Meeting Preview: BakingTech 2017

by Laurie Gorton
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The sculpture Cloud Gate, a.k.a. "The Bean" anchors Chicago's Millennium Park, a few blocks up the street from the Hilton Chicago where BakingTech 2017 will meet. 
 

Get ready for another cycle of “The Best Week in Baking” when BakingTech 2017 meets early next year. Set for Feb. 26-28 at the Hilton Chicago, the busy Sunday-through-Tuesday event organized by the Ameri­can Society of Baking (ASB) is expected to attract 1,300 industry professionals.

Mario Somoza, ASB chairman and president of Pan Pepin, Inc., Bayamon, PR, chose the 2017 theme to be “Diversity: It’s all in the mix!” Program Chair Clay Miller of Burford Corp. and his committee have assembled presentations about creativity, endurance, skills, training and talent retention to coordinate with technical sessions concerning enzymes, grains, flavors, food safety, equipment design and more.

“Speakers throughout the meeting will illustrate how diversity of thought, products, people and process can help the baking community exploit the opportunities available in today’s challenging environment,” Mr. Somoza said.

“BakingTech provides an exceptional venue with ample opportunities to network, learn and discuss the current and future challenges facing our industry,” he added. “No matter if you are a baker or a supplier, or what your responsibilities are — engineering, sales, production, human resources or any other — you will find valuable content at BakingTech 2017.”

In an always meaningful event, new members of the Baking Hall of Fame — Albert (Bud) Cason, Murray and Marvin Lender, and Joseph (Joe) Schwebel — will be inducted during the opening session on Feb. 27. Presentation of the Robert A. Fischer Award for outstanding service to the society is set for the next morning. Always kept secret from the recipient until announced, this annual award makes for an exciting ceremony. Recognition of members with 50 or more years of society participation takes place the same day.

The 2017 program committee organized the annual technical meeting with keynote speakers to open sessions that are followed by networking lunches and technical breakout meetings in the afternoon.

The Feb. 27 keynote speaker is Nathan Myhrvold, an entrepreneur, inventor, author and founder of The Cooking Lab. He is followed by Marjorie Hellmer of Cypress Research, who will update attendees about the skills gap now facing the baking industry and what’s being done to close it.

The general session on Feb. 28 opens with a keynote about the power of endurance given by Cedric King, US Army master sergeant. He ran the Boston Marathon just 21 months after losing both legs to an improvised explosive device during his second tour in Afghanistan.

Breakout sessions begin on Feb. 27 by examining training, ingredients and technology topics. The ­following day, these sessions will look at food and personnel safety, regulatory, social media and energy transfer. Among subjects to be discussed are work visas, clean-label challenges, sprouted grains, traceability and the Internet of Things.

The product development competition takes place during the afternoon of Feb. 28, and these presentations are open to all attendees. ASB recently reformatted the event into a scholarship program that will award up to $20,000 in annual grants to students in bakery science, food technology and other culinary arts.

Focus is given to the special interests of those starting their baking industry careers during a Feb. 26 afternoon education session featuring Dave Schwensen, author and talent coordinator. New ASB members will be welcomed that evening before the opening reception. There’s also an offsite evening event for young professionals that day at Buddy Guy’s Legends. A breakfast for students and alumni of the baking programs at Kansas State University and Florida State University is set for Feb. 27. It is followed by the Engineers Meeting that takes place before the opening general session.

ASB convenes its popular MarketPlace from 4 to 6 p.m. all three days. The Feb 26-27 gatherings include networking receptions starting at 5 p.m. Roughly 700 booths are planned, and the society is continuing its ASB Innovation Awards program for exhibiters.

In conjunction with ASB, BEMA will hold its Winter Summit on Feb. 25-26, also at the Hilton Chicago. It includes a BEMA-U session on Feb. 25 and a welcome reception that evening. The second day will offer a recap of the 2016 International Baking Industry Exposition, a BEMA customer panel and a luncheon with a keynote speaker and awards presentation.

Registration and housing are now open. Early reduced rates close on Jan. 13, 2017. Online and advance registration is available until Feb. 17; after that, fees increase by $100, including those for onsite signup in Chicago. MarketPlace-only, single-day and spouse registrations can be requested. The hotel offers a reduced room rate to attendees for reservations booked before Jan. 27. Check www.asbe.org for details.
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