The Annual LDEI Conference, this year held in Boston at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, was a tremendous success, with the highest conference attendance in years. There was representation from all chapters, including Canada and London.
For those who arrived by Thursday, there were terrific and intimate tours of Boston’s many neighborhoods and attractions, including the Italian North End (led by Dame Michele Topor) and the Best of Beacon Hill (led by Dame Judith Ackerman). Following the Opening Reception at the hotel, many opted to participate in the Restaurant Dine Around, which included Dame Jody Adams’ Rialto Restaurant, Dame Lydia Shire’s Scampo, and Dame Mary Dumont’s Harvest.
Friday’s keynote, “Women in Whites: Where Would the Food World Be Without the Women?” was delivered by chef and TV personality Sara Moulton, who spoke to the complex issue of why female food professionals receive less media attention than they deserve. A roundtable on Women, Food and the Media followed. Well-concepted concurrent sessions were held both before and after the Partners’ Showcase luncheon. The evening ended on a high note—literally—as buses whisked the Dames and their guests to the Prudential Center Skywalk Observatory for “Spirits, Soul and Season,” a Halloween celebration up on the 50th floor. The panoramic 360-degree view of Boston was spectacular, as were the costumes, the cocktails and the food, an updated New England-style clambake.
Saturday’s plenary sessions included “Serving Up the World,” a lecture of global perspectives and hot food trends, and “Creating Strategies for Success in Business and in Life.” Another round of concurrent sessions, and then it was on to the Legacy Awards Luncheon, where we got the chance to hear directly from the 6 winners about their life-changing experiences.
The Chicago Chapter had five member Dames present at the LDEI Council of Delegates: Shannon Kinsella, Judith Hines, Mary Reidy McMahon, Patty Erd and President Julie Chernoff. Additional Chicago members present at the conference were Brenda McDowell, Toria Emas, Veronica Hastings, Karen Levin and new LDEI Board Secretary Sharon Olson.
Saturday evening marked the closing of the conference festivities with the M.F.K. Fisher Awards Banquet, held at the hotel. Winner Nina Mukerjee Furstenau, journalism professor at Missou and author of “Biting Through the Skin” (which, incidentally, we just read in our Dames Who Read bookgroup!), spoke movingly about her experiences. An after party, complete with cash bar and live music, proved that the Dames know how to boogie with the best of them.
Can’t wait for next year’s conference in Charleston, South Carolina. This year we had ten members in attendance, but I think we can do better! Hope to see you there.