chefs and other foodservice business leaders become better intrapreneurs and internal change makers, providing culinary strategies as well as the business case for driving change in their companies and operations. Along with some of the nation's best and most creative chefs, top experts from academia and various sectors of the food business community—from entrepreneurs to leaders of legacy brands—will be part of the program. The conference features culinary demonstrations highlighting plant-forward dishes from some of New York City's most imaginative chefs, including Jehangir Mehta (Mehtaphor), Amanda Cohen (Dirt Candy), and Franklin Becker (The Little Beet). Additional sessions will focus on consumer attitudes and behaviors, along with the business side of top risks to the food industry, including those around water, antibiotic use in animal agriculture, and dietary health and healthcare costs.
The full program schedule and biographies of all the presenters are available on the event’s website. Because the conference has sold out, a webcast makes it possible for more culinary professionals and interested members of the general public to hear the most cutting-edge insights and discussions on issues facing the $710 billion foodservice industry. The webcast will allow free, unlimited access to all eight general sessions from Wednesday, June 17 to Friday, June 19. All times on the schedule are Eastern Daylight Time. Some of the highlights include:
- June 17 at 4:55 p.m. EDT: The opening keynote presentation by Ron Shaich (founder, CEO, and chairman of Panera Bread) on how to embrace innovation, plus his view of the future of the restaurant industry at large.
- June 18 at 8:15 a.m. EDT: A session on the plant-forward menu imperative—the science, policy, and culinary approaches—with Christopher Gardner, PhD (Stanford School of Medicine), Eric Rimm, ScD (Harvard Medical School), and Richard Ball (New York State Department of Agriculture).
- June 19 at 1 p.m. EDT: The closing keynote presentation by Claus Meyer (Meyer Restaurant Group and Melting Pot Foundation) who will discuss the potential for local and indigenous food cultures worldwide to bring about widespread change.
For anyone watching the conference online, the 2015 Menus of Change Annual Report provides background and additional resources. In particular, many sessions will refer to the report's Principles of Healthy, Sustainable Menus and the State-of-the-Plate Dashboard that gives a snapshot of the foodservice industry's progress year over year towards improving nutrition, sustainability, and profitability. Later this month, PowerPoint presentations from the speakers will also be posted online.
"The past year's scientific and government reports and media headlines, together with seismic shifts in consumer attitudes, signal that continual change in the foodservice industry is part of the new status quo," says CIA president Tim Ryan. "Our partnership with Harvard—which has been in place for more than a decade—allows Menus of Change to present a unique integration of scientific, culinary, and business insight to help both our students and our industry's leadership prepare for an increasingly disruptive landscape of business challenges, and great opportunities."
Following the conference, the webcast will remain on menusofchange.org until next year's conference, June 14–16, 2016, back at the Marriott Pavilion in Hyde Park. Join the conversation throughout the year on Twitter:@CIALeadership and #CIAMOC.