In case you missed it, the biggest event in Spoon history took place just the other weekend, on August 2 and 3 in the Big Apple. Over 300 Spoon members and young food lovers from around the country converged at AlleyNYC, an awesome co-working space (where, fun fact, the Spoon interns worked each week). In case you didn’t make it because you live too far, or suddenly sprained your ankle like I did, here’s what you missed:
We kicked off the weekend with an exclusive, invite-only dinner party on Friday night. There were noms from the likes of Witchcraft, Wasabi, Del Posto, Num Pang, Nugget Spot, Melt Shop and hard cider provided by Rekorderlig USA. If you had any doubts that this weekend was going to deliver on its promise of tasty treats, doubt no more.
Saturday morning started off another awesome breakfast spread, with a full-service coffee bar from Oren’s, food porny doughnuts from Doughnut Plant, Oatworks smoothies, Chobani yogurt, Happy Tree maple water and Vitalicious Vitatops.
After about an hour of schmoozing, eating and slurping down coffee, everyone filed into the “Radish Room” for our first keynote speaker of the weekend: Baked by Melissa’s founder Melissa Ben-Ishay. A mini celebrity herself, she spoke about how she started the famous bite-sized cupcake brand and how anything is possible, if you work your ass off.
Next up we had Mark Ladner of Del Posto, Robin Hom from the International Culinary Center, Bret Csencsitz from Gotham Bar & Grill and Josh Morgan of Melt Shop taught us the secrets to NYC’s culinary success. After that the group broke out in smaller sessions where the International Culinary Center gave a cooking demonstration (and samples of shrimp and mango salsa, unreal) and the founders of Happy Tree, Luke’s Lobster and Sir Kensington’s gave a fireside chat about what it’s like to start a food business.
We broke for a delicious lunch featuring incredible lobster rolls by Luke’s Lobster, hotdogs from Applegate, sweetgreen salads, Mama O’s Kimchi and Runa Tea. Don’t forget the 702 Bake By Melissa cupcakes shaped like our Spoon logo. After wallowing briefly in our food comas, it was right back to an afternoon of programming.
The afternoon lineup began with the first of two panels about how our generation talks about food. Chris Stang of The Infatuation, Chris Grosso and Lauren Cynamon of Vice Munchies, Rachel Sanders of Buzzfeed and Karen Stabiner from Columbia University taught us how millennials are consuming and sharing food media like never before.
Right away we broke out into a whole slew of skill-building workshops. Chris Stang taught us to develop a good writing voice, the Vice pros taught us how to make killer videos, Nine Lines helped us get to know Google Analytics, Priya Krishna shared her insights on publishing a cookbook and SquadUp gave us expertise on throwing events. Also Daniel Krieger taught us all to take amazing food pica so we could up our likeage on our Insta’s and Bon Appetit‘s Julia Kramer helped us learn to write stellar restaurant reviews.
Whew, we’re out of breath. So many skills to learn, so little time!
We closed out day one by hearing from Amanda, Kludt, the editor-in-chief of Eater, who inspired everyone with her story of how she rose through the ranks.
Day two began with a satisfying second day’s breakfast full of Chobani yogurt, Happy Tree, Doughnut Plant, Oatworks and coffee from Oren’s Daily Roast. Our first speaker of the day was Tyler Gage, the cofounder of Runa Tea. After that, the co-founders of Dormify, Exo (a protein bar brand that uses crickets as the source of protein!), Lean Start Up Machine and texts.com talked to us about starting a company right out of college.
Up next: a panel including the Noah Karesh of Feastly.com, Justin Reitman of Caviar, Hannah Gotfredson of Blue Apron, Catherine Lamb of Food52 and moderated by Craig Kanarick of Mouth.com on how technology is changing the way you eat.
By this point we were starving, so we grabbed some lunchtime grub by Dig Inn, 16 Handles and Runa Tea. Then right back to learning.
Have you ever been confused about the difference between marketing, PR, advertising and event planning? Carli Roth from Host Committee, Karen Land Short from Droga5, Peggy Mansfield from Food Network Magazine and Rachel Van Dolsen of RVD Communications cleared it up for us.
Then it was time for more activities and workshops. The young professionals in the room had trouble picking between them all. Josh Spodek spoke about leadership and motivation, Erin Greenwald of The Daily Muse helped us pick the right career, Brand Yourself made sure we cleaned up our presence on Gooogle and Facebook to make us employable and Arthur Bovino of The Daily Meal introduced us to working for a food publication. Meanwhile, the super ambitious got an intro to coding class by General Assembly while those who were still hungry got to decorate boozy cupcakes thanks to Kicky’s Kitchen.
The weekend concluded with an incredible speech from Michael Cirino from A Razor, A Shiny Knife who basically told us anything is possible and that you should scare yourself into achieving the impossible. He left the crowd feeling inspired, energized and ready to take on the craziest ideas you could imagine.
We learned a ton and ate enough to boast a large food baby. It was an exhausting but awesome weekend and we are so grateful to everyone that came.
Can’t wait to do it again next year!
To see the full schedule and all of our sponsors, click here.