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Drexel’s Philly Chef Conference Continues to Draw Big Names and Even Bigger Ideas

February 20, 2020

Person in a Philly Chef Conference t-shirt holding a tray of food

For the past seven years, the Philly Chef Conference has been bringing big names to Drexel University’s campus to lead conversations on big ideas that will shape the food and hospitality industry. Hosted by Drexel’s Food and Hospitality Management Department in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, this year’s conference, held March 1-2, is no different.

The annual conference assembles regional and national food and hospitality experts – top chefs, food producers and personalities – to showcase the latest food and beverage trends and techniques through educational lectures, panel discussions and demonstrations, linking established food and hospitality professionals with aspiring students and young industry professionals.

Audience watching a panel discussion at the Philly Chef Conference

Sessions are food-focused, academic- and career-minded – from food science and sustainable practices to diversity in the kitchen – in hopes of preparing chefs to face an ever-evolving set of challenges in the industry.

“The Philly Chef Conference continues to bring the best and brightest in the culinary world to our campus,” said Michael Traud, JD, EdD, a professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions and the organizer of the conference. “This year’s line-up is no different – inspiring the next generation of industry professionals to face challenges and issues that are untraditional, experimental and impactful.”

The many speakers will lead sessions on food topics like recipe development, pasta, wine and cocktails, as well as trending industry topics like sustainability, waste management and diversity.

Philly Chef Conference attendees sitting in a crowd watching a presentation

On Sunday, food scientist Arielle Johnson will moderate they day’s speakers on a variety of topics, including sustainability, food and memory and the combination of art and science in coffee. Attendees will hear from Anthony Myint, a chef using cooking to tackle climate change, and Jack Benchakul, a biologist turned coffee chemist, among others.

On Monday, sessions vary from panel discussions and conversations to demonstrations. Attendees can learn about the road ahead for diversity in the kitchen from industry stars like Claudette Zepeda and Eric Adjepong – both former “Top Chef” contestants; see demonstrations from rising stars like J.J. Johnson; and hear from one of Denmark’s best chefs, Bo Bech, on using travel as an inspiration.

Other panelists include Philadelphia notables, like Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Greg Vernick, as well as multiple James Beard award nominees and winners. National food journalists and editors from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Eater, Esquire and GQ will round out the speakers to discuss hot topics, trends and challenges in the food industry.

Day one of the conference, Sunday, March 1, consists of the Academic Symposium at 10 a.m. and a live recording of Heritage Radio Network podcast at 10:30 a.m. in the Academic Building on Drexel’s campus (101 N. 33rd St., 6th Floor) with a reception later in the day, starting at 3:30 p.m. at the Study at University City. Day one is open to the public. Tickets to the Academic Symposium and live podcast recording are $25 each, while the reception is $50.

Day two of the conference, Monday, March 2, will be held at the Academic Building from 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. The second day is open to industry professionals only and will feature industry-specific demonstrations and discussions.

Food and beverage will be provided by Philadelphia-area businesses such as South Philly Barbacoa, Mike’s BBQ, Palizzi Social Club, Poi Dog, Federal Donuts, La Colombe, Rival Bros., Weckerly’s and more.

For the full list of participants and to purchase tickets, visit