South Eastern IFT Food Industry Expo
Tuesday, February 5, 2019 • Cobb Galleria Centre, Atlanta, GA
Show Information


Exhibitor Registration
  Visitor Registration
  Seminar Schedule
  2019 Exhibitors
  2018 Exhibitors
  Driving Directions
  Staying Overnight?
  Contact Us

Show Produced by Events With Attitude


10:30AM - 11:20AM
"The Challenges of Developing a Food System for a Mars Mission"
Michele Perchonok 
President, IFT

The space food system for long duration space exploration missions provides the crew with safe, nutritious and acceptable foods for a minimum of three years during long duration missions, with minimal impact to vehicle resources and crew time. NASA is working towards future long duration manned exploration space flights beyond low earth orbit.  The duration of a Mars mission may be as long as 34 months due to the transit time and the orbits of the two planets.  Since there will be limited opportunity for resupply of food and the food may be positioned on the planet prior to crew arriving, it is expected that the required shelf life of the packaged food will be at least 5 years, without potentially the use of cold storage.  Even if the packaged food system could meet long duration requirements, the mass, volume, and waste quantities of a prepackaged system may excessively constrain mission resources.  In order to balance resource needs with food quality requirements, several provisioning options are being assessed, including use of the current prepackaged system, variations of bio-regenerative systems, and supplementation with calorie dense/mass reduced foods.  Although the primary use of food is nutrition to maintain crew health and performance, it also contributes to the psychosocial well-being of the crew; adding another level of complexity to the food system for long duration space missions.

Dr. Michele Perchonok received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at Brown University.  She earned her Masters and Ph.D. in Food Science from Cornell University.  Michele is retired from NASA where she managed the NASA Human Research Program (HRP) Science Management Office. In this position, she was responsible for the integration of the research to ensure crew health and performance in support of exploration missions.  Prior to this position, Michele as HRP Advanced Food Technology Manager, was responsible for space food product development, menu definition, nutritional requirements implementation, food processing, food packaging development, and the integration of NASA food science research for exploration space missions.  Prior to her work at NASA, Michele worked for The Quaker Oats Company and Riviana Foods.  Michele is an IFT Fellow, a Certified Food Scientist, and was awarded the IFT Calvert Willey Award in 2016.  Michele is currently the IFT President.

11:20AM - 12:10PM
"Forever Chocolate"
Making Sustainable Chocolate the Norm

Alex De Haydu
Director of Sales, West
Barry Callebaut
What does Sustainablility mean? What challenges do we face to ensure that chocolate remains available? What do we need to do to ensure success?

From chocolate chips to ganache to nutrition bar coatings and RTD's, Alex has worked on them all.

He has spent 30 years with the major chocolate manufacturers; he'll present the science of chocolate in a useful product development manner.  
Alex also covers QA and plant processing issues; if he hasn't encountered your problem, he knows someone who has.  His network is unbelievable, and not just in confectionery.
Alex has given presentations to nutrition, food science and pharmaceutical audiences in the US and abroad.  He's been a great resource to IFT, AACT and Slow Food groups over the years.

Currently Alex is "Director of Sales, West" for the Barry Callebaut company.  And, yes, he'll bring many of their chocolate samples!

12:10PM- 12:50PM
Lunch Break
Subway, Murph's, Big Chow Grill located in Cobb Galleria Center
12:50PM - 1:40PM

"Plant Proteins: Moving to the Center of the Plate"

Rody Hawkins, Ph.D., President & Chief Executive Officer
Improved Nature LLC
The global plant based meat market is about $4.6 billion with an annual growth rate of 6.8%.  This demand has created frozen “Plant Protein” sections in most supermarkets and now they are moving to the refrigerated case.  While these products are getting closer to meat, can they replace meat for flavor, nutrition, versatility, and texture?  The answer is yes and this is what we are doing every day at Improved Nature.  

Dr. Rody Hawkins has over 30 years of experience with developing and implementing new food products and solving complex problems for many large, medium and small food companies. He has done contract work for over 100 different food companies and he worked for two of the largest US food companies: Oscar Mayer Foods, a division of Kraft-Heinz and ConAgra Foods. For Oscar Mayer in the 1980s he created the concept and product known as “Lunchables” and for ConAgra in the late 1980s through the 1990s he developed the technology that led to the growth of the meat snack market.  Using this knowledge, he developed shelf stable rations for the US Military, NATO Militaries, and UN feeding programs.

Now, Rody and his business partners have turned their attention on developing and implementing new food products from plants.  Improved Nature was established in 2014 and has a proprietary technology that allows it to make fibers out of plant protein.  These fibers are formed together to make various shapes that have the texture, taste, look, nutritional profile, cooking parameters, and eating sensation as meat and fish products.  This technology is so flexible, efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective that it can seamlessly replace meat products without giving up any of its perceived benefits.

1:40PM - 2:30PM
"Positioning Plant Proteins to Perform"

Cian E Leahy CRC, CCS
Chef, Kerry Food Service

Plant-based or meatless product claims on new retail product launches and on menus are in rapid growth; however, how do you position these products specific to your consumer base? Whether through consumer-specific messaging, imagery, menu applications or food preparation we'll discuss ways brands, restaurants and ingredient companies can position their plant protein products to survive in this cluttered marketplace.

Growing up in Ireland, I was always surrounded by food, whether on the farm or watching my Nana’s cook, I knew I would end up doing something with food. 
While attending University of Wisconsin – Madison for my BS in Food Science I worked part time in a burger restaurant but it wasn’t until my Junior year that I thought to myself, analytical food science really isn’t for me, I want to be more creative.  A professor of mine thought the same thing and suggested I look into the Corporate Chef or Research Chef side of the industry.  The more I learned about it the more I was hooked. 
After graduating, I decided that this is what I want to do.  I then enrolled in Johnson & Wales but before committing, I thought I should really figure out if the Kitchen is where I belong or just a romantic idea.  I decided to do an apprenticeship in a fine dining restaurant and did that for free.  I knew early on that I had made the right decision.
During my Culinary education, I became involved in the RCA and did a lot of cold calling (not asking for a job) to get advice, and boy did I get it!  A few years later, I took and entry level food science roll at Leprino Foods with the goal of utilizing my culinary talents.  I ended up starting their culinary program and leading their culinary team for 8 years.
From there I took a Director of Savoury Applications roll at Kerry.  Focusing more on our Sauce/Meals end us market as well as Food Service.  I have been at Kerry now for 5+ years and am dedicated to Food Service.  Working on PlantFare from its inception has been a fantastic journey.  It has been the perfect marriage of Culinary, Food Science, and Consumer Insights.  Understanding the consumer is what really drives my innovation.  To be able to create menu items that resonate with the consumer, are on trend, and work in the back of the house, that’s a win!


SEIFT New Professionals Forum for Students
 "Successful Transition from a Student to New Professional (Academia/Industry)"

Susan Mungai (The Coca Cola Company
Tamanna Ramesh (Nutritional Resources, Inc.)
Emefa Monu (Auburn University)
Shantrell Willis (Alabama A&M University),
Elsina Hagan (Life University)
Ariana Frangos (Caldic)
Andi Thornbury (