Menus of Change, a new initiative co-presented by The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), will be held June 10 to 12 at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Mass. This leadership summit brings top culinary and food industry professionals together with investors, scientists, entrepreneurs, and food systems leaders. The goal of the initiative is to develop innovative, long-term guidance for foodservice professionals as they confront challenges at the convergence of public health, nutrition, sustainability, business success, and consumer preferences.
“From unsustainable rates of obesity to rising consumer sentiment around environmental imperatives and food ethics, today’s chefs and industry leaders are facing a changing landscape of business opportunity,” says CIA president Tim Ryan.
“This Menus of Change collaboration between the CIA and HSPH is developing strategies that both preserve the best of what customers love about restaurants and, at the same time, help chefs and foodservice executives navigate a host of critical, game-changing issues around public health and social responsibility.”
To develop clear and compelling direction for the foodservice and culinary sector, the CIA and Harvard have convened two advisory councils. A 17-member Scientific and Technical Advisory Council is comprised of top medical and nutrition science experts, food systems analysts, and environmental scientists. It is chaired by Walter Willett, MD, DrPH, professor of epidemiology and nutrition and chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School. The 30-member Sustainable Business Leadership Council, chaired by Arlin Wasserman, principal and founder of Changing Tastes, is comprised of senior food industry executives and culinary professionals as well as eminent investors, philanthropists, and entrepreneurs.
“Menus of Change represents an unprecedented collaboration between leading scientists and the food sector to integrate optimal, science-based nutrition and environmental guidance into our food choices,” Willett says. Wasserman adds, “The ongoing Menus of Change initiative will help the food industry innovate and adopt new business models and strategies that better anticipate the convergence of these key mega-trends and issues.”
The conference will feature the release of the initiative’s first annual report that includes a scorecard to evaluate the food sector and culinary professionals’ progress on vital issues at the intersection of public health, the environment, and business. Titled "Menus of Change—Converging Decisions that Promote the Health of People, the Planet, and Business," the report will provide chefs and executives with guidance on how to achieve greater success over the next three to five years. “In addition, the Menus of Change report will most surely spark fresh thinking among entrepreneurs developing next-generation concepts, and help inform how we teach our students as they prepare for careers that may stretch to 2050.”
This groundbreaking leadership initiative is open to professionals in the culinary, food, and food service sectors; the investment community; and leaders in the academic and NGO sectors who collectively shape the food choices of millions of Americans every day. While other conferences often consider food/culinary, health, sustainability, and business issues separately, Menus of Change will allow attendees to see the whole picture—the flavor customers want, the health-promoting foods and beverages they need, and the social responsibility they expect from today’s corporations and business leaders.