…Or maybe yesterday (when the optional events started), or maybe tomorrow (when the conference agenda starts). Suffice it to say, the International Association of Culinary Professionals has come to town. The Tribune even rolled out the red carpet with an extensive “Insider’s Guide” to the Chicago dining scene, highlighting restaurants and shops that represent the best of what Chicago has to offer (which is a lot, and it’s a good list for residents, too). But who are these people, exactly?
Well, according to their self-stated mission, “IACP serves as a resource and support system for food professionals worldwide. Its mission is to help its members achieve career success ethically, responsibly and professionally.” Okay, food professionals. That is a lot of people. Even we are food professionals, according to their broad definition. We suppose that the more annual dues they receive, the better. At $220 a pop for individuals, that’s almost $900,000! What do they do with all that dough? Aside from promotion, job banking and scholarships (which actually sound really awesome), they put on this week-long extravaganza of a conference! It’s been held all over the place in the past 29 years, but now it’s here, and it’s big: 36 hours of panels, discussion groups, cooking demos, tastings, business workshops and networking frenzy, plus two dozen extra Chicago-centric events, all awash in corporate sponsorship and industry bigwigs. Whose names might be familiar? Rick Bayless, Charlie Trotter and Arun Sampanthavivat (yes, that Arun Sampanthavivat) for starters. Thousands of chefs, food scientists, manufacturers…and you? No, not you. Maybe some of you who are members of the IACP and shelled out the $500-odd bucks for the conference and signed up in advance for all the good events, many of which are full and closed. Sigh.
In lieu of actually being there, we will at least tell you what you’re missing each day, since we’re missing it, too. Instead, we’re going to attend the conference that convenes, daily, inside our head. It is free, and has more celebrities.