Culinary News from The Culinary Institute of America

The CIA and the MIT Media Lab Announce the Third Annual reThink Food Conference

Attendees of reThink Food enjoy food, wine, and networking opportunities in the CIA’s historic barrel room during conference breaks
Caleb Harper will present information about urban agriculture at the ReThink Food conference.
Greg Drescher, CIA VP of strategic initiatives will lead discussions at reThink Food.

Three Interactive Days Focused on Tensions and Technology, November 4–6 in the Napa Valley

St. Helena, CA – The third annual reThink Food conference—a joint initiative of The Culinary Institute of America and the MIT Media Lab—will be held November 4–6 at the CIA at Greystone in the Napa Valley. This year’s program will explore the tensions between old and new, novel and familiar, tradition and innovation, and abundance and scarcity in food, technology, behavior, and design. Additionally, the conference will delve into the intersection of food with some of technology’s most exciting advancements around AI, robotics, virtual reality, big data, and genetics. The three-day event will feature more interactive sessions and food experiences than ever before while welcoming 300 food industry leaders, including academics and innovators in design, R&D, technology, consumer package goods, and marketing.

Sessions focus on the next chapters of innovation for both emerging and long-established companies. Presenters will delve into technology’s role in food safety, teach you why “you are what you eat,” and envision the kitchen of the future. The list of speakers includes experts in technology (Michiel Bakker of Google), innovation (Jim Flatt of Hampton Creek), personalization and sensory science (Lisa Mosconi of the NYU Medical School and Charles Spence of Oxford University), agriculture technology (Caleb Harper, MIT Media Lab), cultured protein (Andras Forgacs of Modern Meadow and Ryan Pandya of Muufri). Breakout sessions will provide opportunities for interaction, such as a truly blind wine tasting and a “Startup Studio,” where big ideas can be brainstormed.

“By exploring key tensions that permeate the fields of food, innovation, technology, and design, we can identify novel, business-friendly solutions to re-architect our food systems,” says Greg Drescher, the CIA’s vice president of industry leadership. “From opportunities that lie between low-tech and high-tech to understanding how the tensions of fast versus slow affect our food values and experiences, reThink Food brings leaders together to solve some of today’s and tomorrow’s toughest challenges.”

Caleb Harper, director of the Open Agriculture Initiative at the MIT Media Lab, explains, “Over the last few years there’s been an explosion in interest in food, and there are so many types of conferences. But what’s different at reThink food is that we bring together such diverse groups, and we try to look at those groups through different lenses: What do AI and robotics have to do with food? What are the latest advancements of genetics? How do technology, culture, and the enjoyment of food come together for an interesting future? That’s what reThink Food is all about.”

For a taste of reThink Food, a webcast of the 2015 conference general sessions is available for viewing. Other details, all program information, and a registration link for the 2016 conference are available on

Photo Captions and Hi-Res Images:

Photo 1 (top photo): The third annual reThink Food conference, a joint production from The Culinary Institute of America and the MIT Media Lab, will take place at the CIA at Greystone campus in Napa Valley, November 4–6, 2016. (Design credit: J Wright Design; courtesy the CIA and the MIT Media Lab)
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Photo 2: Attendees of reThink Food enjoy food, wine, and networking opportunities in the CIA’s historic barrel room during conference breaks. (Photo credit: Kristen Loken/CIA)
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Photo 3: Caleb Harper, co-organizer of the reThink Food conference and director of the Open Agriculture initiative at the MIT Media Lab will present information about urban agriculture during the reThink Food conference in the Napa Valley in November. (Photo credit: Kristen Loken/CIA)
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Photo 4: Greg Drescher, vice president of strategic initiatives and industry leadership at The Culinary Institute of America, will open discussions about opportunities that exist between tradition and technology at this year’s reThink Food conference. (Photo credit: Kristen Loken/CIA)
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About The Culinary Institute of America:

Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is the world’s premier culinary college. Dedicated to driving leadership development for the foodservice and hospitality industry, the independent, not-for-profit CIA offers bachelor’s degrees in food business management, culinary science, and applied food studies; associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts; and executive education through its Food Business School. Its conferences and consulting services have made the CIA the think tank of the food industry in the areas of health & wellness, sustainability, world cuisines & cultures, and professional excellence & innovation. The college also offers certificate programs and courses for professionals and enthusiasts. Its worldwide network of 49,000 alumni includes leaders in every area of foodservice and hospitality. The CIA has campuses in New York, California, Texas, and Singapore.

About the MIT Media Lab:

Actively promoting a unique, antidisciplinary culture, the MIT Media Lab goes beyond known boundaries and disciplines, encouraging the most unconventional mixing and matching of seemingly disparate research areas. It creates disruptive technologies that happen at the edges, pioneering such areas as wearable computing, tangible interfaces, and affective computing. Today, faculty members, research staff, and students at the Lab work in 25 research groups on more than 350 projects, from digital approaches for treating neurological disorders, to social assistive robots, to advanced imaging technologies that can “see around a corner.” The Lab is committed to looking beyond the obvious to ask the questions not yet asked whose answers could radically improve the way people live, learn, express themselves, work, and play. For more information, visit

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