The American Society of Baking (ASB) celebrates the resilience of the baking industry with its 2023 BakingTech conference, planned for Feb. 28-March 2 in Chicago. 

BakingTech’s 2023 Chair Brittny Ohr, director of product development for Sugar Foods Corp., New York City, aims to honor the legacy and progress of the baking industry past with an eye to the future through the 2023 conference theme of Resilience: Sustaining Traditions and Forging the Future. To do that, Ms. Ohr and her planning committee have not only put together a robust educational program but also built on the successful elements of past BakingTech conferences.

“The resilience of the baking industry isn’t just about the pandemic, but it goes back multiple generations,” Ms. Ohr explained. “Growing up in this industry, you experience a genuine daily culture of resilience. Any challenge that comes, people don’t waver or give up; they dig deeper and get it done. That’s a spirit we want to honor with BakingTech, and we want people to leave BakingTech with better resources so they can overcome the obstacles they face every day.”

This year’s keynote speaker — Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour — has experienced her fair share of trials as the United States’ first Black female combat pilot. Ms. Armour will share her own story of resilience in a presentation tailored to ASB’s audience. 

Education in both technical and the general sessions will touch on current themes the baking industry is experiencing: trends, sustainability and technology. Two 360° panels will offer three perspectives on each panel’s topic: One will focus on consumer trends and the other on the bakery of tomorrow. Two keynote panels on Thursday will discuss implementing DEI initiatives and sustainability with Grupo Bimbo, Mexico City, presenting on zero net carbon emissions and Airly Foods, St. Louis, on carbon negative emissions. In the technical sessions this year, ASB is striving to focus on the baker’s perspective. 

“Every technical session will have either a baker speaker or if it’s an allied speaker, there will be a baker present to share their perspective,” said Monica Kline, director of business operations and education, The EnSol Group, and program chair for BakingTech 2023. 

Bakers will also be front-and-center at the Marketplace. Attendees will not only network with exhibitors representing equipment, ingredient and service suppliers, but they will also hear from bakers at the new Bread Talks stage. Bread Talks will be Ted Talk-style presentations put on by bakers around the theme of resilience. Each talk will be 10 minutes long with a 5-minute Q&A session. Marketplace exhibitors will also have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with bakers during an invite-only Marketplace coffee break on Wednesday morning. 

Other new networking opportunities include the Brain Exchange, a revamped version of Brain Dates, where attendees can meet one-on-one or in small groups around a topic, either business-related or not.

Attendees can also expect Marketplace Casino Night to close out the conference on Thursday, though Ms. Kline said the planning committee is intent on infusing BakingTech 2023 with even more fun. Casino Night will feature improved prizes, and there will be several games sprinkled throughout the conference’s programming, including a video contest. 

With all the industry has endured in the past few years, bakers are ready for a little fun and celebration of how far they’ve come.