University News

Alice Waters Returns for 2021 Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference

Conference to host 1,500 participants across the globe

AMHERST, Mass. – For the second time in as many years, the 27th annual Chef Culinary Conference will be hosted in a virtual format June 8-10, according to organizers at the University of Massachusetts.

NEWS-Culinary Conference 2021 2

This year’s theme – Riding the Momentum of Change – will incorporate elements of last year’s planetary and human health focus while exploring what the post-pandemic future might hold for college and university dining, food manufacturing, health and wellness and everything in between.

The longtime conference is widely known for bringing together diverse groups of forward-thinking experts to tackle issues affecting the food service industry now and beyond. Last year more than 1,300 registrants from 7 countries joined the three-day remote conference. Similar participation is expected this year as well.

This year’s conference will feature a robust three days of content (five hours per day) with over 40 speakers from multiple universities including Harvard University, Yale University, Columbia University, Cornell University, McGill, University of Washington and UMass Amherst, among others. Topics will include operations and strategic planning, health and wellness, sustainability, culinary excellence, innovation and communication; in addition, there will be several interactive workshops.

Ken Toong, UMass Amherst executive director of auxiliary enterprises and chair of the event is looking forward to another successful remote event saying, “If anything can be learned from the last 15 months, it’s that college and university dining is a team of resilient and dedicated people that adapt well to change. We will learn from a diverse group of people, across many disciplines, and see what the future may look like moving forward. I’m truly looking forward to connecting with our peers, riding the momentum of change and raising the bar of college dining together, while better serving our Gen Z customers.”

Similar to last year, participants from around the globe will gather on the Zoom platform to discuss how they can leverage their experience through the pandemic, to produce a truly memorable experience for their students in the Fall of 2021. Full details are on the website.

New this year will be several exciting panels including:

  • Campus Directors’ Panel from Around the Nation and Canada, featuring 12 directors
  • Incoming Student Panel Session
  • Campus Leaders Panel

The conference will also welcome back acclaimed chef, author and food activist Alice Waters for an in-depth conversation, on topics from flavorful, simple healthy food to regenerative agriculture, with UMass’ very own, and well-known chef and author, Joanne Weir.

Other highlights will include:

  • Three famed professors (M.D.s) from Harvard will talk about planetary health and nutrition, as well as the latest understanding of the microbiome and nutrition. 
  • Three campus leaders will talk about a newly transformed institution and building a more healthy and sustainable campus.
  • Two of the most highly cited food scientists in the world will discuss the present and future of food from their perspective.
  • Three presidents from the supply chain will discuss the state of the industry and how we can work together strategically.
  • A prominent professor of earth and space sciences will talk about climate change and a soil revolution to improve the health of our farmland soil.
  • A renowned professor of environmental health sciences from Columbia will talk about the climate, CO2 and nutrition.
  • 12 esteemed directors from the college and university segment will share thoughts on everything from their vision, best practices for planetary and human health; equity, diversity and inclusion; meal plan; culinary strategy and innovation; and campus life and the student experience.
  • A well-known marketer from the world’s largest food company will talk about Gen Z marketing for post-COVID momentum.
  • An award-winning journalist will discuss how to create lifelong healthy relationships with food.
  • Six interactive workshops will cover a variety of cuisines from Mediterranean, Latin and Indian, to Thai, plus plant-forward and plant-based.

The Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference is one of the premier gatherings for high-volume food service operators and campus chefs, with in-class teaching and hands-on workshops. For more information on the conference, including complimentary registration, visit: or