save the date for the next WGC conference, November 4-6, 2018

The Oldways Whole Grains Council holds a conference every other year, bringing together scientists, chefs, manufacturers, foodservice operators, distributors and media who share an interest in whole grains. Our next conference will be in 2018, and we’ll start posting details sometime towards the end of 2017.

In the meantime, we invite you to “attend” our most recent conference — titled Whole Grains Away from Home and held September 25-27, 2016 in Chicago — after the fact, by accessing conference materials, including the speakers’ slides and videos, here. This conference focused on the great momentum whole grains are now enjoying in foodservice, including schools, workplace dining, fine dining, fast casual and quick-serve restaurants.

I was impressed by the number of thoughtful and in-depth presentations throughout the conference. Almost every single talk I attended was well prepared and highly informative, laying out important issues for the foodservice industry, but equally interest for anyone wanting to learn more.

– S.G., journalist

All of the speakers were excellent and very applicable to foodservice specifically. The demos were a good addition too, and helped keep things interesting and were helpful when thinking about prep ideas for foodservice operators. – T.S., manufacturer/sponsor

What I liked best was the variety of speakers that created a well-rounded exploration of the topic. I also liked being able to connect with the sponsors at the tables and tasting all the grains in the conference meals.

 – K.N., speaker

I liked that it was a different kind of conference. There was a lot of interesting information and I brought back several ideas and hopefully ways to incoproate different grains, but also ways to market to people so that they will try it.

 – B.P., foodservice dietitian


2016 Conference Agenda

• Welcoming Remarks (Oldways)
• Lessons from the Lunchroom. Chef Ann Cooper, America’s leading advocate for Real School Food, shares the latest on how whole grains are being welcomed in schools – and how this experience can be extended elsewhere in foodservice. (Ann Cooper, Founder, Real School Food)
Whole Grains – It’s All About the Flavor. Top chefs are discovering that whole grains open up a new world of textures and flavors to be explored. Cookbook author Maria Speck, winner of the Julia Child Award, offers her sage advice on flavor pairings, and explains why whole grains offer a culinary advantage. (Maria Speck, Author of Simply Ancient Grains and Ancient Grains for Modern Meals)
• The Art of the Sell: Marketing Whole Grains. Learn the art of designing menu offerings that showcase whole grain options at their best – and get tips from two professional chefs on how to describe these low cost, grain-centric choices to help them fly off the menu. (Michael Holleman, Director of Culinary Development and Coleen Donnelly, Corporate Chef K-12 Segment, InHarvest)
• Opening Reception
• Rediscovering the Real Taste of Local Wheat. For too long, we’ve bred wheat for yield rather than for taste and nutrition. Dr. Stephen Jones, pioneering head of The Bread Lab, explains how his work is bringing delicious flavor back to wheat. (Stephen Jones, PhD, Director of the Bread Lab, Washington State University)
• Whole Grain Momentum Across the Foodservice Industry. Get the overview of a quiet revolution that’s underway across the US, with whole grains at the center of new restaurant concepts and increasingly evident in mainstream chains. (Kelly Toups, MLA, RD, LDN, Director of Whole Grains Council, Oldways and Cynthia Harriman, Director of Food & Nutrition Services, Oldways)
• Millions of Meals: Contract Foodservice Innovation. What do foodservice management companies need from manufacturers, to carry their products? Two of the world’s largest contract foodservice companies will explain how they implement innovative whole grain strategies. (Jennifer Roberts, MS, RD Director of Nutrition Communications, Compass North America and Lisa Feldman, Director of Culinary Services, Sodexo)
• Whole Grain Trend Watch: Searching for the Next Quinoa. What’s happening on America’s menus? Datassential has analyzed a massive store of data to offer keen insights into current momentum – and future trends – for whole grains. (Mark DiDomenico, Director, Client Solutions, Datassential)
• Chicago Chefs: On the Forefront of Whole Grain Innovation. Top Chicago chefs share how they are embracing whole grains on their menus in a variety of different markets. 
Harvest Lunch: Buffet lunch, including plenty of whole grains, and lots of time for networking.
• Whole Grains: Good for Health, Good for Profits. Some of the fastest growth in the restaurant sector comes from concepts that are emphasizing fresh, whole foods and clean labels. Anita Jones-Mueller will cite research documenting the financial benefits of offering healthier choices and will share insights on the momentum of foodservice toward whole grains. (Anita Jones-Mueller, MPH, Founder,
• DEMO: Baking Clean Label Whole Grain Breads, Rolls, Pizzas, & Pastries. Chefs will demonstrate how to extract the greatest flavor from the grain and bake it into the bread, while sharing tips and tricks for elevating baked goods with whole grain flours & sprouted whole grain flours to a whole new level. (Daniel Marciani, Executive Development Chef, Ardent Mills and Banjo Stewart, Executive Chef, Kowaliga Restaurant)
• DEMO: Creative Applications for Ancient Grains. Millet and sorghum are two of up-and-coming contenders to succeed quinoa in popularity. Our chefs will talk about the best flavor pairings for these two gluten-free grains, and put together some delicious dishes. (Joel Shaefer, Executive Chef, Sodexo / Concordia University and a dietitian representing United Sorghum Checkoff Program)
• DEMO: Whole Grain Pasta Pairings. Many attempts to offer whole grains on menus fall flat for a simple reason — many operators don’t put flavor first, or assume that guests looking for healthier choices will compromise on taste. But the right combination of ingredients, techniques and flavors bring out the best in whole grains like pasta, and will have guests coming back for more. This session and cooking demonstration will show you what works, what doesn’t, how and why. (Lorenzo Boni, Executive Chef, Barilla North America)
• Networking Reception. Connect with your fellow attendees, while you sample whole grain dishes from the afternoon’s cooking demonstrations. Make a full meal of it – or nibble, then explore Chicago’s vibrant dining scene.
• Real Food Fast: How Whole Grains are Redefining American Fare. Learn how the emphasis on quality is helping a fast casual burger and salad chain successfully market whole grains to an audience that might otherwise resist healthier options. (Tony Rosenfeld, co-founder, B.Good)
• How One Restaurant is Building a Whole Grain Community. Learn how a Midwestern sushi restaurant chain is using the National School Lunch Program as a jumping off point for building community, and introducing families to healthy ingredients, like whole grains. (Teresa Perretta, Director of Operations, Fusian)
• Foreseeing Tomorrow’s Whole Grain Trends. A leading culinary trendologist draws on more than a decade of strategic food industry market analysis to look into her crystal ball and tell us where whole grains are headed in the short term and the long term. (Kara Nielsen, Food & Beverage Trend Expert & Strategist)
• Whole Grains in Grocerants. In this session, learn about how “grocerants” (grocery store prepared food selections) are leading the way in grain innovation and recipe applications. (Steve Petusevsky, Chef and Culinary Innovator)
• Educating a New Generation of Whole Grain Chefs. Instructors at leading culinary schools share how they are getting the next generation of chefs equipped to cook with whole grains, and why whole grains are an integral part of the plate moving forward. (Chef Bill Lendway, MS, RD, Instructor, University of Minnesota and Art Institutes International Minnesota; Chef Brendan Walsh, Dean of Culinary Arts, Culinary Institute of America; Chef Todd Seyfarth, RD, Program Director / Culinary Nutrition, Johnson & Wales University)
• Next Steps and Call to Action (Oldways)
• Grab and Go Lunch. Enjoy a whole grain boxed lunch while you dash for the airport – or stay onsite to savor your final networking opportunity.

Oldways is a CPE Accredited Provider with the Commission on Dietetic Registration. This conference offers 10 credits of continuing education for registered dietitians until September 25, 2017. See details and presentations here.

Want general information on Oldways / WGC conferences? Click on the links below.



All of our conferences feature top-notch speakers, delicious whole grain foods, lively audiences and plenty of networking, plus great opportunities for sponsors to showcase their whole grain creativity.



Access Past Conference Proceedings

You can access a wealth of materials — presentations, reports, handouts, photos, even videos — from our previous whole grains conferences by clicking here