Top TV Chefs to Join Renowned Research Scientists at 25th Annual Chef Culinary Conference at UMass Amherst

Food Network’s Andrew Zimmern and Jet Tila, “Top Chef” Kenny Gilbert headline six-day event
Andrew Zimmern
Andrew Zimmern
Jet Tila
Jet Tila
Kenny Gilbert
Kenny Gilbert

AMHERST, Mass.– Culinarians, top scientists, operators and manufacturers will come together at the University of Massachusetts Amherst June 9-14 to share their stories on reflecting on the past, embracing the present and anticipating the future of the food scene at the 25th Annual Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference.

Television personality, restaurateur and Food Network star Andrew Zimmern will headline an all-star lineup of chefs, scientists, academics and food service operators at the conference. Sharing the spotlight will be Food Network celebrity chef Jet Tila, who will host a three-day Cutthroat Kitchen Competition; Kenny Gilbert of “Top Chef” fame and personal chef to Oprah Winfrey; and numerous other leaders in the food service industry during the six-day event.

The Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference is widely known for bringing together diverse groups of forward-thinking individuals to tackle issues affecting the food service industry, says Ken Toong, executive director of auxiliary enterprises at UMass Amherst.

“The food scene is ever evolving,” Toong says, “and our goal is to serve the best possible food to our customers with attention to nutrition, sustainability, food ethics, authenticity and deliciousness, to meet the increasing diversity of our consumers’ preferences.”

The conference will host over 400 participants from across the U.S. and Canada, including many from major universities such as Yale, Harvard and Stanford.

Featured presenters include:

Dr. Alessio Fasano, chief of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition and director of the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Fasano also founded the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1996. He is also a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Frank Hu, chair of department of nutrition, Fredrick J. Stare Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He serves as co-director of the program in obesity epidemiology and prevention at Harvard and director of the Boston Nutrition and Obesity Research Center (BNORC) Epidemiology and Genetics Core.

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

Jody Adams, James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur of several successful ventures including Rialto, TRADE and Saloniki in Boston.

Michael Wu, one of the world’s premier authorities on artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, data science and behavioral economics. Wu is currently the chief AI strategist at PROS, an AI-powered solutions provider that helps companies optimize selling in the digital economy by creating personalized and frictionless buying experiences for their customers.

New at this year’s conference is the three-day nutrition track, which will focus on forging stronger partnerships between nutritionists, culinarians and dining operators on university campuses.

Also taking place in conjunction with the Chef Culinary Conference on Wednesday 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 and indispensable components of student success and the quality of campus life experience. This session is facilitated by Becky Schilling, editor-in chef of Food Management.

The Tastes of the World 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 workshops. For more information regarding the conference, including registration, visit or