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Katie Ayoub is managing editor of Flavor & The Menu, a national foodservice publication that specializes in flavor trends. The magazine's annual Top 10 Trends issue gives chefs a primer on emerging trends and how to leverage them, aiming to inspire recipe innovation. Flavor & The Menu focuses on flavor because that's what drives menus and entices diners. The magazine is a trusted authority on flavor trends. 

Previously, Katie was editor in chief of Sizzle magazine, contributing editor to The National Culinary Review and managing editor of Chef magazine. She has also written for Culinology, Foodservice Director, Restaurant Business and Pizza Today. Katie has been avidly following and reporting on food trends for 15 years. Growing up, she was lucky enough to be immersed in Latin culture, living in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Panama.  A graduate of Northwestern University, she and her husband made their home in Chicago for 10 years. After her son was born, her family moved up to Toronto for eight years. Now, she and her husband Mischa, as well as her two pretty wonderful kids, call the Chicago suburbs home.

Katie will co-host a session on Food Trends at this year's IFBC.

Jess Thomson is a food writer and recipe developer whose work appears in magazines nationwide. She is the author of seven cookbooks, including Pike Place Market Recipes and A Boat, a Whale, and a Walrus, written with Seattle chef Renee Erickson, and is currently working on her first essay collection, called A Year Right Here: Essays on Food and Life in the Pacific Northwest. Find out more about her experiences blending food and life at her blog, hogwash, at

Jess will be leading the Honing the Craft writing session at IFBC.


Photo by Clare Barboza

Tara Austen Weaver is a writer and editor who focuses on the topics of travel, food, culture, and the environment. She is editor of Edible Seattle magazine and author of The Butcher & The Vegetarian, Tales from High Mountain, and the recently released memoir Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family How to Grow. She also writes the award-winning blog Tea & Cookies.

Tara will lead The Plan & The Pitch session at IFBC this year.

We are super excited to announce another business coming to our Friday night Welcome Reception! Marx Foods is a small, retail show on lower Queen Anne in Seattle, that offers specialty food items ranging from wild game meat to syrup. While they’re based in Seattle, they actually services restaurants and foodies across the country with an awesome online store.

Up until 2007, the Marx family serviced private customers from about 400 of the top restaurant chefs in the country - traditionally, they were set up as a boutique high-end restaurant distributor. Run by Justin Marx, Marx Foods is a new addition to this 5th generation family business (based on the east coast) that has long catered exclusively to chefs. With the launch of Marx Foods, they opted to make specialty food products available to individual consumers. Lucky us! Now, home chefs can buy the finest and freshest foods just like the pro chefs who are driving food trends.

We invited them to the Welcome Ceremony on Friday for their keen ability to foresee food trends, their vast selection of curated food goods and their deep knowledge of both Pacific NW food producers and global players.

Marx Foods is one of the few food retailers that actually taste tests all the products on the shelves. They stock things that are hard to find, even in Seattle’s abundant specialty food scene – game meats, a huge range of exotic chilies, molecular gastronomy ingredients…plus items you’ve probably never seen before (pinecone bud syrup or buzz buttons, anyone?). The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and endearingly nerdy about food and they’re coming to show off some of their favorite products to us!


The Robbins family founded Hama Hama Oyster Company in 1922, out on the eastern slopes of the Olympic Mountains. Hugging the coast, this family farm grows and sells Christmas trees, grass-fed beef along with their noteworthy bivalves which receive national recognition from food lovers everywhere. 

Hama Hama has been putting Northwest oysters on the map for generations (now helmed by president Kendra Robbins, with Lissa James Monberg and Adam James managing the shellfish business) and counts major accounts in Boston, New York City and San Francisco among its clients. Half of its harvest is shipped to high-end restaurants, such as Meritage in St. Paul, and Le Bernardin and the Grand Central Oyster Bar in Manhattan. Its Blue Pool oyster was featured in Bon Appétit last year as one of the “Nine Oysters You Need to Know Now,” and the Hama Hama oyster farm will soon be spotlighted on National Geographic Wild’s show Jobs That Bite. This year, they added some new projects to the line up - an oyster shucking/tasting/cooking classes, timber tasting huts on the Lilliwaup farm (that allow for sheltered beachfront dining of just-shucked oysters and bowls for steamed clams from the retail store) and spring harvest events during which people can harvest, shuck and gorge themselves on the bounty of the Hamma Hamma tide flats.

We are thrilled to have these notable oysters at our Friday Night Welcome Reception. Be sure to stop by and taste their unique northwest brininess after checking in for the conference. And for anyone who can't wait, you can order a dozen to shuck at home direct from Hama Hama.




Register for 2015!

$195: Active Food Bloggers

$495: Non-Bloggers
(Industry, Media Relations Professionals, etc.)

Who Should Attend

Bloggers, Food Writers & Cookbook Authors

Publishers, Agents & Editors

Food Brand / Restaurant Marketers

Public Relations Professionals

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