This past May, Kendall College hosted the first-ever International Foodservice Sustainability Symposium. Created by Kendall College and Railing & Associates, the event was made possible by the support of the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts and the National Restaurant Association Conserve Education and Recognition Program.
Nearly 100 people from the foodservice industry, all interested in hearing the world’s leading experts tackle today’s most complex issues in sustainability, attended this exciting two-day event. It kicked off at Kendall College with a keynote address by Dr. Fred Kirschenmann, a pioneer in sustainable farming who served on the National Organic Standards Board and helped write the standards for certified organics. His presentation about the evolution of agriculture set the foundation of knowledge for the conference. That evening, guests were treated to a gourmet, sustainable dinner at Kendall College prepared by Chef Benjamin Browning, executive chef of The Dining Room at Kendall College, and his talented team of culinary arts students.
The following day started at the Hotel Allegro with an address by Julian Cribb, the Australian author of The Coming Famine, who talked about the confluence of sustainability issues that could portend a worldwide famine of cataclysmic proportions by 2050. He said, “At this point, there is no method of agriculture that is sustainable. If we are to avert this famine, we must work cooperatively to develop a wholly new system to meet the world’s growing nutrition needs. It can be done, but is the greatest challenge faced by mankind in the last 10,000 years.”
This was followed by a lively discussion on what some of those solutions might be. Led by Roger Beachy, the first director of the USDA National Institute of Food & Agriculture, he was joined on the panel by Julian Cribb and Kassia Perpich with the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.
In addition, there were a number of break-out sessions, featuring nationally known experts on recycling and composting, energy and water conservation, new technologies in commercial kitchen equipment, green building and kitchen design, and leveraging your commitment to sustainability to grow your business.
Initial feedback from the event has been very positive. Planning is beginning now for next year’s event, which is expected to occur in the fall of 2012.