Food is Medicine and Food is Love

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.


22nd Annual Chef Culinary Conference

Food is Medicine and Food is Love
University of Massachusetts, Amherst June 5-10, 2016

Food is Medicine and Food is Love

For the 22nd consecutive year, the 2016 Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference will take place June 5 – 10th in the heart of the picturesque University of Massachusetts Amherst campus. This year, the Chef Culinary Conference will aim to accelerate foodservice concepts into the next generation – one that embraces health, sustainability, and food ethics, to meet the increasing diversity of consumer preferences. The 2016 conference will feature unique sessions hosted by the nation’s leading experts and innovators in their respective fields and, as always, will provide numerous presentations & workshops led by a variety of accomplished chefs.

Food can act like a powerful medicine that keeps us healthy or helps our body heal from sickness and disease, and even influences our moods. Beyond simply being a source of energy, good food is a source of special components, anti-oxidants and phytochemicals that can transform our health. Who among us has not benefited from a bowl of warm chicken soup when we are sick with a cold? Of course, if it was made especially for us with lots of love, it might help us get better even sooner than expected. Food has a powerful effect on our health and it rests on us, as operators and managers, to provide nourishment for our customers that will promote their good health.

There is a lot of confusion about what constituents a healthy diet. A group of the world’s leading nutrition  scientists  and food systems experts  with a range of viewpoints  met in November 2015, in Boston at Oldways Finding Common Ground Conference; they came to an agreement on eleven points of consensus about healthy eating fundamentals (

I was honored to be on a panel for this 2-day event and was glad to see that sustainability, social responsibility, animal welfare and food systems, were all made part of the consensus statement.  The outcome could help revolutionize the American diet as it now stands.

We in campus dining have been leading the pack when it comes to providing healthy choices for our students but we still have a long way to go. We believe a great dining program can have a positive impact on student’s nutrition and dining habits, and ultimately their academic performance. Our millennial diners, soon to be Gen Z, demand healthy cuisine which is rich with flavor, yet also embraces environmental responsibility. Our campus menus are increasingly more reflective of food from every corner of the globe – Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Mediterranean – and our customers are drawn to the bolder and assertive flavors that stem from a broad range of cultures. Chefs are the gateway to good food for all. Incorporating the consensus from the Finding Common Ground Conference, our theme Food is Medicine and Food is Love, will provide you with the tools and the inspiration to create dishes that will entice a generation of diners in search of something new, healthy, sustainable, and delectable. We want food to be a vehicle that creates excitement, builds community, and offers great value. Together, we can be on a mission to change the way we eat.

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.

We are happy to announce that Alice Waters, a visionary pioneer of the sustainable food movement with be our keynote speaker and will spend the entire day with us. No doubt, she will inspire us all.

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 invite you to join us as we explore this year’s theme, Food is Medicine and Food is Love. Learn with us, explore the flavors that will to define campus dining, and add your input for 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.

Please visit this site often as it will be updated regularly. Mark your calendar and plan to register early, as many of the events become “sold out” as time approaches the conference date. We look forward to seeing you in June!

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