Keynote Speakers


Comfortably Unaware
Richard Oppenlander

Dr. Richard Oppenlander speaks from the heart while offering compelling and oft shocking research about food choice and how it silently remains the single-most destructive aspect of global depletion. Since 1976, he has extensively studied the effect our food choices have on our health and the immense impact those choices have on our environment. Dr. Oppenlander has given hundreds of lectures, presentations, and open discussions on this topic.

From colleges/universities and corporate board rooms to organizations and private settings, Dr. Oppenlander’s offers his perspectives and solutions to our food choices and putting an end to the destruction of our natural resources.

Dr. Richard Oppenlander's perspectives include, “We should all be committed to understanding the reality and consequences of our diet, the footprint it makes on our environment, and seek food products that are in the best interest of all living things.”

Oppenlander’s inaugural book, “Comfortably Unaware”, explores the disparate gap between the ways in which we nod to sustainable movements, yet often ignore the very issue that is fast-depleting our planet of its resources. Amidst conversations about greenhouse gas emissions, it remains astounding that we do not fully recognize food choice responsibility and the fact that a plant-based diet could rectify our planet’s current course of destruction. While presenting candid facts with unapologetic and stark mental images, Oppenlander makes us just uncomfortable enough to ask ourselves whether we want to remain a society that is ‘comfortably unaware,’ or not.



Menus of Change
Greg Dresher 

Greg Dresher, Culinary Institute of America, Vice President—Strategic Initiatives and Industry Leadership

Greg Drescher is vice president of strategic initiatives and industry leadership at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), where he oversees the college’s leadership programs for the foodservice industry, including conferences, invitational leadership retreats, digital media, and strategic partnerships.

Mr. Drescher is the creator of the college’s influential Worlds of Flavor International Conference & Festival, the annual Worlds of Healthy Flavors and Menus of Change leadership conferences (presented in partnership with the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition), the Healthy Menus R&D Collaborative, and numerous other CIA “think tank” initiatives.

In 2005, Mr. Drescher was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America. The following year, he was honored with Food Arts magazine’s Silver Spoon Award. He shared James Beard Awards in 2007 and 2009 for his work in developing the CIA’s “Savoring the Best of World Flavors” webcast series, filmed on location in food cultures around the world.

In 2008, he was appointed by the president of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine to its “Committee on Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake,” whose final report was published in 2010.

Before joining the CIA in 1995 as the director of education at the college’s Greystone campus in California’s Napa Valley, Mr. Drescher jointly spearheaded a multi-year collaboration of some of the world’s leading health experts and organizations—including the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization—in researching and authoring “The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid: A Cultural Model for Healthy Eating.” The cumulative results of this research were published in a special edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, creating a strong platform for much of the academic, public policy, and media interest in the Mediterranean diet that followed.



Talk of Liberty
Ben Franklin