Institute for the Future's Rebecca Chesney wows the audience at SKS. Image: Scott Payton

The Smart Kitchen Summit was last week and, just like many of you that attended, I had a blast. As it turns out, talking to the leading thinkers, innovators and executives across the food and cooking ecosystem about the future is not only inspiring, but it’s also really really fun.

When I decided to create SKS back in 2015, I suspected there might be a few others like me enthusiastic to get together and talk about how technology and innovation are helping us to rethink old approaches in the world of food and cooking.

I was right about that. What was I wrong about? I had no idea how many.

Since the first SKS, we’ve more than doubled the size of the event, expanded to two full days, and brought on amazing partners like Campbell Soup Company to highlight the innovation happening in the space. Leaders from global brands like Google, Whirlpool, Amazon, Sears and Vitamix spoke on stage at SKS about their visions for the future of food and cooking, while founders of leading startups like PicoBrew, June and Perfect Company told us about how they are reinventing old categories and creating entirely new ones.

I am really thankful to all who came to Seattle and shared their time with us.  I learned so much and will be writing about the things I’ve learned (and will learn; I will be watching the videos of the session in coming weeks and sharing them with you), but for now I want to share some pics taken by a few of us, including those captured by my friend Scott Payton, a wonderful event photographer who was on hand both days.

We will be share lots more pics in coming days via posts and over on our Facebook page, so you’ll want to check back here and there often.


The stage. Image: Ashley Daigneault

The day before SKS, Ashley Daigneault, Tiffany McClurg, and a few other SKS team members were down at Benaroya Hall working to set up while I was working off-site on last-minute preparations for talks and for the speaker dinner. We had decided to get one of those fancy stage backdrops since we thought it would not only look cool but also because thought it would create a better backdrop for videos and pictures. Ashley texted me the picture above just after the sign company had set it up on stage.

View from the stage before the event. Image: Michael Wolf

This is the view from the stage at 8 AM, about half an hour before we opened the doors to the room.

SKS morning during Evan Dash presentation. Image: Scott Payton

This is a great shot of the audience during the first session where Evan Dash talked about how to innovate in the kitchen and cooking.

Surj Patel talks with Chris Young of ChefSteps. Image: Scott Payton

One thing I wanted to do this year was capture some of what happens backstage. I love this photo of Surj Patel, who has taught me so much about the events business.  Here he’s talking to Chris Young, the CEO of ChefSteps. That’s Chris Albrecht, our Master of Ceremonies for the day, in the reflection.

The sponsor area on the promenade at Benaroya Hall. Image: Scott Payton

One of the things I love about Benaroya Hall is the view from the grand lobby out onto the city. This shot is a view from up on the promenade level looking towards the sponsor area.

Institute for the Future’s Rebecca Chesney wows the audience at SKS. Image: Scott Payton

Here is Rebecca Chesney giving a talk about creating a kitchen of actions.  I met Rebecca when I was visiting Google earlier this year and knew her perspective would be great for SKS. I was right. Her talk was excellent; deeply researched and unique. (Yes, we’ll have videos of the talks available soon).

Backstage at SKS. I’m talking to Brett Dibkey of Whirlpool and Brian Witlin of Yummly. Image: Scott Payton

Another backstage shot. I usually spend time talking to my panelists before we go out on stage, going over topics, formats, etc. Here I am talking to Brett Dibkey, head of brands at Whirlpool and Brian Witlin, CEO of Yummly. Ashley Daigneault is talking to Surj Patel in the background. I think Brian Witlin might be my long-lost brother.

Amanda Gold interviews Tyler Florence. Image: Scott Payton

The room is packed for Tyler Florence and Amanda Gold. They didn’t disappoint.

Andrew Deitz of Verdical pitches his company. Image: Scott Payton

Each year we try to make the Startup Showcase better. Last year we mixed the showcase part with happy hour, which was a hit. This year we decided to add a pitch session, which allowed the founders to articulate their company’s vision. This is Andrew Deitz, CEO of Verdical, giving a three-minute pitch for his company.

The judges listen to startup pitches. Image: Scott Payton

We had a rock star lineup of judges this year. This is a great shot of them sitting in the front row listening to the pitches. From closest to farthest: Evan Dash (StoreBound), Lisa McManus (America’s Test Kitchen), Brian Frank (FTW Ventures), Maura Judkis (Washington Post), Shakeel Farooque (Campbell Soup Company).

Richard Gunther and I enjoying a beer served up by HOPii. Image: Scott Payton

After the startups pitched from the main stage, we all went to happy hour where the startups then showcased their products.  After a long day, I made a beeline for HOPii’s table, where I knew I could get a beer from their beer brewing appliance. Richard Gunther of the Home: On podcast also partook.

Those are just a few shots from the first day. I and others from the team at the Spoon and SKS will be sharing more in coming days and weeks.

Again, I can’t thank those who came and spent time with us enough. We are so excited to be building this community with you. Keep in touch, send us your ideas for how to improve, and we look forward to bringing SKS back next year (including to Europe).

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  1. I was amazed at the quality of speakers as well as the attendees. You had all the right people there. One of the most well organized, highest quality events I’ve ever attended.

  2. Jim – What can we do next year, or even sooner, in Europe (Dublin) that would make this even better for you or others out there? That’s to you all out there – what would you like more of, what less of and what can we add? – Surj.

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