The local angle at MenuDirections

Published in FSD Update

FoodService Director's 12th annual conference to feature two Charlotte speakers.

During the past few years, we have documented numerous examples of the whole “locavore” movement, as foodservice operators attempt to reduce their carbon footprints and bring more fresh food to their customers. Call it what you will—farm to fork, farm to table, pathway to plate—the movement is here to stay.

Well, the idea of embracing the local angle hasn’t been lost on the FoodService Director team. We’ve even employed a version of it for our MenuDirections conference next month. Our opening and closing speakers both have connections to Charlotte, the host city for MenuDirections 2014.

Pamela Allison, Ph.D., is set to open the conference with a presentation entitled “What’s Wrong With Culinary Education?” Dr. Allison is the interim chair of The Hospitality College at Johnson & Wales University’s Charlotte campus. But she is not going to trash her employer; she’s actually going to talk about how culinary schools have generally missed the boat when it comes to promoting non-commercial foodservice as a career path for students and what schools like Johnson & Wales are doing to work more closely with non-commercial operators.

Dr. Allison has been at the university for the past two years and has taught classes in event management and strategic management. A graduate of the University of Central Florida, she has also taught at her alma mater and Syracuse University and has worked for the Walt Disney Co. and Universal Studios.

Bookending the conference as our closing speaker will be Chris Ivens-Brown, vice president of culinary development for Compass Group, which is headquartered in Charlotte. He will be sharing his opinions of the food trends he believes are destined to have the biggest impact on non-commercial foodservice.

Chef Ivens-Brown is a native of the United Kingdom, but he has been a fixture in Charlotte long enough to have become a local celebrity chef. He is also no stranger to MenuDirections, having both presented at our conference and served on our MenuDirections advisory board.

Chef Ivens-Brown's passion, besides food, is sustainability, which will no doubt become clear in his presentation. He has made it his mission to educate the foodservice industry, as well as home cooks, about simple and effective methods for cooking and eating fresh, seasonable and sustainable foods. He currently is writing a book on the topic, titled “Planet To Plate: Cooking for Change.”

We thought it was entirely appropriate, given our conference theme, “Satisfying a More Educated Customer,” to have as speakers two people whose jobs are education in nature. We hope that their thoughts will be insightful to our attendees, as well.

MenuDirections 2014 kicks off Feb. 23 at the Westin Charlotte and includes 15 different workshops, two vendor fairs, a culinary competition, our renowned Dine-Around and a keynote presentation by Chef Gerry Ludwig, consulting chef for Gordon Food Service Inc. We’ll also honor our 2013 FSDs of the Month and announce the FSD of the Year.

If you haven’t made plans to attend MenuDirections 2014, there’s still time to register. For more information, go to

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