Little else is more inspiring than being in a room surrounded by people who are living their dreams and doing what it is that you hope to one day do, which is exactly what happened at the Spoon University Brainfood NYC 2016!
Brainfood NYC is a day-long conference put on by the good folks over at Spoon University – the go-to food website for college students and millienials all over the world. Now in its third year, the purpose of this conference is to educate, inspire, and connect the next generation of food lovers with those who in the industry who are doing it best.
The first talk of the day was titled “Food Marketing – Yesterday and Today” with Lisa Mann, CEO of Think Marketing Advisors, and one of the brains behind the “You can still dunk in the dark” Oreo tweet during the infamous 2013 Superbowl blackout. She let us know that in order to be a great marketer you’ve got to do three things:
- Know your consumer
- Know the cultural zeitgeist of your consumer
- Define, Build, and Defend your brand
But most of all, “Trust your gut!”
Next up was the, “How Social Media Changed the Way We Eat”, panel with Ken lo (co-founder of the LES ice cream shop serving one-of-a-kind ice cream, Ice & Vice), Mackenzie Kruvant (Buzzfeed), Liz Kennedy (Content Strategist at Fresh Direct), Hillary Reinsberg (Editorial Direction of The Infatuation), Steve Klein (co-owner of the awesome doughnut shop, Dough – that also provided us with breakfast), and the man who helped create the ever popular @Foodbabyny (both the baby – who is more of a food “toddler” now – and the food Instagram account), Mike Chau.
I’m sure you’ve all witnessed, at least once in your life, someone pulling out their phone to take a photo of the food they’re about to consume (guilty as charged), which, at first, irked Ken at Ice & Vice being that it seemed like people cared more about getting that perfect Instagram shot instead of for the food, itself. He soon came to realize, however, that “evolving with the industry” was a must and understood that his ice cream can be both visually appealing to attract this social media crowd while also being delicious.
Next followed one of my favorite panels of the day: “Not Another Food Publication!” with Jane Frye (the Managing Editor of Tasting Table), Ariel Lauren (Digital Editor of Edible), Helen Hollyman (Editor-in-Chief of Munchies), and Brette Warshaw (COO of Lucky Peach). It was so inspiring to see women who are not only dominating the food media world, but also kicking ass at it. They told us what it takes to stand out in the food writing industry and also left us with a few morsels of advice like, “Don’t be afraid to speak up and use the resources you have.” (Jane Frye). I couldn’t agree more!
Despite wanting to stay until the very end, I left this panel about 5 minutes early to beat the lunch rush (and because hunger was calling) and I have no regrets because the lunch options were amazing!
There were fruits, vegetables, and salads from Dig Inn, some delicious grilled corn with chipotle mayo and cotija cheese from Tacombi, Indian grain bowls from Inday, meatballs from The Meatball Shop, and for dessert, a make-your-own chocolate-dipped pretzel station by Fatty Sundays and cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes. There was more food than I could possibly ever consume, but that didn’t a girl from at least trying!
With hunger at bay, one of the most anticipated parts of the day – facilitated by Kerry Diamond (founder of Cherry Bombe Magazine) – was the “How to Make a Job For Yourself in Food” panel with James Briscione (Director of Culinary Development at ICE), Dorothy Cann Hamilton (CEO of ICC), Jordan Andino (owner of the restaurant 2nd City) and Kim Lerner (Community Manager of the food job website Culinary Agents). Where, once upon a time, the restaurant used to be one of the only places to work if you wanted to be within the culinary world, James said, “The restaurant in not the end of the story…you can tie food into whatever your passion is.”
Some of my favorite bits of advice came from Dorothy, however. Having years of experience in the industry, and toting a wealth of knowledge, one of the first questions she asked the audience was how many of us knew what a Pommes Soufflé (answer: not many). She says that in order to stand out, “Show that you know technique” as well as “a deeper knowledge of chefs.” In order to appreciate the future of food, we’ve also got to appreciate its past, so I am definitely going to start brushing up even more.
There was so much more squeezed into the day including a panel on “Where the F&*k Does My Food Come From?” that taught us more about sustainability and how to reduce food waste and another panel dedicated to microgreens (did you know that there are plants that taste like oysters, green apples, and wasabi??)
The day just flew by and before I knew it it was over! I met some pretty cool folks, learned a ton, and walked away with a full belly and awesome gift bag full of treats. What could be better than that?
So, thanks again, Spoon University for an amazing day!
Until next year!