UMass Amherst Hosts Chef Culinary Conference

AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst is hosting the 13th annual “Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference” for campus food services June 11-15. The event focuses on three key factors in campus dining: flavor, wellness and sustainability. Conference events will be held at the Campus Center and Berkshire Dining Commons.

Event organizer Ken Toong—director of dining and retail services at UMass Amherst—says the conference will include presentations by well-known chefs and food experts. These include nutritional science researcher and author Marion Nestle of New York University, Frank Hu of Harvard University, celebrity chef Susur Lee, cookbook author Mollie Katzen, master chef trainer John Ash, PBS chef and author Joanne Weir and chef Jet Tila. In addition, three well-known chefs in their respective global cuisine, Suvir Saran on food of India, Roberto Santibanez on Mexican cooking, and Mai Pham on Southeast Asian cuisine will make presentations.

Other guests include Joan Lang, the leading researcher in trends and August Schumacher, a Massachusetts native and former U.S. Under Secretary of Agriculture who is currently a consultant to W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Members of the faculty at Johnson and Wales University and The Culinary Institute of America will share their knowledge and oversee many workshop sessions and demonstrations.

Toong says the conference educational programs have expanded this year. There are seven small group hands-on production sessions of three hours each to give attendees a real feel of working with famed chefs, he says. The sessions cover various topics: making sushi, healthy cooking, Indian cooking, Mexican cuisine, simple contemporary food, pastry artistry and the Mediterranean diet.

Conference workshops will feature Latin American and Spanish cuisines. The conference will also examine sustainability and explore the award-winning catering at Harvard and Stanford universities. In addition, the event will host the popular and expanded ACF-sanctioned hot food and baking team competitions (16 teams this year).