IACP 2012 Launch Party

Last week the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) put on a mini-skirt and some glitter and hit the streets. Yes, the venerable organization is shaking things up on the road to their next national conference and I’m all for it. The first conference I attended was in Portland two years ago. It had a spectacular taste, deeply woven into the city and amped with great chefs and funky events. And still, in between the parties and panels, I yearned for the board to adopt more technology into their planning. I was among the youngest attendees, a glaring hole in their facade.  Plancast, Twitter, Foursquare- if IACP wanted to attract more people my age, I suggested they jump into the deep end.So my hopes were high for the next conference in Austin.

And I was let down. The week felt sleepy, it lacked the urgency and spunk of Portland. Sure, I made some great contacts in the food world (that is, after all, the main focus of attending these things), but I didn’t leave feeling terribly energized. Knowing the next conference would be in NYC I decided that would be the make or break conference for me.

If NYC improves upon the Portland formula, then I’ll continue my IACP membership. If, on the other hand, it follows in the footsteps of Austin, then this will be my last year in the organization.

Bringing the event to NYC is important for so many obvious reasons. And for the less obvious? NYC is the place to weave IACP into a younger food culture. Time to pick up more digital entrepreneurs, time to change the game.

For too long IACP has been focused on presenting “the book deal” as the pinnacle of our work as food professionals. Yes, I love cookbooks. They are beautiful transcriptions of life lived around the world. And I almost never use them. I’d rather have my iPad in the kitchen with me, looking through my collection of recipes or searching for things online.

It seems to me that most attendees have websites and twitter handles at the urging of publishers and agents. IACP members are told, repeatedly, that having an online presence is key to building the audience necessary for that elusive book deal. But what about looking at digital projects as more than means to various ends?

Why don’t we examine the value of digital food interaction as an end in and of itself?

Now back to the glitter and heels:
IACP launched with a party at Santos Party House last week. I didn’t know what to expect, would it be Austin all over again or Portland-inflected?

I was not let down. It seems everyone is rallying around this conference, within and without. The planning committee has lined up some big-ticket speakers and peeled back the curtain around some of NYC’s most coveted food businesses. And to top it off, this year our awards show (usually a despairing evening) will be hosted by Mo Rocca. Watch the video above to hear more from the team in charge. I’m excited.

Will you be there?