Detailed Program Schedule

Sunday, June 4

12:00 PM Registration & Refreshments

Campus Center Auditorium

1:55 PM Welcome and Opening Remarks

Campus Center Auditorium


  • Ken Toong (Executive Director, Auxiliary Enterprises, UMass Amherst)
  • Garett DiStefano (Director, Residential Dining Services, UMass Amherst)

2:10 PM Opening General Session I

Campus Center Auditorium

The Power of Culinary Innovation
For the past 15 years, Chef Gerry Ludwig has conducted intensive, street-level culinary research involving live visits to hundreds of leading-edge restaurants in America’s largest trend driving cities. This annual exercise frequently enables him to identify new and innovative culinary concepts in their earliest stages, and his most recent round of research was no exception.
In this fast-paced and highly visual session, Chef Gerry will identify and discuss newly discovered culinary ideas that possess strong potential to further innovate campus dining menus. Of particular focus will be concepts that expand the growing convergence of healthy dining with bold, craveable flavor treatments.
Speaker: Gerry Ludwig, CEC (Corporate Consulting Chef, Culinary R&D, Gordon Food Service, Grand Rapids, MI)

2:50 PM Industry Presentation

Campus Center Auditorium

3:10 PM General Session III

Campus Center Auditorium

The Power of…Better & More Food
Some of the major issues confronting the food industry are the quality of food produced and the amount available at a price we can afford. Today’s campus dining has become an incubator to test solutions addressing these challenges. Through this session, Rafi will share insight into how food service and in particular campus dining operations, may provide practical solutions. The true power of food lies in the strategic collaboration among key stakeholders.
Speaker: Rafi Taherian (Associate Vice President of Yale Hospitality, New Haven, CT)

3:40 PM Refreshment and Networking Break

Campus Center Auditorium

3:55 PM Culinary Demonstrations I

Campus Center Auditorium

Eat My Compost
Join Chef Jehangir as he prepares a dish stressing on food waste and food insecurity.
Chef: Jehangir Mehta (Chef/Owner Graffiti, Me & You, New York, NY)

The Power of Flavor: Lessons from a Learning Kitchen
How to evoke the power of taste and smell among your students, and create healthy, lifelong curiosity about flavor that leads to sustained engagement in eating, cooking and farming.
Chef: Olivia Wu (Author, Chef, Journalist, Teacher Health Counselor, Mountain View, CA)

The Importance of Rice in Southern Cooking
In this demo Chef Virginia Willis will explore the importance of rice in Deep South cooking and its natural connection to seafood. She will also demonstrate how to prepare two classic rice dishes from opposite ends of the South: Seafood Jambalaya and Crispy Rice Waffles.
Chef: Virginia Willis (Chef and Cookbook Author, Atlanta, Georgia)

Thai Food for Life
Chef: Chai Siriyarn (Chef/Owner of Marnee Thai Restaurant, San Francisco, CA)

5:45 PM Networking Break

6:00 PM Cutthroat Event Round I (with Chef Jet Tila and 4 contestants)

Opening Reception
Campus Center 11th Floor

The high adrenaline chef-off is back! The format of this competition is modeled after two popular Food Network television series. Much like the format of “Chopped,” four competing chefs are challenged to transform a mystery basket of four ingredients into an entrée dish with minimal time to plan and execute. Dishes will be judged on creativity, presentation and taste. Similar to “Cutthroat Kitchen,” the competitors each start with $1000 Chef Dollars at the beginning of the round; through auctions, they each can purchase opportunities to sabotage the others to benefit themselves. While watching the competition, you can taste the dishes that guest chefs demonstrated and prepared earlier in the afternoon.

7:30 PM UMass Pub

Campus Center 2nd Floor
Enjoy, relax, and network until 10:00 PM. Light reception. Beverages provided.