This past weekend The University of Guelph Sustainable Restaurant Project hosted Forward Food- Sustainable Food Systems Student Conference. We had student attendance from eight different colleges and universities from across Southern Ontario; welcoming Humber College, Fanshawe College, Centennial College, Niagara College, Conestoga College, George Brown College, Ryerson University, and of course The University of Guelph. These students joined us from the hospitality and culinary programs of their respective schools to learn about the global issues facing our industry with respect to climate change and sustainable practices.
The conference was organized and delivered by a team of three, 4th year, University of Guelph students; Emily Robinson, William Boulter, and Lindsay Weatherall. The team put together an itinerary of sixteen different speakers including individual talks, two panels, a breakout session, and an international keynote.
We opened the event with an industry overview by Restaurant’s Canada President, Shanna Munro, followed by a captivating speech from Oceanwise’s Executive Chef, Ned Bell. The students were then exposed to trends in vegan/vegetarian dining on our Plant-Based Menus Panel, hearing insights from Chefs, Managers and Researchers. After indulging in Hospitality Services’ impressively local and ethical catering, we had the choice of hearing from Daniel Hadida of Pearl Morissette or Court Desautels of The Neighbourhood Group of Restaurants. We then moved into an eye-opening panel on The Corporate Impact from PepsiCo, Lamb Weston, Gay Lea and High Liner, and finished our day with a motivational speech from Jonathan Bloom, Author of American Wasteland and international advocate against food waste. Among students, speakers, and invitees we were able to enjoy an enlightening and empowering day. By the time the evening reception took place, the room was buzzing with excitement from a day of unique learning and inspiring discussion.
Forward Food was intended to make a lasting impact on our food system’s future leaders by opening them up to best practices in their industry and consumer demands for a better future. We can only hope that this event can continue annually to inspire a new generation of leaders for a sustainable world.