Chef Martin Yan and Food Network Celebrity Chef Jet Tila Headline 24th Annual Chef Culinary Conference at UMass Amherst

Chef conference logo

AMHERST, Mass. – World famous master chef Martin Yan will return to UMass Amherst with chef Tony Wu to demonstrate the art of noodle pulling, part of the 24th annual Taste of the World Chef Culinary Conference, June 3-8. Sharing the spotlight will be Food Network celebrity chef Jet Tila who will host a three-day Iron Chef Competition, plus numerous other leaders in the food service industry during the six-day annual event.

Ken Toong, executive director of Auxiliary Enterprises at UMass Amherst, has a reputation for bringing together diverse groups of forward thinking individuals tackling issues affecting the food service industry. This year will aim to bring food service concepts into the next generation—one that embraces nutrition, sustainability, and food ethics, to meet the increasing diversity of consumers’ preferences.

“We’re living in the midst of a food revolution,” says Toong. “While there is a growing demand for healthy, sustainable and delicious cuisines, there are also global food concerns like climate change, obesity, and rising health care costs that we need to take into consideration.”

This year’s theme, “Food Forward: Embracing the changing landscape of food,” will have attendees exploring the flavors that will define campus dining, now and well into the future. Conference participants hail from across the nation and Canada including Yale, Harvard and Stanford universities.

Featured presenters include:

Eric Rimm, professor of epidemiology and nutrition and director of the program in cardiovascular epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School.

Will Harris, a leader in humane animal husbandry and environmental sustainability.

Barton Seaver, a chef, public health educator and sustainable seafood advocate.

P. Simran Sethi who was named the environmental “messenger” by Vanity Fair magazine and designated one of the top eight women saving the planet by Marie Claire magazine.

Eric Decker, professor and head of the department of food science at UMass Amherst.

Casey Cox, executive director of the Georgia Association of Conservation Districts and the Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District.

Also taking place in conjunction with the chef conference is the Auxiliary/Food Service Director Symposium. Presenters, speakers and discussions will focus on the challenges faced in elevating the identity, impact and influence of auxiliary and dining programs as vital core components of the campus life experience. Speakers will include Bruce Weinberg, professor and chair of the marketing department, Isenberg School of Management, UMass Amherst; Penny Cox, associate vice president for administration, University of Kentucky; Enobong (Anna) Branch, associate chancellor for equity and inclusion, UMass Amherst; Steve Mangan, senior dining director, University of Michigan; Robert Holden, associate vice president of auxiliary services, University of Georgia, and Rafi Taherian, associate vice president, Yale University Dining.

The Chef Culinary Conference is regarded as the premier gathering for high-volume food service operators and campus chefs for both in class teaching and hands-on environment, and is limited to 350 participants. For more information regarding the conference, including registration, visit or