Culinary News from The Culinary Institute of America

The Culinary Institute of America and the MIT Media Lab Present Second Annual reThink Food

Journalist and author Tom Standage
Randy Komisar, a partner in Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Focusing on Trust, Transparency, and Trajectory within the Food and Tech Communities

St. Helena, CA – The second annual reThink Food conference—a joint project of The Culinary Institute of America and the MIT Media Lab taking place November 6–8 at the CIA’s Napa Valley campus—tackles the complex landscape that food and technology shares, from generating trust with consumers and funding tomorrow’s changemakers to transparency in supply chains and the future of healthcare’s impact on food and agriculture. The conference will also foster networks of action among attendees.

The three-day event welcomes 300 food industry leaders; academics and innovators in R&D, technology, consumer package goods; marketers and others in related fields who come to learn about cutting-edge research; business-friendly solutions for the food-related imperatives that face us; and issues at the epicenters of innovation, entrepreneurship, supply chain re-invention, and design thinking. Sessions will examine the need to develop an open dialog between technologists, food professionals and industry leaders, and the public; the decisions that investors make when looking at innovative start-ups to support; and the impact that digital healthcare will likely have on our food choices. Presenters will provide everything from a glimpse into the foods of tomorrow to the role of technology in the kitchen. Ideation sessions and culinary demos are also on the schedule.

Speakers and moderators include Nicholas Negroponte, co-founder of the MIT Media Lab and author of The New York Times bestseller, Being Digital; restaurant designer Mark Stech-Novak; Lynda Deakin, a partner at IDEO and leader of IDEO’s Food Studio; Jeff Dunn, president and CEO of Bolthouse Farms; and Stephanie Strom of The New York Times. There will also be presentations by the Institute for the Future, the Food Business School, Compass, Technomic, and many more. The complete list of presenters and their bios are available on the reThink Food website.

“The world is composed of a large number of interconnected systems, with food at the very core,” says Media Lab Director Joi Ito. “Understanding and tackling the problems and opportunities that face the food system—and its complex relationship with health, the environment, and the economy—requires building a trusted network of critical thinkers from a host of diverse fields, including scientists, engineers, producers, retailers, culinary experts, entrepreneurs, and consumer insight specialists, all of whom will convene at this event.”

“What’s at stake is not merely the acceptance (or rejection) of new technology by chefs, growers, and food companies,” says Greg Drescher, the CIA’s vice president of industry leadership of the overall initiative, “but the opportunity to entirely re-envision what’s possible at the juncture of food, technology, innovation, and the consumer. We’ve designed reThink Food to push us to consider robotics in the same breath with locally sourced, hand-crafted flavors, and global food supply challenges in the same conversation with strategies to delight consumers around singular food experiences.”

Anyone can follow the general sessions—from the role of robots in the kitchen of the future to the impact of healthcare on foodservice—through a live stream on Visit the website, as well, for additional information, the program schedule, and registration details.

Photo Captions and Hi-Res Images:

Photo 1 (top photo): Attendees at reThink Food in 2014 were treated to tastes of an engineered meat jerky from the CEO of Modern Meadow, Andras Forgacs (center, with microphone), who created the product. (Photo credit: CIA/Kristen Loken)
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Photo 2: Journalist and author Tom Standage was the keynote speaker at reThink Food last year. This year, the conference will feature Nicholas Negroponte, co-founder of the MIT Media Lab and author of The New York Times’ bestseller, Being Digital. (Photo credit: CIA/Kristen Loken)
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Photo 3: The program schedule for reThink Food includes a conversation with Randy Komisar, a partner in Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers who focuses on sustainability practices. He’ll address what it takes to be an entrepreneur, what brands learn from artisanal companies, and a lot more. If you can’t join the conference in the Napa Valley, join the webcast online at (Photo credit: Courtesy Randy Komisar)
View hi-res image >

Media Contact:

Jan Smyth
Marketing Manager

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 associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts; bachelor’s degree majors in management, culinary science, and applied food studies; 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 48,000 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 more than 25 research groups on more than 350 projects, from digital approaches for treating neurological disorders, to a stackable, electric car for sustainable cities, 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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