What do mountain climbing, auto racing and baking have in common? They’ll all come together at the American Society of Baking (ASB)’s BakingTech 2011 at Chicago, IL, USA, March 6-9. More than 1,200 baking professionals will gather at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile for the 87th conference, under the theme “Nourishing for Generations.” The conference will start after the BEMA Winter Summit, which will be held March 4-6 in the same hotel, ending at 2 p.m. BakingTech meetings will start early on Sunday, March 6, and the Officers’ Welcome Reception will start at 6:30 p.m. The ASB MarketPlace with exhibitor tabletops will be open 4 to 6 p.m. March 6-8 in the 7th-floor ballroom.

This year’s program will continue the momentum set by recent conferences, providing opportunities for networking, technical information and education. “A few years back, the ASB program was totally reinvented and has maintained a higher level of energy,” said Paul Lattan, 2011 Program Committee chairman and Baking & Snack publisher. “We will continue to raise the quality level of every aspect of this meeting from the keynote speakers and the technical papers to the entertainment and the networking opportunities to the conference overall.”

“ASB’s mission has always been centered around development and sharing of ideas that foster the good academic health of our industry and its members,” said Rowdy Brixey, 2010-11 ASB chairman and director of engineering at Bimbo Bakeries USA, Horsham, PA. “I believe that ASB has evolved into the hub that connects us to the opportunities.”

Ed Viesturs, a high-altitude adventurer and the first American to climb all 14 of the world’s 8,000-m peaks, will kick off Monday’s events with a keynote focusing on his story with a business tie-in. Mr. Viesturs’ presentation, “No Shortcuts to the Top,” will set the tone for the show, providing inspiration for attendees as they overcome the many challenges on the way to the summits of their business paths and careers. “I chose Ed Viesturs as•a keynote speaker because he has demonstrated goal setting and attainment, planning and execution, risk management, crisis management and ethics at the very•highest levels,” Mr. Lattan said. “I also share his passion for mountain climbing and the physical, mental and emotional benefits that it offers.”

Monday’s inspirations will continue after lunch with Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations for the IZOD IndyCar Series, Indianapolis, IN, with a focus on high-performance teams. Formerly a pit crew member and chief mechanic on Indy 500 entries, Mr. Barnhart knows a thing or two about team communication and performance under pressure. Attendees are sure to walk away with a better understanding of how to get through the challenges of high-intensity situations.

In an unprecedented move, Tuesday’s morning keynote will bring back a favorite of the 2010 BakingTech conference, Lowell Catlett, PhD. A Regent’s professor/dean and chief administrative officer at New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, Las Cruces, NM, Dr. Catlett is a futurist, econo- mist and comedian whose presentation last year earned him the title of “best speaker ever at ASB,” according to Mr. Lattan. Dr. Catlett is a consultant to the US Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Defense and Labor, but don’t let that stop you from getting up early on Tuesday morning to hear him speak. His humorous and engaging program will cover the state of the economy and trends affecting businesses today and offer insight on how to prepare for the year ahead.

Breakout sessions will begin Tuesday, March 8, at 1:30 p.m. with a session devoted to artisan and ethnic baking, a new focus for this year, covering topics including alternative dough mixing, freezer-to-oven techniques and flatbread technology. Alternatively, attendees can opt for the regulations and safety session, with topics including Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations on dust control, sanitary design and Safe Quality Food (SQF) certification. Also on offer during that time are sessions on operations and equipment — including new oven technologies, project management and preventive maintenance — and ingredients and formulation — including enzyme technology, salt reduction and fiber.

Wednesday, March 9, the meeting wraps up with a general session from Kevin Higar, director of Technomic, Inc., Chicago, IL, focusing on the trends in food service. Mr. Higar is responsible for consulting and research assignments for food and equipment manufacturers, trade associations, restaurant operators and other suppliers to the food service industry.

“BakingTech has become less formal and more fun,” said Kent Van Amburg, executive director of ASB. “Take advantage of the social and networking opportunities to meet new peers who can be a resource for learning about industry best practices.”

Registration for current ASB members is $425 for the full conference. For members not current on their membership dues and new members, the full conference pass is $610, and nonmembers can attend the full conference for $650. A reduced fee of $405 allows access to the MarketPlace, reception and luncheons, and attendees can purchase single-day passes for $275 for members and $325 for nonmembers. After Feb. 17, 2011, and for on-site registration, the fees will increase by $50. Members can register their spouses for access to the full conference, reception, Ladies High Tea and Monday luncheon for $60. Special hotel rates are available at the Chicago Marriott Downtown with prior registration only. Online registration is available at www.asbe.org?.

“I can think of no better place for self-improvement than ASB,” Mr. Brixey said. “Make yourself a more valuable commodity by attending, contributing and learning from some of this industry’s brightest minds. You’ll get as much as you give and many times much more. ‘Nourishing for Generations’ is more than a theme. Frankly, it’s what we do.”