Many of us can agree that food is everything. I consider myself to be more than a foodie, so sitting in a room with hundreds of other foodies was pretty much a dream come true. 

There are cookbook authors, editors, freelance writers, chefs, food scientists, nutritionists, photographers, farmers, and every other culinary professional you can imagine (and some that you can't).

For the past 5 years, I have been attending (sometimes unofficially) the best conference in the world. My father has been involved with the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) for probably most of my life. So, when I started showing interest in the culinary world, he invited me to tag along to the conferences.

IACP seeks to connect culinary creatives of all ages whether they are seasoned professionals or just entering the industry. They hold this conference for foodies every year to make these connections tangible. The annual conference takes place during a weekend in February in a fabulous city that changes from year to year. 

The IACP conference includes countless incredible sessions on all aspects of food (seriously, all), free goodies like cookware and food, many meals, and the opportunity to meet food professionals (professional foodies, as I like to call them) from all over the world.

And of course there is a lovely gala on the last night to announce the cookbook award winners! This year it was held at the beautiful Palace Theatre in Louisville.

The first conference I "attended" was the New York City conference in 2012. I wasn't officially registered but I got to meet many of my dad's friends and connections and wander around some of the public events. 

I did the same in 2013 at the San Francisco conference, and at the 2014 Chicago one, but in 2015 I actually went to the Washington DC conference as a real attendee!

This was a truly life changing experience. Jose Andres, a famous chef and restauranteur in the DC area, was the keynote speaker and his speech absolutely shifted my worldview and life path. (And I got to meet him!)

He spoke about changing the world through food, helping people, and making a difference. His speech galvanized my need to get involved in the culinary world not as a hobby but as a career. (Not) coincidentally, I ended up at George Washington University in the heart of DC where most of Andres' restaurants are located.

Because I was a busy freshman in college, I had to miss out on the 2016 Los Angeles conference, but this year I made a point to attend the one in Louisville, Kentucky. (Did you know there are a billion ways to pronounce that city's name?)

This was my first year attending as a real (budding) culinary professional! I represented Spoon University and the interest I received from other foodies there about Spoon and college students in the culinary world was astounding. I made many valuable connections and learned about the endless career paths and opportunities that exist in the food world.

If you want to work in the culinary industry in any way, definitely make an effort to check out the 2018 IACP conference February 23rd-25th in New York City! Foodies, food everywhere and the city life - do I need to say more?