Foodies Flock to the Food Lab Conference in Southampton

This year’s Food Lab Conference will celebrate the dynamic nature of food
Bobby Flay will speak at this year’s Food Lab conference at Stony Brook Southampton.

For decades, serious foodies have been coming to the East End to partake of the simple pleasures of its summer produce and seafood. Later, they showed up at harvest time for its wine tastings and fine restaurants. More recently, they have left the city to live here year round and produce their own organic food products, such as heirloom wheat, honey, beer, distilled spirits, and fermented vegetables.

This year’s Food Lab Conference, to be held at Stony Brook Southampton the weekend of June 9, will celebrate this dynamic nature of food, both nationally and close to home, from 1970 through the near future. Speakers will include Bobby Flay, Michel Nischan, and David Barber.  

On Friday, a V.I.P. reception at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Science on Shinnecock Bay will welcome major donors, panelists, and other grandees with cocktails, and a seafood bar. A discussion with Mr. Flay and a general reception will follow. He will discuss his own take on food, cooking, and food television, where he has become famous as one of its earliest and continuing stars.  

Mr. Barber, with his brother Dan Barber, owns Blue Hill, a 138-acre family farm in Great Barrington, Mass. The farm became the inspiration for restaurants in Greenwich Village and at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Westchester County, where he is a founding partner. Both Blue Hill restaurants have been honored with the James Beard Outstanding Restaurant Award. He is also an “angel investor,” providing seed money to start-up food and hospitality companies. His talk will be focused on future food trends and the role of new technologies in guiding them.

A chef and leader in the sustainable food movement — and another James Beard Foundation Award winner — Mr. Nischan is the founder, president, and chief executive of Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit that increases access to healthy food in low-income areas. He is also a founder of the Chefs Action Network, and a founder and partner in the former Dressing Room Restaurant with Paul Newman, the actor, food marketer, and benefactor, who died in 2008. He will discuss food activism.

Participants in panels or other events will include Tanya Steel, the founder of the Obama White House Kids Healthy Cooking initiative; Florence Fabricant, an author and New York Times food writer; Alex Prud’homme, a biographer of Julia Child; Leslie Merinoff, the founder of Matchbook Distillery, and Claudia Fleming, the chef and owner of the North Fork Table and Inn. 

Panel discussions will address the history of and recent trends in restaurants, home cooking, beverages, and nutrition. Cheryl Stair, of the South Fork caterer Art of Eating, will be the chef for the gala dinner on Saturday. Hamptons Aristocrat, Martine Abitbol, and Bex Waffles food truck will provide other food for the conference. 

This year, the organizers have restructured the conference to free up Sunday for relaxing or other personal pursuits with all activities and events taking place on Friday and Saturday only.

Discounted early-bird tickets will be on sale at the Food Lab website through Monday for $100 for general admission. After that, the price for the weekend rises to $150. Discounted tickets for students and farmers are available for $75. The V.I.P. cocktail party costs $2,500.

This article has been updated from the print version to include a recent change to the Food Lab conference's schedule. Bobby Flay, who was originally scheduled to speak at the V.I.P. reception, will now speak to all conference participants on June 9.