On the Ground- Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference 2017

Chef Ron DeSantis, Director of Culinary Excellence and Quality Assurance for Yale Dining, presenting about jackfruit and other underutilized edible plants. 

This week, the 23rd annual Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference hosted by UMass Dining has returned! The theme of this year’s conference is The Power of Food, which encompass all aspects of food, including nutrition, community, food security, and sustainability. The conference focuses on the unique power and influence that high-volume food service operators and campus chefs have on our flawed food system. Chefs have the power to make our food more fair, healthy, and sustainable through their tremendous purchasing power and their influence on the food choices of young consumers. The annual Chef Conference hopes to empower chefs to question norms and tradition, ask questions about where the food they are serving is coming from, and to push innovations in our food system forward one meal at a time. Hundreds of participants registered for the five day long conference, attending workshops, presentations, and competitions to improve their own culinary skills, waste reduction strategies, and sourcing practices. 

A beautiful diverse spread of dishes made by the chefs at the Taste of the World Chef Culinary Conference. 

One of the many notable presenters at the conference was Sheila Bowman, the Manager of Culinary and Strategic Initiatives at Seafood Watch. Seafood Watch is the leading source of science-based recommendations for seafood found in the U.S. Market. At the conference, Sheila Bowman spoke of the many challenges that our oceans are facing due to the high demand for certain species and unsustainable practices of the fishing industry. Per the United Nations, over 80% of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited, over-exploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion.  Bowman explained how important it is to know where the fish you are buying comes from, how it was caught, who caught it, and what condition that species’ stocks are in.  
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Check out Seafood Watch’s Recommendations to see what species of fish you should look for or avoid! 

Sustainable Alaskan Salmon, listed on the Seafood Watch Green List, served at UMass Berkshire Dining Commons. 

Thanks so much to everyone who attended this year’s conference for making it such a success! 
Be sure to check out the Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference next year from June 3rd – June 8th, 2018!    
Photos by Keith Toffling.