Roger Smith #FoodTech Conference – Summary by Andrew Smith

Screenshot 2014-04-17 16.18.49The Roger Smith Hotel began hosting conferences on cutting-edge culinary topics in 2010. The chosen focus of the 2014 conference was the wide spectrum of interactions between food and technology, both past and present. Announcements of the program and a call for papers went out in the fall of 2013, with most suggestions for workshops and panels having been received by November.

The final program included 133 presenters from all regions of the United States and seven nations. Five workshops were held on April 3. They covered topics including the analysis of historic or modern cookbooks for clues to the state of food-related technology organized by Barbara Ketcham Wheaton; the processing of chocolate from cacao organized by Rodney Snyder; an olive oil tasting that explored crucial variations in production and handling methods organized by Nancy Harmon Jenkins; the use of social media for food writers organized by Adam Salomone and Bruce Shaw; and an introduction to crowdfunding for food businesses organized by Jackie Gordon.

(see bottom of post for videos and audio recordings)


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The 31 panels, held on April 4 and 5, focused on a broad range of historic, contemporary, and futuristic subjects. Among the issues discussed were genetically modified foods, biotechnology, 3-D printing, “smart” appliances, food fermentation, the wine/terroir relationship, kitchen design and appliances, radio and television food programs, culinary apps, knife technology and use, industrial-scale farming, urban farming, food transportation, and compliance with religious precepts governing food. The complex, demanding technologies involved in bread-making, olive oil pressing, and cake-making received special attention. All panels were audio- or videotaped, and can be accessed at the conference website at no cost.

Notable presenters included culinary writers Molly O’Neill, Nancy Harmon Jenkins, and Edward Behr; modernist chef Wylie Dufresne, food scientist Larissa Zhou, chocolate expert Rodney Snyder, the chief architect of Mars, Inc.’s American Heritage Chocolate program; and acclaimed culinary historians Laura Shapiro, Charles Perry, Barbara Haber, Bruce Kraig, Maricel E. Presilla, Linda Civitello, Andrew Coe and Ken Albala.

International participants included Jill Adams and Barbara Santich from Australia; Kristian Bjørkdahl from Norway; Nihal Bursa, Priscilla Mary Isin, Banu Özden and Aylin Öney Tan from Turkey; Richard C. Delerins from France; and Jane Levi from the United Kingdom.

On the evening of April 4, the conference organizers presented the annual Roget Award to Geoffrey Drummond, who was the executive producer for many of Julia Child’s television programs and other TV food series, and is now a developer of culinary apps (for instance, the recently released “Baking with Dorie”).

For Mr. Drummond’s acceptance speech, conference presenters’ bios, and more information about the program, please visit the conference website:

Conference organizers included Roger Horowitz, Cathy Kaufman, Anne Mendelson, and Andrew F. Smith; the conference administrator was Nancy Selden and conference advisor Cara De Silva.

We are deeply grateful for our sponsors. These include:

American Heritage Chocolate
Edible Magazine
Fare Trade
Nar Gourmet
Heritage Radio Network
Kind Bars
Skinny Eats
The Harvard Common Press
The Julia Child Foundation
Umbra Institute
Vinkara Wines
Whole Foods


Andrew F. Smith
Author, Historian, and Food Studies Professor

Videos (Solarium Friday & Saturday)

Click here for Friday playlist

Click here for Saturday playlist


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