IACC Americas Connect 2019 fulfilled its mission to shake up the stereotypical conference.
The theme of the 38th edition of the conference was “Radical Innovation – Change Everything.” Held April 10-11 at Vantage Venues and The Globe and Mail Centre, in Toronto, it drew 230 conference centre delegates from around the world as well as more than 20 meeting planners, and for the first time, event management students from Ryerson University and Seneca College. Together, they enjoyed education delivered by a 100 per cent new speaker line-up, all of whom were banned from using PowerPoint presentations with slides that included more than one word.
“We felt it was time that Connect returned to Canada after 15 years in the U.S.,” said Nancy Lindemer, president, IACC Americas. “Our members in the region embraced the opportunity in a truly incredible way and the ideas and creativity from the team tasked with designing this year’s event was immense.”
The tone for the event was set by opening keynote speaker Pablos Holman. The former computer hacker turned inventor and innovator, delivered a session that encouraged attendees to be the disruptors of the events industry in the next five years with their innovative venues, services and solutions to some of the industry’s biggest problems.
Toronto’s meeting planning community also joined a lively debate on culinary trends. The panel of experts—Mariela McIlwraith of Events Industry Council, Tracy Stuckrath of Thrive Meetings, Alan Booth of Deloitte University and Brian Stapleton of Aramark Conferencing—led a discussion on how the industry can best embrace the fast pace of change, covering topics from allergens and dietary preferences to new foods, managing waste and sustainable practices.
In a fast-paced competition focused on innovations, IACC members and suppliers delivered four-minute long elevator pitches for their innovations to global senior press judges. IACC announced Janice Cardinale and Richard Emmanuel of The Idea Hunter as the winner of the competition at the IACC Opening Awards Ceremony. Delegates were also treated to a mystery culinary tour around the city, where they visited a number of venues that have different approaches to food and beverage.
The association’s Global Copper Skillet competition took place on day two of the conference. This annual battle pits the winning chefs from competitions in the Americas, Europe and Australia against one and other in a “Chopped” style, timed cooking contest. This year’s judging panel included celebrity chef Michael Smith, a regular on Food Network Canada, and the leader of a workshop held earlier in the day.
Sebastian Layen of Deloitte University | Benchmark, a Global Hospitality Company (United States) was named Senior Chef Champion and Niclas Jansson of Sigtunahöjden (Sweden) took home the Junior Chef Champion award.
After the competition, Chef Michael Smith said he was truly impressed with the creativity of all the chefs. “The ability to think on your feet and execute a dish from what’s on hand is what we do every day,” he said, “but once that clock starts ticking you never know what can happen!”
The winning dishes from the chefs were:
- Sebastian Layen, Senior Chef Champion – Crusted Canadian bison medallion, fig and maple syrup gastrique, roasted fig, artichoke and root vegetables barigoule.
- Niclas Jansson, Junior Chef Champion – Beef with brown buttered tempeh, roasted cauliflower, stewed cauliflower with apple and maple syrup, vinegar and lemon poached asparagus, onion, red wine, maple syrup and browed butter.
IACC’s next annual European conference, Knowledge Festival, will take place October 4-6, 2019 in Brussels.