On February 27th, I had the pleasure of attending a kick-off event in San Francisco’s modern incubation hub, Galvanize. The Culinary Institute of America announced the launch of the Food Business School, whose online classes will be hosted on NovoEd.  Excited to attend and save myself from making dinner plans, I wanted to write a blog entry about my experience. The problem was, I didn’t know whether to write in the voice of an insightful journalist or as snarky food critic. Here’s my attempt at both:

Tim West, creator of the Food Hackthon, excited about the announcement of The Food Business School

Tim West, creator of the Food Hackthon, excited about the announcement of The Food Business School

Entrepreneurs, professors, visionaries, and local students filled Galvanize’s ground floor for the launch of two stimulating initiatives in the food industry, The Food Hackathon and The Food Business School. For the next 72 hours, Bay Area talent would collaborate to “use a menu as an elegant tool for social change,” said Tim West, the FoodHackathon’s creator. The first three hours would be spent getting inspired, and fed.

The evening’s Forum featured guest speakers from Bay Area universities, local startups, and #foodhackathon sponsors, each with their own message to the weekend’s innovators, all sharing a common thread: “Hey smart people, let’s fix the food system.”

Rebecca Chesney, representing Institute for The Future (IFTF.org), presented well-defined themes of opportunity within the food system including the incorporation of data analytics and nutritional identities, where everyone’s diet could be optimized for their own internal chemistry.

Bruce German, a food chemist from the Foods for Health Institute at UC Davis, humored the audience with his references to antiquated health issues we no longer face due to innovation, “When’s the last time you woke up in the morning and checked your throat for gout?” He shared scientific insights about advantageous bacteria in breast milk and invited the audience to collaborate around microcosmic innovation in food.

Matt Smith, representing Food for Good, a philanthropic initiative of PepsiCo, spoke about their efforts to bring healthy meals to America’s impoverished inner cities. His message encouraged entrepreneurs to develop solutions to one of America’s most pressing issues in the food system, the lack of healthy food options in poor cities.

And finally, William Rosenzweig, dean of the Food Business School, made the announcement of America’s first Food Business School, in partnership with the Culinary Institute of America. The Food Business School’s first classes in Napa this spring will invite students to “design, deliver and lead transformative innovations, that address the world’s most pressing challenges–and its greatest business opportunities.”



Following the presentations, the participants were treated to the tasty, mellow appetizer selection from Rebecca Jean Catering, highlighted by a triple cream brie, delightful vietnamese pork belly sliders, and white and lavender cauliflower . True to the theme of the weekend, the menu displayed mostly healthy choices for the guests (with only the chips and fatty dip seemingly out of place). The most splendid taste of the evening was the Ahi Tuna Poke, an invigorating mouth experience displaying the freshness of ahi, well-accompanied by a creamy avocado puree, and perfectly soured by a sharp coriander-lime vinaigrette.

As I left with my brain and stomach filled, I became intrigued by two possibilities: 1) at that event was someone with the idea, network, or institution to make substantive change in the food system in humanity’s future, and 2) there may be more delicious, free dinners in my own future. While the Food Hackathon may have inspired food innovation over this past week, I hope I get another chance to taste the benefits.

If you’re interested in getting involved or registering for classes at the food business school, please visit: www.foodbusinessschool.org