By the University at Buffalo
Culinary professionals from more than 100 colleges and universities will come to Buffalo for a four-day University at Buffalo food services conference featuring a keynote speech by Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly.
The National Association of College and University Food Services conference, which runs Thursday, March 16, to Saturday, March 19, in the Buffalo Marriott Niagara, 1340 Millersport Highway in Amherst, is expected to generate $500,000 for the Western New York economy, UB officials said. More than 400 campus dining professionals are expected to attend the event, which celebrates the college dining hall experience.
"Our conference theme is 'You Be the Leader,' and we are excited to welcome our colleagues from across the Northeast and Canada to Buffalo," said Jeff Brady, executive director for UB's campus dining services. "We are proud of the dining program we have built here at UB. This is a great opportunity to share how our students dine, live and learn while exploring all of our roles in becoming high-functioning leaders."
The conference will feature three motivational speakers, highlighted by the keynote given by Kelly, conducted in an interview format with Bills play-by-play announcer John Murphy.
Kelly will speak to the conference from 9:45-10:45 a.m. Friday, March 18, in the Marriott ballrooms. The program is restricted to those signed up for the conference.
Food and its inspired preparation also holds center stage. The event features interest sessions on topics such as nutrition and culinary trends, networking opportunities and "It's About the Food: Tips, Tricks and Trends" in campus dining. There is also an American Culinary Federation-sanctioned "Culinary Challenge" taking place at Rich Products, and the industry showcase featuring more than 120 vendors at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.
Ten visiting chefs will compete in the "Culinary Challenge," where they must incorporate the featured ingredients of red rice, edamame and black kale into their entrée. The winning chef of the regional competition earns a spot to compete at the 2016 National Culinary Challenge July 14 in Anaheim, California.
Brady said, given the hundreds of vendors and campus dining professionals living, dining and showcasing their food and motivational talents for the four days of the conference, the event is expected to generate as much as a $500,000 in the local economy.
"What better city to host a conference about food and food service than our own Buffalo?" said Kristen Przybyla, conference co-chair. "Our conference goal is to promote high-quality food service by providing members with exceptional educational programming and numerous professional networking opportunities."
The four-day conference of the industry's food service network includes tours of UB's newest dining hall, the state-of-the-art Crossroads Culinary Center, the site of the conference's final dinner.
UB food service workers, who orchestrated most of the wide array of activities, used the leadership theme in creative ways. Conference "breakout sessions," the smaller groups meeting around a food-leadership-empowerment theme, include: "Management Make-Em Ups: Using Improv Comedy to Improve Your Work," and "It's Not a Doughnut. It's an Experience," a seminar given by university communications senior associate director Tracey Eastman on how social media and content marketing can attract more students and keep them coming back.
Additional program information, as well as the custom-made conference promotional video, can be found at http://www.nacufs.org/regions-northeast/ne-regional-conference/.
UB's campus dining and shops prides itself on serving foods from local growers, striving to achieve sustainability and expanding the availability of dining choices that enrich the dining experience.
"We challenge our experienced and knowledgeable employees daily to provide exemplary customer service," Brady said.
The CDS is a multiunit company employing more than 1,300 people. In addition to providing the university's dining services, CDS also serves the UB community through management of the UB card office, Three Pillars Catering, retail and convenience stores, and vending.
"In our day-to-day operations," the CDC's theme statement reads, "we rely on inherent core values: quality items, value prices, environmentally friendly settings, ethical treatment of all, and conducting all phases of our business with integrity."