World Food Conference Celebrates Alabama Cuisine

Celebrity chefs, food writers, cookbook authors and more from across the country come together with some of Birmingham’s nationally known but local culinary talents for a lively, informative weekend and delicious.

And you too are invited.

The International Association of Professional Cooks (IACP) is holding its annual conference October 22-24 at Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark, Pepper Place Entertainment District and other locations in Birmingham and across the state . It’s called “An Alabama Feast” and all events are open to the foodie public. Most of the weekend’s festivities take place outdoors, with COVID security protocols in place at all times.

This conference is a big deal.

Andrew Zimmern, right, pictured with Highland owner and chef Frank Stitt loves to eat in Birmingham. (Erin Harney / Alabama NewsCenter)

The IACP is a hard-hitting professional culinary organization founded by Julia Child, Nathalie Dupree, Jacques Pepin and Martin Yan. With over 3,000 active members in all 50 states and around the world, the IACP includes many big names in food, such as Ina Garten, Padma Lakshmi, Jessica Harris, Bobby Flay, Martha Stewart, Andrew Zimmern, Ree Drummond, Toni Tipton Martin, Molly Yeh and more.

“We are delighted to welcome this elite culinary group with members from across the country to come together in the heart of Birmingham city center for their annual conference,” said Cathy Sloss Jones, developer of Pepper Place. “We have gone out of our way to ensure that we provide them and the people of Birmingham with an unforgettable culinary weekend.”

Inclusiveness is the key here. Although the IACP is international in scope, this conference also invites local populations to participate.

If you do, you can expect to see some familiar faces from Alabama. “From James Beard winners like Frank Stitt and Chris Hastings to barbecue kings like Rodney Scott, to true leaders in the food community like Amanda Storey of Jones Valley Teaching Farm and Crystal Peterson of Yo ‘Mama’s, people will be blown away. by the amazing people who attend, ”said Leigh Sloss-Corra, Executive Director of Market at Pepper Place and one of the conference organizers.

Alabama poet laureate Ashley M. Jones is expected to attend, as are former U.S. Senator Doug Jones and award-winning author Rick Bragg. Domestic guests include cookbook author and pastry chef Dorie Greenspan, New York Times correspondent for Southern Food and Culture, Kim Severson, editor of “LA Taco” and associate producer of “Taco Chronicles” of Netflix Javier Cabral, bestselling cookbook author and “Zoë Bakes” host Zoë Francois, Food52 founder Amanda Hesser, “Black Food” author Bryant Terry, Carrie Morey of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit and more.

It is no coincidence that the IACP is coming to Magic City.

Automatic Seafood and Oysters caused a sensation on the Birmingham food scene. (contributed)

“We chose Birmingham for our 43rd Conference because the city is one of the three major food media poles in the country. This is important to our more than 3,000 members, ”says Nancy Hopkins, President of the IACP. “Birmingham is really on the move as a major culinary city – and it’s not just for Southern food, but for food, period. Birmingham’s food scene is downright magical!

Foodies will likely find the range of events and experiences magical too. These events are designed to introduce visitors to Birmingham, its food culture and history, but there is a lot planned that locals may not have experienced yet. This is a great opportunity to do so.

It all starts on Friday, October 22 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. with the Sweet Home Street Party at Pepper Place. Presented by Sweet Home Alabama, the state’s official travel site, the evening features live music from the Birmingham All-Stars; in-store events at local retail spaces; pop-ups from artisans and a welcome toast from Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. Blueprint managers out of 3rd, Automatic Seafood & Oysters, Hot and Hot Fish Club, Bettola, Blueroot and more will share signature dishes at sampling stations.

There’s more that night, including incredible views and a tasting experience with Chef Tyler Lyne and Pastry Chef Jennifer Lyne from Tasting TBL at the John Hand Club downtown from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. And, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., there’s a fun pub crawl, run by the Birmingham Chapter of Dames d’Escoffier International and showcasing some of Birmingham’s best mixologists – Jess Bennett d’Aviné and Queen’s Owner Laura Newman Park and Neon Moon.

The festivities resume early Saturday morning. “I am very happy to share our wonderful Farmers Market with people from across the country,” said Sloss-Corra. “We’re world class, and they’re going to be able to see it in person.”

At a pop-up bookstore at the Farmers’ Market, hosted by Thank You Books at Yellowhammer Creative, you can pre-purchase the cookbooks that will be showcased at the IACP Media + Cookbook Awards on Saturday night. Nominated cookbook authors will sign their new books ready to give.

The mouthwatering baked goods are an important part of The Essential’s appeal. (Dennis Washington / Alabama NewsCenter)

One of these cookbooks will receive the top prize at the IACP Media + Cookbook Awards gala on Saturday night. Held in the iconic Casting Shed at Sloss Furnaces, this is the food media and cookbook industry’s first awards ceremony. Over 40 awards will include the IACP Cookbook of the Year, the IACP Trailblazer Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“There will be a surprise performance by the town’s musical theater troupe,” says Sloss-Corra. “And comedian Roy Wood Jr. will host and make us smile with the help of his good friend, Ruben Studdard.”

Food, as expected, is a huge draw at this conference, and the Alabama Tastemaker sessions allowed some of Birmingham’s top taste makers to share tips on entertainment, mixology, branding and more.

  • Pastry chef Kristen Farmer Hall of Bandit Patisserie and The Essential offers a sweet pate demonstration.
  • Dread River Distilling Co. co-founder John Cubelic shares craft cocktails perfect for fall using Dread River’s homemade syrups and spirits.
  • Sprouthouse founder Melany Robinson shares her secrets to building a better brand.
  • Designer Cyndy Cantley of Cantley & Co. offers tips for entertaining, with a focus on fall tables.
  • Chef Tyler Lyne and Pastry Chef Jennifer Lyne of Tasting TBL will cover both savory and sweet with a fall-themed chef demonstration.

While food is the focus, other notable aspects of communities and state are also highlighted. And it is here that the conference will entertain and inform visitors and locals.

OvenBird is one of the participants in IACP events. (contributed)

You can take a bike tour of the Birmingham National Civil Rights Monument in the Civil Rights District. There is a road trip to Montgomery to visit the National Peace and Justice Memorial and the Legacy Museum. There is a different trip to Marion for the Scott Peacock Biscuit experience. You can visit the Meredith Food Studios, the historic Sloss Furnaces site and the local distilleries.

Sunday’s opening keynote will focus on food and civil rights with Bryant Terry (the award-winning author of ‘Black Food’), as well as Dr Sephira Shuttlesworth and others who have helped articulate our story. and our personal history, ”Sloss-Corra said. . And one of the latest events on Monday is a tasty opportunity to learn about Birmingham’s vibrant Greek community and visit Holy Trinity Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Birmingham city center.

“This really is the weekend you don’t want to miss,” says Sloss-Corra. “Just plan to be here and experience the best that our city and state has to offer. We’re called the Magic City, and everyone will know why by the end of the weekend.

For more information or to view the full conference program, visit For tickets, visit EventBrite. Promo code IACPxBHAM30 gets you 30% off tickets to the Alabama Street Night, Awards Ceremony, and Tasting Sessions.

For more details on the Culinary Weekend, follow @iacppix, @pepperplacebham, and @marketatpepperplace on Instagram.

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