The City of Brotherly Love is now home to The Chef Conference, founded by Mike Traud and presented by Visit Philadelphia and Resy, an American Express company. The Chef Conference is a four-day conference offering a platform for hospitality professionals to connect over a shared vision to improve the restaurant industry and for epicurean enthusiasts to hear from their favorite culinary stars and have one-of-a-kind dining experiences.
The conference welcomes top names in hospitality — including Tom Collichio, Gregory Gourdet, Gail Simmons, and Andrew Zimmern — to Philadelphia for a slate of panels, celebrity chef book signings, charitable events, and special collaborative dinners pairing some of the world’s top chefs with Philadelphia restaurants. For example, a dinner series hosted by Italian food author Katie Parla with Sarah Cicolini of SantoPalato in Rome will be in collaboration with Amanda Shulman at Her Place Supper Club.
The conference and its ancillary open-to-the-pubic programming — like pop-up dinners, book events, and happy hours — that fall under its umbrella will occur April 12-15, 2024 hosted in venues across Philadelphia. Panel discussions and thought leadership chats will occur on Monday, April 15, at The Study at University City (20 S. 33rd St.).
A decade ago, Mike Traud founded The Philly Chef Conference with Drexel University; 2023 marked his last conference with Drexel after successfully curating nine years of events. Traud is embarking on a new chapter as founder and executive director of The Chef Conference, debuting in 2024. While based in Philadelphia, the name of the conference suggests an international focus on content and talent, celebrating how the destination is a leader within global trends and conversations and, while highlighting some of the city’s leading culinary voices.
The Chef Conference offers a one-of-a-kind setting for meaningful discussions surrounding issues actively impacting the industry. Past discussions impacting the industry and the world at large include prison reform, AAPI and LGBTQ issues, and food criticism, to name a few, but the particularly unique element comes in the talent featured in these discussions. Rather than chefs and hospitality professionals discussing matters peer to peer, The Chef Conference will incorporate the country’s most prolific journalists and reporters who dedicate their lives to covering these issues — at outlets like Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, GQ, and The New York Times — which lends a different lens to the conversation.
“The Chef Conference serves to provide a setting for industry thought leaders to engage in dialogue focused on improving the restaurant industry,” says Mike Traud, founder and executive director of The Chef Conference. “By bringing industry luminaries, top food journalists, James Beard Award winners, Food & Wine Best New Chefs, and beloved hospitality professionals to Philadelphia, we are able to create an open and educational experience rooted in connection. I’m excited for this connection to continue with consumers in the intimate pop-up dinners and other special events that will be happening around town,” Traud continued.
The Chef Conference creates safe, diverse, and inclusive spaces for the restaurant community to convene, engage in meaningful discourse, share best practices, and foster long-lasting relationships through open dialogue. Talent confirmed to participate in The Chef Conference’s inaugural event include Ashley Christensen, Sean Brock, Tom Colicchio, Gregory Gourdet, Brett Martin, Garrett Oliver, Jamila Robinson, Rosio Sanchez, Kim Severson, Sean Sherman, Gail Simmons, Michael Solomonov, Chad Williams, Ellen Yin, and Andrew Zimmern, with more names to be announced shortly. The industry track of the conference will further diversify discussions surrounding the following pressing topics: motherhood and hospitality, sobriety in F&B businesses, inclusivity in the beverage space, ethics of awards, the influence of Mexican cuisine, and more.
The presenting sponsorship of Visit Philadelphia and Resy enables The Chef Conference to extend beyond the culinary industry to reach broader consumer audiences. The four-day conference includes open-to-the-public dinner events, an opportunity for locals and visitors to get a taste of world-renowned chefs collaborating with the best restaurants and chefs in Philly; host restaurants include Friday Saturday Sunday, Her Place Supper Club, Palizzi Social Club.
Tickets for The Chef Conference will be available December 1 through December 4, 2023, for individuals who have attended the conference in the past. Tickets will be available to the public starting December 5, 2023, at www.thechefconference.com; the full line-up of programming and talent will also be announced that day. To foster deeper connections and meaningful conversations, tickets for The Chef Conference’s programming on Monday, April 15 will be limited. For more information, visit www.thechefconference.com and follow @thechefconference on Instagram.