Behind the scenes with the 2016 Philly Chef Conference​

BMK Photography

You know their gnocchi. You’ve dreamt about their curries. You would do things you’d rather not admit for their fried chicken.

But how familiar are you with them? This Sunday, the Philly Chef Conference is open to the public for an insider’s look into the city’s flourishing restaurant industry.

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“The Philadelphia food scene is becoming a lot more knowledgeable. People who are into food aren’t just into going to restaurants anymore—they’re interested in how it’s prepared, where it’s coming from, the story behind it,” says conference organizer chef Michael Traud, who earned his stripes at Vetri and Zeppoli before becoming director of Drexel’s Hospitality Management Program, which is hosting this weekend’s forum.

Now in its third year, this Philly Chef Conference will feature two days of programming celebrating everything from bacon-laced artisan donuts to innovative start-ups addressing hunger in local communities. Although tickets are available to Sunday’s TED-talk inspired presentations, Monday is reserved for professionals. The chance to come together to learn and network — not to mention eat — is a rare and valuable one in a hectic, round-the-clock industry.

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“People come in on their day off to learn something new or meet someone new, and that’s a testament to the food scene in Philadelphia right now,” says Traud. “It really highlights the strength and unity of the city’s restaurants, chefs and food community.”

In preparation for this weekend’s conference, Drexel’s culinary students put their decadent spin on some of the city’s sweetest treats. The only thing that could possibly top their spicy Mexican chocolate donut with bacon developed for Federal Donuts? That would be their chocolate-covered pretzel and caramel ice cream created for Little Baby’s. That, kids, is what we call the Lord’s work—good on you.

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