Walter Robb Joins EXPO’s Enlightening Lineup
by Bob Benenson, FamilyFarmed
FamilyFarmed’s 15th Anniversary Good Food EXPO is the essential event for everyone who supports a better food system — business leaders, entrepreneurs, producers, buyers, sellers, investors and the general public — from the start of its Good Food Trade Show on Friday, March 22, to the end of its free Good Food Festival on Saturday, March 23.
Walter Robb, the former co-CEO of the Whole Foods Market company and longtime supporter of the EXPO, has been added to the Friday morning Opening Symposium lineup. He will participate in a presentation at which Luke Saunders of Farmer’s Fridge, one of Chicago’s fastest-rising Good Food companies, will receive FamilyFarmed’s annual Good Food Business of the Year Award. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also has been invited to participate in that presentation.
[Read more about Farmer’s Fridge on FamilyFarmed’s Good Food News.]
The EXPO — the Midwest’s premier annual event focused on locally and sustainably produced food — is presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois and will take place at the Isadore and Sadie Dorin Forum on the campus of University of Illinois at Chicago.
Tickets for the Friday Good Food Trade Show — which include admission to the Networking Reception and Chef of the Year ceremony honoring Jason Hammel — can be purchased here. The Saturday Good Food Festival is free, but pre-registration is requested.
[Read more about Jason Hammel, farm-to-table pioneer and co-founder of the Pilot Light food education program on Good Food News.]
The schedule for the Friday Opening Symposium (of which the Good Food Business Award is part) includes an address by Dave Donnan — longtime senior partner and global food and beverage lead for the A.T. Kearney management consulting firm — on how the Good Food landscape has changed since the first EXPO in 2004; a panel on Finding New Markets, featuring leaders from top Good Food distribution companies; an address by Mitchell Davis, chief strategy officer for the James Beard Foundation, on the enduring relevance of farm-to-table; and the annual Farmer of the Year ceremony by the Routes to Farm local farming coalition.
Panels at the Friday Good Food Trade Show underscore that all the benefits attributed to Good Food start at the farm.
Topics include regenerative agriculture (sustainable practices that build soil health while capturing carbon to slow climate change), the renaissance in hemp production (as legal restrictions fall), converting farmland to organic from conventional production, bringing more farm-to-table sourcing to restaurants, growing better grain, and Chicago’s role as an urban agriculture center.
FamilyFarmed also plays a key role in connecting entrepreneurs with buyers, investors, mentors and consumers through programs such as its Good Food Accelerator and Market Development. Panels on growing Good Food businesses will discuss women leaders in the Good Food sector, Chicago’s growing community of food business incubators and accelerators, how businesses get grocery shelf space to sell products, and the all-important matter of raising capital.
The Friday Networking Reception kicks off the EXPO’s popular culinary program. Jason Hammel of Lula Cafe — celebrating its own 20th anniversary — and his newer hit, Marisol at the Museum of Contemporary Art, will do a demo and receive the 2019 Good Food Chef of the Year Award.
Jason, named Chicago Chef of the Year at the 2019 Jean Banchet Awards in January, follows in the footsteps of the previous Good Food Chef winners: Rick Bayless of Frontera restaurants (2014), Paul Fehribach of Big Jones (2015), Paul Kahan of One Off Hospitality (2016), Christine Cikowski and Joshua Kulp of Honey Butter Fried Chicken (2017), and Sarah Grueneberg of Monteverde (2018).
The Saturday Good Food Festival then returns with the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Chefs at Play Stage. The chef demo lineup includes Joe Flamm of Spiaggia, fresh off his win in Bravo TV’s Top Chef: Season 15; Erling Wu-Bower of One Off Hospitality’s Pacific Standard Time, one of Chicago’s most highly regarded new restaurants; Sandra Holl of Floriole, winner of the 2016 Jean Banchet Award for best baker, who will present on stage with Purple Asparagus, a program that brings lessons about food to Chicago schoolchildren; and David Miller of Baker Miller restaurant and bakery, an advocate of using and milling locally and sustainably produced artisan grains.
The Festival also reprises another popular feature: Good Food is Good Medicine panels about the powerful connections between food and health. Topics include The Doctor is In; Food and Mood; Good Food Leadership: Eating Our Way to a Healthier Chicago; Healthy Food, Healthy Families; The Road to Wellness Is Paved With Good Food; and The ABCs of CBD.
The family-friendly Festival also features The Kids’ Corner presented by Purple Asparagus. The Organic Valley Good Food Commons is back for the backyard do-it-yourselfers, as is the popular Test Your Soil! conducted by the University of Illinois in conjunction with Advocates for Urban Agriculture.
And attendees will again enjoy the opportunity to meet many of the Midwest’s leading farmers and food product companies at the Good Food Marketplace, open both days of the Good Food EXPO.
Tickets for the Friday Trade Show are now on sale; registration for the free Saturday Good Food Festival is requested. Please visit goodfoodEXPO.org for more information. UIC’s Isadore and Sadie Dorin Forum is located at 725 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago.
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