Bill Laychur, corporate executive chef at Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pa., will never forget one of the first panels he attended at MenuDirections.
“I believe it was on low-fat salad dressing, and the presenter was demoing a dressing made with a blender. The [electric] breaker to the blender went off, and they started flicking breakers in the back while the presenter removed the blender lid. The next thing you know, they flicked the right breaker, and the blender came back on and the presenter got a shower, along with everybody in the front row.”
The snafu must not have bothered Laychur too much, because he went on to attend MenuDirections 13 more times since it began 16 years ago. The annual conference put on by FoodService Director serves up the latest culinary trends and strategies to noncommercial operators. While the conference is geared toward every segment in the noncommercial industry and gains new attendees each year, Laychur says the conference still has a sense of intimacy.
“I find MenuDirections to be unique in that it is a smaller conference. People are very upfront and the presenters are your peers,” says Laychur. “They have people come in from segments that I can relate to.”
Going forward, FSD Vice President and Publisher Bill Anderson says that MenuDirections attendees can expect the same culinary-focused panels and demonstrations, with the incorporation of more data and technology-based ideas.
“We’re going to add more data and research from Technomic that supports these culinary trends and incorporate more technology and equipment ideas that help you achieve culinary goals,” Anderson says.
The one thing that will not change, however, is the intimacy.
“People love the intimacy,” Anderson says. “We’re going to evolve while keeping the networking and the intimacy that we’re known for.”