The Power of Food

UMass's annual Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference is highly regarded as the premiere gathering for high-volume food service operators and campus chefs, to learn more about world cuisines and flavor trends in an engaging environment.


23rd Annual Chef Culinary Conference

The Power of Food
University of Massachusetts, Amherst June 4-9, 2017

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The Power of Food

Time flies when you’re having fun! Soon it will be time for the 23rd consecutive year of the Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference, from June 4th to 9th 2017, in the heart of the picturesque University of Massachusetts Amherst campus. This year, the Chef Culinary Conference will aim to assimilate foodservice concepts into the next generation – one that embraces nutrition, sustainability, and food ethics, to meet the increasing diversity of consumers’ preferences.

Food is a power and is powerful. It can remind us of our childhood and where we came from. Many of us have fond memories of mom’s cooking, seeing her prepare food, then eating together as family to share stories and learn from each other. Nowadays, food is more than just what goes on the table, it also encompasses sustainability, nutrition, food security and community. I like to call this food care. We care about the land and ocean, farmers and fisherman, how they grow the food and how they catch the fish. We care about the environment, about where the food comes from and those that feed us, we care about animal welfare, fair trade, how the food’s made, the ingredients we use and importantly how to make food taste delicious, with health in mind. As in many counties, issues of obesity, hunger, climate change, and food have become center stage, and we need to find solutions to food-related problems and take action, beginning with our individual operations.

Food has a powerful effect on everything we do. Our health, our community, our neighbors, our nation and our world. It rests on us, as operators, managers and the food community to use our own power surrounding food decisions, to make a difference. As an operator, we provide nourishment for our customers that will promote their good health, but more than this, we also provide an experience, and food literacy for our Gen Z and millennial diners that will surely influence them when they leave the haloed halls of academia.

UMass’s Annual Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference is highly regarded as the premiere gathering for high-volume food service operators and campus chefs, to learn more about world cuisines and flavor trends in an engaging environment. The conference will not only showcase the gold standards of college cuisines, but will also hone the culinary skills of attendees.

This year’s impressive entourage of experts includes leaders hailing from Johnson & Wales University and The Culinary Institute of America, all of whom will share their expertise and oversee a variety of workshop demonstrations and sessions. As always, the Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference will culminate with an ACF-sanctioned team competition, a favorite year after year. We are in the stage of finalizing our list of expert chefs and presenters, and will post the names in the near future.

We invite you to join us as we explore this year’s theme, The Power of Food. Learn with us, explore the flavors that will define campus dining, and add your input on how we should approach the dining experience now and well into the future. Full-program attendees will receive 3-4 UMass Continuing Ed credits and 28-30 ACF credits.

Attendance is limited to 350 participants including chefs, managers, manufacturers, farmers, media, and the like, so mark your calendar and register early, as many of the events will sell out as the spring approaches.

Ken ToongKen ToongKen Toong
Executive Director and Chair

Our Sponsors

"I’ve been fortunate to be apart of this conference for almost eight years. It only gets better each year. The caliber of Chefs and experts that Ken Toong assembles is unparalleled, the knowledge that attendees receive in the week at Umass can only be matched by traveling around the world. I’m looking forward to seeing new and familiar faces again this year."

− Jet Tila

"Taste of the World Chef Culinary Conference is a great conference. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn cuisine from chefs from all over the world. Ken and his culinary team do it right. This will be my seventh year and the conference continues to exceed expectations!"

− Greg Gefroh, University of North Dakota

"We look forward to the conference every year. From the culinary classes with world renown chefs, the culinary competition and the great hospitality of the UMass staff, I dare you to find a better conference that is reasonably priced"

− Craig Mombert, Davidson College

"The UMASS chef conference is the best conference that I have attended. I have been there the last 6 years and I have been lucky enough to have taken my daughter to the last few. She has gotten to meet chefs from all over the world and they have made a lasting impression on her and myself. I have learned more in the one week at his conference from the presenters and chefs from other schools. It is well worth the investment to send as many of your current chefs as you can. There are so many different hands on classes that you will want to have someone in each of them."

− Paul Nicolini, Penn State

"The Chefs’ Conference organized by UMass is the perfect venue for Chefs to get out of their comfort zones and really get back to the basics, great food! An outstanding event perfectly organized with great speaker and demonstrations. A must for all chefs."

− Oliver de Volpi I, McGill University