Keynote: Celebrity Chef Tre Wilcox

Tre Wilcox has a laundry list of cooking accolades under his belt. His “school of hard knocks” culinary training makes his accomplishments all the more impressive. Chef Tre worked his way up the ranks through good old-fashioned hard work. He cleaned chicken in a fast food restaurant as a teenager and by the age of 29 he earned a 5-star review at Abacus, where he served as chef de cuisine. Twice nominated for the “Rising Star Chef “award by the James Beard Foundation, which is the “Oscars of the Food World”, Chef Tre was also named Best Chef by the Dallas Morning News. He kitchen success parlayed to the small screen, appearing on Bravo Television’s season 3 of Top Chef and Top Chef All-Stars. Along with his mentor Kent Rathbun, Chef Tre competed on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America, beating the team headed by Bobby Flay. Chef Tre has been featured in Gourmet, Modern Luxury and Food & Wine magazines, to name a few.  Chef Tre wanted to expand on his other gift, sharing his passion for food through teaching. “When I’m giving a cooking demonstration or on a TV set, I want viewers to walk away with a ‘can do’ feeling in the kitchen.” He adds, “One of the biggest things I enjoy, and what I do myself, is teach  what my name is; use the three letters of my name as an acronym for good cooking, Techniques, Recipes and Execution.” From there TRE Cooking Concepts was born.

Keynote: Four Day Weekend

A "Yes, And" Keynote with Opening Remarks by UNT President Dr. Neal Smatresk.

Four Day Weekend is a 21 year old Texas institution and the longest-running show in the southwest, with more than 550,000 people having seen the troupe perform in their beautiful theater in the heart of Sundance Square; Fort Worth, as well as their NEW theater in the Lower Greenville neighborhood of Dallas. In addition to their weekly public shows, Four Day Weekend has launched their own four-level improvisation training center; taken on corporate gigs for organizations such as Frito-Lay, Southwest Airlines, Pfizer and Office Depot; branched out into film and television projects; and their new book “Happy Accidents: The Transformative Power of Yes, And in Business and in Life” which was released by Wiley and Sons on September 5, 2017 has become a National Best Seller. This critically-acclaimed troupe has traveled overseas to entertain the military and has performed for two U.S. presidents. Additionally, they have been named a Small Business of the Year and have received the Key to the City of Fort Worth, among other prestigious awards.

Charles Ashford, Sports Nutritionist, UNT

Building a Successful Sports Nutrition Program in College Athletics. College athletics is a multi-billion dollar industry. The health and welfare of these athletes is something athletic departments do not take lightly. The NCAA’s decision in April 2014 to lift feeding restrictions on Division I college athletes opened the floodgates in the sports nutrition arms race. Supporting college athletes with proper nutrition can enhance performance, improve recovery and decrease risk of injury. Dining departments can have a crucial role in supporting these athlete’s endeavors, discover how you can best support their success and meet the needs of both the students and administration.

Charles Ashford joined the Mean Green in the summer of 2017 to establish a sports nutrition program for the student athletes of North Texas. He will work with all collegiate teams. Charles arrived at North Texas following a three year stint in Lubbock at Texas Tech University. He served as a full-time assistant sports nutritionist, working primarily with football and soccer.Charles holds full practitioner registration on the Sport and Exercise Nutrition register (SENr) through the British Dietetic Association. Charles is also a certified sports nutritionist through the International Society of Sports Nutrition (C-ISSN). Furthermore, he is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and an anti-doping accredited adviser (UKAD).

Rebecca Dunning: Agricultural economist and social scientist at North Carolina State University; Lauren Horning: Local and Organic Specialist at FreshPoint Raleigh; Glenn Reynolds: District Chef in North Carolina

Dining and Distributor Collaboration for Authentically Local Sourcing. In this session learn about the results of a unique partnership between local farms, dining management at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, the University’s authorized fresh produce distributor, and a USDA-funded farm-to-university initiative. While operating within the contracted food service management structure, the partners have been able to build face-to-face relationships between the Chef and small farms within 10 miles of the university, build the capacity of those farms to meet food safety and other distributor requirements, and triangulate information flows so that the distributor and dining work collaboratively to bring produce from local farms into dining.

Rebecca Dunning is an agricultural economist and social scientist at North Carolina State University. She has worked as an economist at a vertically integrated shrimp farming operation in Ecuador, at a state department of agriculture, and now leads food systems and food supply chain projects at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems. Rebecca works to create partnerships and bridge the divide between small/mid-scale family-owned farms and food businesses and larger conventional buyers, including institutional food service.

Lauren Horning is the Local and Organic Specialist at FreshPoint Raleigh. Raised on a small hobby farm in central Pennsylvania, Lauren grew up with agricultural roots. During college, she worked on organic farms in rural Argentina and urban Pittsburgh. She moved to North Carolina in 2015 to develop a local program for Foster-Caviness, a family-owned produce distributor. A year later, she was asked to join FreshPoint Raleigh to build their local program. Lauren finds local farmers, helps them plan crops and usages, creates marketing materials about the farms, and assists chefs in writing menus that include local products.

Glenn Reynolds has been an Executive Chef and in upper management in the University segment for 17 years. Now as a District Chef in North Carolina he has the unique opportunity to impact local food across 9 campuses and expand the purchasing power to help small farmers grow. Watching small farms enjoy success and begin to grow, along with the heartfelt thank yous from the farmers, is the motivation for this Chef to keep pushing on. Educating small farmers and creating a unique way to bring the freshest of ingredients to the University kitchen is the ultimate reward.

Monte Pedersen: Principal, The CDA Group LLC; Jud Flynn: CEO and Founder On-Site Culinary Solutions, LLC

Food and People; Culinary Capabilities and Organizational Effectiveness. Creating and maintaining a strong culture of food takes time, hard work and the willingness to surface all the issues that your campus dining operation and program face. Establishing Chef driven, professional culinary standards that will survive management change, staff turnover and become the enduring mark of a quality program requires “hands on” support and leadership that focuses on building organizational effectiveness throughout every level of your team. Join us for a revealing discussion/presentation that shares how an investment in your leadership and culinary teams can help you to mitigate risk and accelerate the quality, growth, and level of success in your dining program.

Monte Pedersen is a 35-year industry veteran who has spent the entirety of his career working in and with the college and university dining services segment. His education, background and varied skill-sets uniquely qualify him to provide training, counseling and coaching to the industry and other affiliated businesses. During his career, Monte has worked in almost every capacity in college and university dining operations eventually moving outside of operations to complete a distinguished career in sales, strategy and executive management. He is an avid reader, golfer, consumer of great food and is constantly on the search for the best bottle of wine under $20.
He resides in Galena, Illinois with his wife and daughter.

Chef Jud Flynn started his career washing dishes at the age of 13 for his family’s restaurant in Long Lake NY, which sparked his interest in the foodservice business. Chef Jud continued his quest for knowledge and traveled to NH and then to his home state of VA while working for European trained Executive chefs in “made from scratch” kitchens. Chef Jud rose to the culinary ranks of Executive Chef within 10 years at the age of 22, and then continued on his path to the Prestigious New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, VT where he graduated with an AS Degree in Culinary Arts in 93’. Chef Jud became a Certified Executive Chef (CEC) from the American Culinary Federation and started competing in ACF national culinary competitions. Fifty-Five medals later Chef Jud became one of only 93 ACF National Judge’s in the country and went on to represent Team USA in the Culinary Olympics in Erfurt Germany in 2000. After more than thirty-four years in the food services industry, Chef Jud founded On-Site Culinary Solutions LLC in 2008 and launched his NACUFS Culinary Training portfolio.

Joel Adour

From Leadership to Becoming the Ideal Team Player. It's easy to tell managers and supervisors they need to display leadership, only to get frustrated when it doesn't happen. It's easy to preach about being a team player and then get irritated when people do not work together or work against one another. The essence of the problem lies in a lack of practical understanding of what leadership is and clarity on what an ideal team player is. Most folks want to be good leaders. Most folks want to be ideal team players. They will have a better chance of success in these areas if they understand the characteristics of leadership and being an ideal team player. This presentation will help define these characteristics in a way that is easy to implement into our daily interactions with our teams.

Over Joel Adour's 25+ plus years in leadership, he has developed an understanding of what leadership is and is not. He has also learned that being the ideal team player and developing ideal team players are the keys to the success of any organization. He's had the privilege of coaching high school (Fowler HS, Syracuse, NY) and college football (SUNY Morrisville). Working with a football team is very similar to working with a food service team. There are many roles, skills, talents and wide variety of personalities to content with and develop. Mr. Adour is passionate about Leadership and developing team players.

Bill McNeace: Executive Director, UNT Dining Services; Shohreh Sparks: Operations Director, UNT Dining Services

Food Service: You Can Do It and You Should – Our Transition to Self-Op. Food Service is easy to outsource. Many organizations do. It is one thing to outsource food for automobile assembly plants and football arenas. Food is not core to the mission. But what about a campus where developing adults live, work and play? Food becomes a powerful cultural force. Many senior administrators admit, while food may not be the most important thing on campus, if they ain’t happy with food, they ain’t happy with nothing. Learn to make them happy and make more profit than you dreamed possible. The presenters will share their story of a successful transition from outsourced food management to in-house food management.

Bill McNeace has deep understanding and successful experience in every imaginable phase of college and university food service. From the frontline trenches of a major contractor to the executive boardroom, McNeace has personally worked at hundreds of foodservice operations. He has keen insight into establishing and maintaining excellent university centric food service operations. McNeace was recruited to the University of North Texas in 2009 to convert a major account (38,000 students) from contract to self-op. McNeace has always believed that, all else equal, a university’s mission is best achieved by taking a stake in its own destiny and plowing profit from food service back into campus operations rather than sharing it with corporate entities. McNeace earned his MBA at Georgia State University and Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Institutional Food Service Management and Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration at the University of South Carolina. McNeace is CASP certified.

Ms. Sparks is a Registered Dietician. She earned a Master’s of Science in Food Technology at the University of North Texas. She also has extensive skill in the culinary arts through on-job training, world travel and CIA sponsored certification. Ms. Sparks brings a unique vision of food to a college campus. She sees food through the lens of science and nutrition as well as culture and spirit. Her unyielding drive for food excellence is an example of the talent needed to transform a food organization. Ms. Sparks has applied her unique brand of service with enthusiastic sincerity at UNT for over twenty years. Prior to her work with UNT, Sparks worked in the area of clinical foods in high volume hospitals, as well as working as a dietitian and consultant to clients at the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas, Tx.

David Porter: CEO, Principal, Social Architect, Porter Khouw Consulting, Inc.; Neil Hart: Executive Director, Auxiliary Services, University of Houston

UHouston’s New, Socially-Rich Dining Program Influences Student Success. The University of Houston was experiencing high dissatisfaction with its campus dining program, meal plan sales were dropping and students were calling for changes. Through a detailed planning process, the University implemented a creative five-year business plan with innovative programming enhancements including 24/7 Anytime Dining that has resulted in increased participation, higher value-proposition, and greater student engagement.

David Porter, FCSI, has completed dining services master plans, meal plan studies, written and bid RFPs for foodservice operator selection, and has programmed and designed foodservice spaces throughout the United States and Canada. His professional experience includes more than 35 years of hands-on foodservice operations and consulting experience, with over 20 years of experience in the field of independent foodservice consulting. David has won the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) Region II Industry Award, the prestigious Daryl Van Hook Industry Award and served on the NACUFS Board of Directors and the NACUFS Industry Advisory Committee. He is a regular speaker at both regional and national NACUFS conferences as well as other industry meetings. David has also authored several articles for Food Management magazine. David is also the author of The Porter Principles: Retain & Recruit Students, Save Millions on Dining and Stop Letting Foodservice Contractors Eat Your Lunch.

Neil Hart comes to UH after serving as the director of Auxiliary Enterprises at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Prior to that, he spent 12 years with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the majority of time as director of Campus Services. In all, he has approximately 20 years of experience related to auxiliary services. Hart, who officially assumed the executive director position in February 2017 takes over a department that includes a team of directors that oversees Dining Services, the UH Bookstore, Vending Services and various retail lease partners. Neil has several goals in mind in his new role overseeing Auxiliary Services at the University of Houston, but they all have one main common denominator: improving the student experience. As part of his goals, he envisions aligning and positioning Auxiliary Services in such a way that it enhances overall student satisfaction. This includes meeting and exceeding customer expectations on a daily basis, an achievable objective he views as beneficial not only to students, but the entire UH community. Neil has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Houston and a master’s degree in business administration from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. He is a self-professed sports enthusiast who likes to play in competitive basketball leagues and watch college football and basketball.

Michael Dimin: Founding Director at Sea to Table; Chef Rick Wright: Director of Dining Services at Sewanee: The University of the South

On Trend With Seafood: Healthy, Sustainable and Affordable. Sustainable Seafood has been a top culinary trend for the last few years. But how do you make it work on campus and take it from a trend to your purchasing standard? A brief video presentation and panel discussion will discuss how universities are successfully sourcing wild, domestic, traceable, sustainable, and affordable seafood for campus dining. We’ll hear from Sewanee and Sea to Table on why it’s so important to improve seafood purchasing, how they made it work within their budget and operation, and how you can too!

Michael Dimin is the founder of a nationwide seafood distribution company that partners with small-scale fishermen and 35 docks across the country, providing wild, domestic, sustainable species to restaurants, universities, food service, and home consumers. Michael has participated in Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch roundtables for both the foodservice and hospitality industries. Recent speaking engagements include Farm to Cafeteria Conference (2016), NACUFS National Conference (July 2016), and Sustainable Seafood Week (Sept 2015)

Chef Rick Wright is the Director of Dining Services at Sewanee: The University of the South since 2010 and has more than 40 years of experience in the kitchen. Rick is also the Director of the South Cumberland Food Hub, works as an advisor the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, and works closely with University Farm. He oversees the production of meals for 1600 + students and is dedicated educating both staff and students on health and wellness and the importance of fresh, local purchasing. Previously, Rick was the Executive Chef with Compass Group and Coca-Cola.