If you couldn’t tell from SpoonTV’s Snapstory or from the hundreds of Instagram pics that swamped your newsfeed with #brainfoodnyc on Saturday, July 25, Spoon’s annual Brainfood conference was a huge success.
With 300 attendees, over 25 speakers from within the industry, a free SoulCycle class, and breakfast and lunch provided by ah-mazing brands, everyone went home feeling excited, inspired and full.
Also, did I mention the sick space we had? Shout out to Villain for being a dope venue.
So if you didn’t get the chance to make it, here’s what you missed:
Breakfast by Mamma Chia, Wandering Bear Coffee Company and Happy Tree
After signing in and picking up a gift bag (stuffed with snacks, coupons and Spoon swag), everyone made their way over to the breakfast area.
People were able to pick up a sample of yogurt, topped with Mamma Chia‘s Chia Vitality Granola and Chia Squeeze.
Wandering Bear also made an appearance, giving us the opportunity to try their unreal cold brew coffee. For reference, we threw back two cups of the stuff each – it was that good.
Raw Organic Maple Water by Happy Tree was also available (but not for long).
Quickfire Pitch Session with BobbyPin, Push for Pizza, Wandering Bear Coffee Company, Dō, PareUp and Pops by Haley
Haley Raphael, founder of Pops by Haley, was first up. In just 7 minutes she gave us the low down on how she got her start in the industry. She explained what it took to pursue a career in the culinary world while also utilizing the skills she learned in business school to create a cake push-up pop company, which we all got to try (and loved).
Then we heard from the co-founders of Push for Pizza, Cyrus and Max. They told us how the app they’ve developed makes ordering pizza basically effortless. All you gotta do is simply enter your address for delivery and credit card information, press the button, and hot pizza from your favorite local shop will show up at your door, fully paid for along with the tip. Yes, it is as easy as that.
Next were Ben and Matt, co-founders of Wandering Bear, who gave us the scoop on how their local cold brew coffee is made. They also gave us the deets on why their 12-cup boxes of coffee is the best stuff in town.
Margaret, the co-founder and CEO of PareUp, was next. She told us how her company aims to lower America’s food waste by pairing consumers with restaurants that are selling their excess food at a discounted price. This means us college kids can get quality food for less money and help the environment.
Founder and CEO of BobbyPin, Avi Millman, shared how his app will revolutionize how to find great spots to eat. By pinning places on a map, you’ll be able to keep track of all your favorite restaurants, cafes, boutiques and more. And even better than that, share ’em with friends.
Last but certainly not least, Kristen, the founder of Dō, shared how she came up with the brilliant idea of edible cookie dough that can also be baked, and how she transformed it into a flourishing business.
Edible Infographic by Michael Cirino
After a short break, we got our minds blown by Michael Cirino, chef, artist and entertainer from A Razor, a Shiny Knife. But this wasn’t just any presentation. During his talk, Cirino gave out four different samples of water that were meant to depict the water quality in various parts of the world such as Ethiopia.
The first sample was New York tap water, which represented water in first world countries. The samples got progressively more thick and goopy, demonstrating how challenging access to fresh water is in third world countries such as Fiji – a country many of us believe has some of the freshest water thanks to Fiji bottled water.
The last sample was actually a solid plastic-like texture, but don’t worry no one was hurt in the process because Cirino added xanthan gum and agar agar to the samples, making them safe to consume.
Lunch provided by Sweetgreen, The Meatball Shop, Luke’s Lobsters and Pops by Haley
Sweetgreen hooked us up, providing a ton of their carefully crafted salads, including two seasonal ones and two fan favorites. And as you can tell, we really enjoyed lunch… maybe a little too much. The Meatball Shop also brought trays full of meatballs, including a vegetarian option, and Luke’s Lobster brought a few lobster and shrimp rolls that disappeared really quickly.
Of course dessert was provided by Pops by Haley, so we got to try her vanilla and chocolate birthday push-up cake pops which were the bomb.com.
Will Work for Food: How To Land the Culinary Career of Your Dreams Panel
Midday we got to hear from an all female panel including Alex Pemoulie from Thirty Acres, Kerry Diamond from Yahoo! Food & Cherry Bombe, Kate Neuhaus from Culinary Agents, and Hellen Hollyman from VICE Munchies. These ladies shared their experiences within the food industry and told us what it took for them to get where they are now.
They also shared a bunch of advice on how to be a go-getter in this evolving world of food, and that there is no set path when it comes to working in this industry.
Pro Tip: Put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Things to Know: Where Your Food Really Comes From (and Why) Panel
Since millennials are really starting to voice their concerns about where their food comes from, Spoon put together an insane panel of people in the food industry that deal with this question on a daily basis.
The panel included Jack Algiere, the Four Season Farm Director of Stone Barns Center for Agriculture, Alan Dempsey from Luke’s Lobster, Daniel Holzman from The Meatball Shop and Viraj Puri from Gotham Greens.
This very laid-back conversation was moderated by the CEO of Farmigo, Benzi Ronen. The talk included questions like, “What ethical dilemmas have you had to deal with in the past?” For example, Viraj wanted to box his greens in biodegradable clam shells instead of plastic, but to lengthen the shelf life of the product (which wasn’t even overnight in the biodegradable clam shells), he had to use recycled plastic clam shells instead.
We learned that it’s not a perfect world in sustainable food, and making sacrifices isn’t easy for those who truly dedicate their lives to bettering our food system.
Tech Talk: How Technology is Fixing the World’s Food System
In one of the last panels, Sindha Agha from Hampton Creek, Anneke Jong from Reserve and Ben McKean from Hungryroot talked about how each of their tech companies aims to help people eat good food that’s healthier, sustainable, and affordable.
They also told us how more and more companies are working to do social good but that they don’t see it as competition or a set back. Instead they look at is as more of a push to collaborate and do even better, which is a thing or two us college kids can definitely learn from.
Startup Nation: Young Entrepreneurs Changing the Food Game
The startup scene is a crazy world full of inspiring entrepreneurs with innovative ideas. Mackenzie and Sarah know this side of the industry oh so well, and definitely understand how awesome it is to connect with other startups in the food industry.
This very informal conversation was moderated by the Business Development Producer of General Assembly, Christina Nanfeldt. The panel included Ben and Matt from Wandering Bear, Haley from Pops by Haley, Max and Cyrus from Push for Pizza, Kristen from Dō and Margaret from PareUp.
We got to hear about how they utilized social media, what some of their biggest hurdles were, and how they talked to potential investors. It was incredibly interesting to see how these companies got their start in the food industry.
The Phhhoto Gif Booth
Spoon stepped the photo booth game up a notch with a Gif booth by Phhhoto where people could stand with the famous big metal spoon and look all sorts of crazy with fellow Spoonies.
So, as you can tell, it was an awesome event. And if you couldn’t make it this year, definitely stop by next year. Trust me, it’s worth it.