Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Recap: FNCE 2013

Last week was the Academy's Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo in Houston. I have never been to Texas before and was thrilled to enter the land of cowboys and rodeos... or at least that's what I had in mind. My flight to Houston was smooth sailing. Nobody sat next to me so, I picked up my feet and slept for 4 hours straight. Houston, we do not have a problem.

After I dropped off my bags at the hotel, I met up with my friends and mentors, Sharon Palmer and McKenzie Hall for a tapas lunch at Batanga.  I haven't seen these two since my California dream ended early September. Our times together are always filled with undeniably good food and laughs. We shared the chickpea puree (aka hummus) with flatbread, yucca fries which came with a very interesting banana ketchup, and a kale salad. This was just what I needed for a pre-conference meal.

And we were off to the convention center...

McKenzie and I were hired by the Tomato Products Wellness Council to work at their booth in the expo hall. The booth was looking fierce! Everything was tomato red, including a beautiful Coach purse that was the grand raffle prize. It was an amazing opportunity to work for Roger, the main man behind Tomato Wellness. On Sunday night, he hosted a classy tomato cocktail hour filled with bar bites and elaborate wine tastings. While at the booth, I met more dietitians than I ever expected to before arriving to FNCE. Whether it was a quick, "Hello," or a "Nice to meet you," I was on cloud-9! Keri Gans, David Grotto, Bridget Swinney, and Corinne Dobbas were just some of the dietitians I had the pleasure of meeting. I think my face in the picture below just screams, "A young dietitian's dream come true!"

David Grotto & Me.

When I wasn't at the tomato booth, I was wandering around the convention center halls. More tables of dietitians, books, and products lined the aisles. There was so much to soak in I had to keep a notebook and a camera on me at all times. This is when I ran into the fabulous, Robin Plotkin. I had been anticipating this moment since the time I stepped foot into the conference. I have been an intern for Robinsbite since May and have never met the woman! Since she is located in Texas and I am in New York so, our conversations consist of a lot of video chats and conference calls. Once we spotted eachother, in person, it was as if we had already met years ago. She gave me the biggest bear hug I will never forget! Robin was accompanied by the lovely Regan Jones and Holly Grainger, both two dietitians I look up to as a student in dietetics.

Chef Ryan Perra at The Grove Restaurant.

The rest of the conference included networking events, dinners, and lots of wine. These were great opportunities to not just say, "hello," but carry out an actual conversation with some experts in the field. At the Oldways reception, they announced the new Vegetarian and Vegan Diet Pyramid with the help of their nutrition consultant, Sharon Palmer. Later, at Ashley Koff's Allergen reception, dietitians were encouraged to speak up in an open ended conversation to fight the good fight and discuss solutions to food allergies and intolerances. I have to send a special shout out to Ashley for the amazing swag bag that was filled with yummy goodies.

After attending FNCE 2013, this RD-to-be is feeling motivated, inspired, and ready to take action! After spending hours upon hours in class, this was the perfect reminder of why this career choice was indeed the right one. There is so much to look forward to as I graduate this December.

{With a lot to celebrate - McKenzie and I finished off strong with sangria & dessert}

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