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Highlights from the Beard Foundation’s Future of Food Conference


Panelists at the 2015 James Beard Foundation Conference, clockwise from top: 1) Leah Jones and Mike Lee. 2) Monterey School District’s Stephanie Lip. 3) Tulane’s Tim Harlan, MD, in conversation with Duke University’s Gary Bennett, MD. 4) Fortune journalist Beth Kowitt chats with Campbell’s CEO Denise Solomon.

Early on in Day 1 of the 2015 James Beard Foundation Conference (subtitled “Rethinking the Future of Food”), the moderator asked a question that could have served as a thesis statement for discussion that followed: “What’s the future you WANT to create? Can we co-create a meal of the future that we can attain?”

Panelists drawn from all segments of the food industry — physicians, activists, nutritionists, entrepreneurs and CEOs, among others — spent the day answering variations on that question. What follows are some (very selective) highlights.

How I Got a James Beard Grant to Work at Matt Jennings’ Townsman

Courtney Segal '15 in the Boston, Mass., kitchen of Townsman with chef-owner Matthew Jennings. Photo: Matt Jennings

When Courtney Segal ‘15 first heard about the James Beard Foundation Women in Culinary Leadership (WICL) Grant, an accelerated mentorship and training program for women in food service, she knew immediately that she had to go for it.

Applicants were asked to choose one or all from a list of renowned chefs. Again, this baking & pastry grad didn’t hesitate to pick her two favorites: Momofuku Milk Bar, Christina Tosi’s pastry juggernaut, and Townsman, Matt Jennings’ new Boston brasserie.

A few short months later, Courtney found herself in the Townsman kitchen, working alongside Jennings and his crew.