Powerhouse Black Women in Food Summit ignites audience with cutting-edge trends, stories of courage, more – slideshow

The sold-out D.C. event by Dine Diaspora offered a vibrant marketplace, insightful panel discussions on everything from food activism to CPG development, and a pitch competition awarding one winner $10,000.

Audarshia Townsend, Content Director, Food & Beverage Insider

May 2, 2024

15 Slides

At a Glance

  • New Bon Appétit editor ignited the Black Women in Food Summit with a call to action: Build confidence through competence.
  • More than just industry knowledge, the summit fostered a space for Black women to connect, celebrate and empower each other.
  • The event offered business resources, industry insights on food trends and a celebratory atmosphere across the food system.

Jamila Robinson ignited the room when she uttered these words to a sold-out audience at Dine Diaspora’s annual Black Women in Food Summit: “You don’t have imposter syndrome. You lack confidence. You are temporarily incompetent. You can build confidence by becoming more competent.”

The newly installed editor-in-chief of legacy food media brands Bon Appétit and Epicurious magazines served as keynote speaker at the industry-driven event in Washington, D.C. that attracted Black women from every level of the global food system. Yours Truly moderated the fireside chat that inspired her to talk so candidly in front of the audience. The hour-long conversation was the main event and the perfect finale for the two-day summit, which also included panel discussions on food activism, mental wellness, raising capital for projects, and innovations and trends in food and beverage production.

Additionally, there was a marketplace featuring more than 20 vendors, interactive sessions and a pitch competition sponsored by New Voices Foundation. Grand prize winner Candy Schibli of Southeastern Roastery took home a $10,000 check for her Maryland-based coffee business.

While most panels focused on the foodservice and hospitality industries, “Flavors of the Future,” moderated by Yours Truly, highlighted the latest happenings in food and beverage development. The expertise and experience on this panel ran deep and proved to be invaluable for attendees, who were predominantly emerging and veteran consumer packaged goods (CPG) developers.

Related:CuliNEX pioneers clean label food revolution, driving healthier eating trends

The panel consisted of Cathy Barnes, a veteran marketer from PIC Agency; Nadia Kemal, an experienced food-tech entrepreneur serving as managing partner at Tamamie Group; food safety and regulatory expert Tia Glave, co-founder of Catalyst LLC; and Adaeze Okoli, chief of staff at Rethink Food, an innovative food rescue organization based in New York.

The conversation ranged from eco-friendly packaging for beverages to whether alternative sweeteners were indeed a good alternative to cane sugar to how to best develop healthier products for Black consumers.

Black Women in Food Summit founders Nina Oduro and Maame Boakye — partners of SupplySide’s Food & Beverage Insider media brand — clearly have a hit on their hands with the Black Women in Food Summit, but it’s more about establishing a safe space for this unique community than anything else.

“This space is made for you,” Boakye said to the audience before a Champagne toast. “This is an opportunity for us to really celebrate ourselves, to nurture our bodies, our minds and our spirits, and to really empower ourselves.”

Related:‘Sustainability’ needs new clarity

The following slideshow offers a glimpse of the summit’s experience over the exciting two days.

About the Author(s)

Audarshia Townsend

Content Director, Food & Beverage Insider, Informa Markets

A lifelong Chicagoan, Audarshia Townsend is an award-winning, veteran food and beverage journalist who serves as the content director for the Food & Beverage Insider brand. She is Informa Markets' 2024 "Star Storyteller" winner. Her experience as a visionary editor and writer spans 30 years, with an emphasis in print and digital magazines. Audarshia's professional passion is to champion and amplify underserved business communities. Some of her most recent content includes her review of 2023's F&B trends, the future of food science careers, an interview with culinary star Padma Lakshmi, and Pescavore's sustainable ahi tuna jerky strips. She also appears regularly on local and national media outlets to discuss food and beverage trends, most notably FOX-32 Chicago, WGN-TV, WXRT-FM, NPR-Chicago and the Travel Channel. She is often called on to serve as a judge for prestigious food, beverage and restaurant awards, including the James Beard Foundation, NEXTY Awards and Black Women in Food. She continues to write for Chicago magazine, and previously she has written for the likes of the Chicago Tribune, Eater Chicago, Esquire, Essence, Los Angeles Times, Playboy, Time Out Global and World’s Best Bars. With food and beverage being her longtime, chosen beat in media, she has created content for a number of prestigious brands such as AOL, Google, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, Lexus, MasterCard, Markon Cooperative Inc., Miller Brewing Co., Resy and Simplot Foods.

To date, Audarshia has guest lectured at the following higher-education institutions: Columbia College Chicago and Loyola University Chicago for undergraduate journalism students; Northwestern University for graduate journalism students; and Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) for undergraduate, graduate and PhD food science students. She also mentors aspiring young writers and journalists whenever she can. Email her at [email protected] and also connect with her on LinkedIn.

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