First Honey Summit on September 26 in Chicago

by Erin Canetta

11 October, 2012

One of our biggest undertakings of 2012 has been our first Honey Summit, hosted by the National Honey Board at Kendall College in Chicago. This was a full day event of presentations, demonstrations and an afternoon workshop where all the attendees had the opportunity to bake with honey. We started planning this event back in March and it took most of the TAG team to organize. And although many hours of sleep were lost as the date approached, it was one of the most enjoyable and unifying projects we’ve had.

The day started with a very interesting Baking Industry Trends study presented by John Unrein, Editor of Bake Magazine. John’s study focused on how the consumer is changing and becoming increasingly focused on natural products.

Keith Seiz gave back-to-back presentations. The first covered the use of honey in the baking industry. This was a fun presentation allowing all the attendees to sample a wide array of honeys. As we sampled these, Keith let everyone know what the practical use of each is as well as any substitution facts. His second presentation addressed engaging customers with honey. This was a demographic study on the current health of the average person globally and how honey can impact a healthier life choice in our everyday diets.

Heather Henstock, a baking industry writer and former editor of Modern Baking Magazine, presented honey case studies. She took us through how big wholesale bakers are using honey in their products and how honey is a selling point for brands.

Kendall College treated everyone to a wonderful lunch with honey infused options of chicken and salmon while Melina Kelson, Master Baker and Instructor at Kendall, demonstrated baking with honey. This was very much a hands-on demonstration and attendees were invited up to get a close look at what Melina was doing as well as freely ask any questions.

The last presentation was given by, Baking Industry Research Consultant, David Ropa. David has worked with the National Honey Board for twenty years researching honey substitutions in baking products. He brought many samples along for everyone to sample the same product baked with sugar, stevia, honey and other sweeteners. It was interesting to sample these products together and really taste the difference. He gave substitution specifics and was able to answer a lot of technical questions for the attendees.

We moved into an afternoon workshop where everyone put on their baker’s whites and tried their hand at honey cookies, honey carrot muffins, honey mousse, honey slipper bread, morning buns, pecan sticky buns and/or honey cake. This was a fun session that allowed everyone to express them selves, socialize and share ideas. And the taste-testing was definitely the best part. Everyone was a winner and everyone walked away knowing a lot more about honey.

In the weeks since, we are still hearing nice things from the bakers who attended. We were able to create awareness for a great product that benefits our society’s health habits. It doesn’t get much better than that!