I start going through withdrawal if I don’t attend a trade show at least once a month so was thrilled to learn that the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) conference was held in San Francisco this year. This conference is like a  “Power To the Women in the food industry” event. It was about 95% women and all of them in the food industry, mostly the culinary, blogging, cookbook writing, recipe development segment. But all food scientists know how to find their own, so it was easy for me to seek out a few of my people, including Skip Julius from Sensient Flavors and Ali McDaniel, a food marketing manager from the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council.

Mustard Eclairs?

Mustard Eclairs- Better Than It sounds!

While there were no seminars on food microbiology or research in the latest flavor chemistry technologies- there was a strong presence of innovative food topics that showed up in the form of- “Examining the Divide Between Dirt and Digital” which explored the tension between traditional and innovation or more specifically- a copper pot versus the sous-vide circulator. Maxime Bilet, the co-author of Modernist Cuisine- was on this panel and he also spoke about the future of food. I was very proud of my friend Dave Hirschkop, founder of Dave’s Gourmet– who gave an informative seminar on bringing your product to market. Not the farmers market but the big supermarket for mass-produced food. He covered all the secret food industry procedures that will also be in my upcoming technical guide for start up food companies!

So while Maxime Bilet was discussing Sous Vide and explaining the inner workings of industrial starches- there were equal but opposite seminars on the joy of foraging your own mushrooms and the history of the iconic sour dough bread. It was like old meets new, rustic meets modern and … dirt meets digital…. Oh, NOW I get the title!! This conference was all about the two industry extremes and what happens when their world collides…. You basically get sous vide foraged mushroom foam!

As the dirt and digital battled it out, I escaped and attended some seminars on how to promote your book (since I just wrote an ebook myself) and left with one piece of information that I can’t wait to use- affiliate book selling! I can give every technical food writer I know a link to my book site and let them profit for every book that is bought via someone finding it on their site! I also spent some time in Dave’s session on bringing products to market and couldn’t help but share a few of my experiences with the group –I left with a few companies asking me for my card in case they ever need one of those “food science” people.

Other topics that I got to explore were “Pinterest” (social media involving pinning pictures to your own virtual bulletin board), how to get funding for your project from kickstarter and other crowd funding sites.

My last session was Dough In The Dark- A Late- Night Finance boot camp for freelancers.  I learned at this seminar that most freelancing food writers make about 39,000 a year- we were encouraged to ask for more money – so I tried it out the next day when the editor of a magazine assigned me a piece- I insisted that I could not possibly take the job for less than $50 dollars more than what he offered me.. and guess what, the editor caved and now I will be $50 dollars richer- so it pays to at least ask!

The IACP conference has some extravagant culinary events like the Culinary Expo sponsored by produce and retail product food companies (sort of like a mini Fancy Food show) and the Sunday night party- sponsored by local restaurants and food companies. I got to eat savory mustard eclairs (from Maille) and see endive growing out of its chicory root.

Next year I am hoping that I can present a seminar at IACP- maybe give my own technical talk on bringing a product to market or perhaps I could win an award for the best technical food guide written and self published in 2013! Stay tuned

About Rachel Zemser