2017 Annual Conference Agenda


AGENDA and REgistration form

Host hotel — Loews Philadelphia Hotel, 1200 Market Street, 215-627-1200

Panel host — Philadelphia Inquirer, 801 Market Street. Conference panels will take place in the Public Room of the Inquirer unless otherwise noted on the agenda.

Tuesday, September 12

3-6 p.m. AFJ Board Meeting invitation only - PSFS Room, 33rd floor,  Loews Philadelphia Hotel

7:30-9:30 p.m., AFJ Board Dinner invitation only

Whiskey & Rye, Loews Philadelphia Hotel

5:30-7 p.m. Casual Meet ‘n’ Greet for early arrivals with hosts Kellie Hynes and Jill Silva - Bank & Bourbon bar, Loews Philadelphia Hotel

Wednesday, September 13

JUST ADDED! 8:00 - 10:00 a.m. Complimentary Breakfast at Maggiano's Little Italy, 1201 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, 19107. Maggiano's Little Italy has generously offered to host a complimentary brunch for conference attendees our first morning together. This popular national eatery rolled out a new brunch menu within the last few months and they are eager to share it with us. Join colleagues from 8:00 - 10:00 a.m. on Weds., Sept. 13 for a selection that includes continental classics such as fresh fruit, muffins and croissants as well as "Maggiano's Style" brunch items vegetable frittata, crème brûlée french toast, braised beef hash and more. The menu for our group features a, gulp, Benedict Station, with jumbo lump crab cake Benedict and meatball Benedict should you choose to stray from the original. Coffee, tea and juices provided as well as a sampling of brunch cocktails. Maggiano's Little Italy, 1201 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, 19107.

City Hall Tower Tour - Meet 8:15 a.m. in Loews Hotel lobby, return 9:45 to hotel lobby 

That huge building in the heart Center City is Philadelphia City Hall, the world’s tallest masonry and largest municipal building. This morning walk, led by the director of the City Hall Visitor Center, offers context about the storied, circa 1901 structure and includes a visit to the tower to the base of the William Penn’s statue. (Penn’s is the tallest statue atop any building in the world.) Only four at a time can ride the final elevator, so we’ll go in shifts. We’ll return through City Hall's popular public space, Dilworth Park. Maximum of 25 participants; REGISTRATION FULL, waitlist available.

8:30 a.m. Conference registration opens - PSFS room, 33rd floor, Loews Philadelphia Hotel

8-11 a.m. Coaching and critique sessions with Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, Canal House. All coaching sessions take place in the Philadelphia Inquirer Washington Square conference room.

Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton are cofounders of Canal House, a culinary and design studio and publishing venture in Frenchtown, New Jersey. Their collaboration includes Canal House Cooking, a series of seasonal cookbooks for which they do all the writing, recipes, photography, design and production. Recipients of the 2013 James Beard award for their cookbook, Canal House Cooks Every Day (Andrews McMeel, 2012), their next book, Cook Something (Little, Brown), will be published in fall 2018.

11:15 a.m. Conference Opening - Public Room, Philadelphia Inquirer

Welcome by AFJ president Kathleen Purvis

Brief overview of sessions and events by 2017 conference chair Maureen Fitzgerald

11:30-12:15 p.m. Keynote Address: Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, Canal House

“The recipe: preserving memory, culture, and food traditions.  We eat to remember who we are.”

12:30-1:30 p.m. Walk to Lunch at Talula’s Garden, 210 West Washington Square

This seasonally driven restaurant with its cozy chic décor is a partnership between Aimee Olexy and über restaurateur Stephen Starr. It embodies some of the best cooking in the city, including an entire bar dedicated to cheese, with a lovely garden view of Washington Square.

2-3 p.m. Panel Discussion by 2017 James Beard Award winners from Philadelphia 

How did Philadelphia produce four James Beard award winners this year and what does it mean for the city and its culinary identity?

Panelists include Michael Solomonov, the modern Israeli master behind Zahav (and Dizengoff, Abe Fisher and Federal Donuts), who was named the most outstanding chef in America; Greg Vernick, the chefwhose wood-fired hearth has redefined American dining in Philadelphia, and who was named Best Chef Mid-Atlantic; Stephen Starr, the owner of 32 restaurants in four states and two continents, who has gone from big-box concept impresario to Outstanding Restaurateur of the year, and also co-created this year’s best new restaurant, Le Coucou in New York City.

3-3:20 p.m. Break

3:20-4:30 p.m. Farm to Table or Farm to Fable? A panel discussion moderated by national restaurant consultant Clark Wolf, based on the work of journalist Laura Reiley of the Tampa Bay Times, whose Farm to Table, Farm to Fable series was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, in discussion with Aimee Olexy, owner of Talula’s Garden; Josh Lawler, chef at The Farm and Fisherman Tavern (formerly at Blue Hill at Stone Barns); and Rich Landau, chef at Vedge and V-Street, one of the pioneers of upscale vegan cooking, and local farmer Adrian Galbraith-Paul who supplies many of the city’s top restaurants with vegetables grown on Heritage Farm, which he manages.

“Everywhere you look, you see the claims: sustainable, naturally-raised, organic, non-GMO, fair trade, responsibly grown. Restaurants have reached new levels of hyperbole,” writes Reiley in her award-winning series. The discussion will focus on the challenges of sourcing quality local ingredients, truthfully disclosing the source of ingredients and how to figure out which restaurants are telling the truth.

6-6:45 p.m. Cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception for conference goers and 2017 AFJ competition finalists. Regency B Room, floor 2M, Loews Philadelphia Hotel

6:45-7:15 p.m. Presentation of 2017 Carol DeMasters Award for Service to Food Journalism to Marian Burros. Introduction by Maureen Clancy - Regency B Room, floor 2M, Loews Philadelphia Hotel

Throughout her career Marian Burros has been recognized by myriad organizations for her contributions to food journalism. These awards include an Emmy in 1973 for consumer reporting, citations from the National Press Club and more. Burros has authored a dozen cookbooks. Her recipe for plum torte, originally written for The New York Times in September 1983, is the most requested recipe in the newspaper’s history. 

7:15-8 p.m. Announcement and presentation of first-, second- and third-place awards to winners of AFJ’s 2017 food writing competition. Nancy Stohs and Bob Batz, Jr.

8:50 p.m. Cheesesteak Run to Pat's and Geno's - Meet 8:50 p.m. in Loews Hotel lobby, return 10:30 p.m. to Loews Hotel lobby.

Philadelphia, now home to an esteemed, James Beard-dominating culinary scene, remains best known for one simple, perfect, messy sandwich. The cheesesteak, available in endless styles throughout the city, is best enjoyed in its urban birthplace. The South Philly intersection of 9th Street & Passyunk Avenue is where old-school shops Pat’s—the originator—and Geno’s serve it up 24 hours a day. Samples included. Unlimited group size, RSVP required. 

Thursday, September 14

Breakfast on your own

7:15-9:00 a.m. Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell - Meet: 7:15 a.m. at Loews Hotel lobby, return: 9 a.m. to hotel lobby

Enjoy private access to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This National Park Service ranger-led tour takes us through the very room where the Declaration of Independence was debated and signed, and where the chambers where the House and Senate originally met. We’ll then cross the street to the Liberty Bell Center. Bring a camera. Limited to 40 participants; sign-up in advance.

9:30-11:00 a.m. Visit to Reading Terminal Market, 12th and Arch Street, City Kitchen and the Rick Nichols Room

Beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the City Kitchen, our hosts at Reading Terminal Market will offer coffee and a variety of breakfast treats highlighting several of Market vendors.  At 10:00 a.m, we will meet with Anuj Gupta, general manager of the Market and Rick Nichols. Nichols is the former food columnist and editorial writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer who championed the preservation of the market when its future was uncertain. After brief remarks, we will tour the market and enjoy tastes from a variety of vendors.

11:00-12:00 p.m. Lunch on your own. Please note that a sandwich and cookie will be provided at La Colombe Coffee Roasters in Fishtown at 1:30 p.m.

12:00 p.m. Return to Public Room of the Philadelphia Inquirer

12:15-1:00 p.m. Food Journalism in the Gig Economy

Joy Manning with panelists Alex Jones, Matt Rodbard, Gwen Ashley Walters and Molly Watson

Credible food journalists are contributing to magazines like Sift (owned by King Arthur) and Extra Crispy (which blurs the line between branded and editorial content). The waters are muddy as freelance journalists try to earn a living with many fewer opportunities for traditional journalism. This session provides strategies for managing your portfolio of work, calculating your per-hour rate, determining whether a new job creates a conflict of interest, deciding whether or not to write a book when there is so little money on the table and other important issues.

1:15 p.m. Board buses for trip to Fishtown and Distillery Tour. Meet in lobby of Loews Philadelphia Hotel

Explore Fishtown and Kensington, two of Philadelphia’s hottest emerging neighborhoods that have become the epicenter for artisan food and spirit production.

1:30 - 2:15 p.m. La Colombe Coffee Roasters, 1335 Frankford Avenue. Light refreshments provided. 

Philadelphia’s specialty coffee pioneer, now a national player, invested big in this Fishtown headquarters, a converted warehouse cafe that combines an artisanal bread bakery, rum distillery and, of course, a sprawling eatery where the casual menu pairs with pour-over coffees.

Todd Carmichael, founder of La Colombe Coffee Roasters and host of the Travel Channel’s Dangerous Grounds, speaks about the state of coffee and his own coffee-rum distillery

2:30 – 5:00 p.m. Philadelphia Inquirer restaurant critic Craig LaBan kicks off a tour of the neighborhood distilleries with Philadelphia Distilling, Pennsylvania’s first craft distiller. They recently stepped up to this spectacular new home in a converted former Ajax metal factory (Blue coat gin, 1681 vodka, Vieux Carré absinthe). Rowhouse Spirits is a quirky microdistillery that embodies the adventurous spirit of today’s craft beverages, delving into the esoteric world of Amari, Aquavit, coffee spirits and paw paw brandy, among other liquors.  Since Rowhouse is so tiny, we will be rotating smaller tour groups from neighboring Martha Bar, the city’s prime showcase for local spirits. Martha Bar will also be featuring Red Brick Craft Distillery spirits, which specializes in Pennsylvania grain whiskeys. We'll wrap up the tours with New Liberty Distillery. Craft distilling pioneer Rob Cassel launched this Kensington distillery in a converted 19th century stable. He is dedicated to making whiskey from Pennsylvania grains and to reviving historic Philadelphia brands.

2:15 p.m. Board buses for tour or explore Fishtown on your own

5 p.m. Meet at La Colombe to board buses back to Loews Philadelphia Hotel

6:30 p.m. Taste of Philadelphia at the Museum of American Revolution, 101 South 3rd Street

Walk six blocks, cab or Uber/Lyft to the new Museum of the American Revolution, which features life-like tableaus of historical scenes from the revolution and artifacts including George Washington’s tent, revolutionary arms, pottery, china and much more.

Tour the museum then dig into some of the city’s most iconic foods, including roast pork sandwiches and cheesesteaks from John Bucci of John’s Roast Pork; Dizengoff hummus from Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook; vegan "cheesesteaks" with shredded mushrooms, seitan, fried onions and rutabaga wiz from Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby’s Wiz KidCapogiro gelato from Stephanie Reitano; Amis rotolo from Marc Vetri; oysters on the half-shell from Sam Mink’s Oyster House; artisanal cheeses from Sue Miller at Birch Run Hills Farm; bread made from local grains from Ellen Yin and Eli Kulp’s High Street; honeycomb ice cream and gingerbread from Franklin Fountain and sweets from Shane Confectionary from the Berley Brothers’; and a selection of appetizers from Jean-Marie Lacroix at Brulée Catering and a diverse offering of wine from Pennsylvania Wines, the association of Pennsylvania winemakers; cocktails made with Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey and beer from Tired Hands Brewing Company and Yards Brewing Company.

Friday, September 15

Breakfast on your own

7:50 a.m. Littlest Streets Walking Tour - Meet: 7:50 a.m. in Loews Hotel lobby, return 9:30 to Conference location at Inquirer building. 

See first-hand (foot!) why Philly is a great walking city—and a 335-year old one at that. A guide from the Preservation Alliance will lead us on a stroll through a charming labyrinth of 19th century streets in the heart of Center City. We’ll experience Philadelphia as a livable, walkable city at its best. Note: If our stop at Louis Kahn Park inspires you, see the Philadelphia architect’s work now on exhibit at the Fabric Workshop & MuseumLimited to 30 participants; REGISTRATION FULL; waitlist available. 

9:30-11 a.m. Drexel University’s unique approach to culinary arts - Public Room, Philadelphia Inquirer

Faculty from Drexel University’s Culinary Arts & Science school will discuss their unique culinary arts and science programs, which include much more than teaching students to cook and become restaurant chefs. At Drexel, students rub shoulders with chefs at the Philly Chef Conference, work with businesses and chefs to solve real world problems, such as dealing with food waste (creating recipes that making use of overripe produce and products out of wasted food), as well as on product development (creating new flavors for a local tahina producer; working on the science behind the development of a vegetable flour). An East Coast satellite of Stephen Jones’ WSU bread lab is also housed at Drexel, led by chef Marc Vetri and about to launch a long-fermenting bread made with local grains that will be sold at Whole Foods Market.

11:15 – 12:15 p.m. Food for Good: More Than Just a Trend

Yael Lehmann from the Food Trust, Jeff Benjamin from Vetri Community Partnership, Steve Cook from Rooster Soup Co. and Liz Fitzgerald from the Culinary Literacy Council at Philadelphia Free Library will talk about their nonprofit organizations that seek to improve access to fresh, high quality food and cooking for people in all circumstances across the city.

12 :15 - 1:15 p.m.  Lunch on your own

1:30-2:45 p.m. Show Me the Money: How to host events that produce income, drive traffic, reward your readers — or all three: Cheese blogger Tenaya Darlington (Madame Fromage); Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer of Canal House; Marisa McClellan, Food in Jars blogger and cookbook author; Alexis Siemons, tea expert, blogger and writer; Amanda Feifer, formation teacher, blogger, author; and Jen Wolf, Inquirer event coordinator, talk about the benefits of hosting food-related events to make money, build your audience and reward your readers. What are the joys and perils of these events? Join us to learn what to avoid and what to embrace.

2:45-3 p.m. Break

3-4:30 p.m. Annual Meeting (members only)

4:30-4:45 p.m. Conference Closes - AFJ president Kathleen Purvis and 2017 conference chair Maureen Fitzgerald

JUST ADDED! 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Private tours of Shane Confectionery with the Berley Brothers. 

Eric and Ryan Berley keep shop at Shane Confectionery and The Franklin Fountain. After the AFJ conference wraps on Friday afternoon, the fun continues. Shane's opened in 1863 and it holds the sweet distinction of being the oldest continuously operated candy shop in America. Eric and his team are offering free private tours of Shane Confectionery's kitchen for conference attendees on Friday, Sept. 15 at 6:00pm and again at 7:00pm. 

On the tour at either 6:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. on Fri. September 15th, visitors will explore the historic shop and candy kitchen and discover the antique equipment still in use. Guests will learn about the history of candy and chocolate in America and taste the confectionery craft in action. Tour vouchers will be available for the following week for our local guests unable to attend on Friday evening.Email afj.amanda@gmail.com to RSVP.

Ready to join us? Register now