Dairy foods formulators come to the Windy City to learn about the latest and greatest in ingredient technology and food science

Located in the center of the United States on the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago, a vibrant, world-class city, plays host to this year's Institute of Food Technologist's Annual Meeting and Food Expo. Running July 12-16 at McCormick Place's South Building, this annual convention is an indispensable resource for information on science, technology, services and professional opportunities. Information presented at the convention can assist dairy foods product developers with their innovation efforts today, and in the future.

This year's convention theme--Navigating Change . . . Sound Science, Common Sense and a Spark of Innovation--will be depicted by the more than 800 Food Expo exhibitors who will be featuring ingredients and additives, processing and packing equipment and supplies, laboratory instrumentation and equipment, food industry services and more. The theme will be present throughout the technical program, which includes three hot topic sessions, more than 55 symposia and 1,800-plus technical sessions, some of which are interactive poster display discussions. (See shaded box for must-attend sessions for dairy foods manufacturers.)

Hopefully you are fortunate enough to extend your stay in Chicago to attend the 12th World Congress of Food Science and Technology conference, which immediately follow the IFT convention. This premier global event fosters international cooperation and exchange of information among scientists, food technologists and specialists in order to advance current knowledge and technologies in the areas of food processing, manufacturing, preservation, storage and distribution. The Congress' theme this year--Feeding the World -- Opportunities without Boundaries--is complete with plenary lectures and related discussion sections, symposia, round table discussions, poster sessions and more.

A bit on Chicago

While in Chicago, try to take time to experience this dynamic and culturally diverse city. Chicago is home to the blues, world-championship sports teams, an internationally acclaimed symphony orchestra, spectacular live theater, celebrated architecture, thousands of restaurants, a galaxy of museums, an array of shopping and the staff of Dairy Foods magazine. (Feel free to contact any of the staff for ideas on how to spend your free time.)

While in Chicago, if you are still hungry after a day of sampling suppliers' creations on the Food Expo floor, you will not have a difficult time finding a place to eat. Whether you prefer Chicago-style hot dogs or a burger, barbeque ribs or stuffed pizza, or ethnic fare such as pierogies, brats, gyros, sushi or fried rice, you're sure to find a restaurant to your liking.

If free time permits, two new attractions include one of the largest shark collections in North America, which is now at Shedd Aquarium. The new Wild Reef brings guests face-to-face with more than 30 sharks in a 400,000-gal tank. In addition, the aquarium offers the world's largest array of more than 8,000 aquatic mammals, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fish, as well as the magnificent Oceanarium. This is the world's largest marine mammal pavilion and home to Beluga whales, dolphins, Alaskan sea otters, seals and penguins.

The nearby Field Museum's special exhibit (until July 20) "Baseball As America" shows how our national pastime mirrors and influences our evolving culture. This is a must-see for any baseball enthusiast. The exhibit includes more than 500 artifacts including the legendary "Abner Doubleday baseball" and a ball rescued from the rubble of the World Trade Center. In addition, guests will enjoy the museum's mummies, Egyptian tombs, Native American artifacts and dinosaur skeletons.

And no summertime trip to Chicago is complete without a walk down Navy Pier, the city's free lakefront playground. Navy Pier offers visitors a unique blend of attractions, from the quiet, serene setting of the Crystal Gardens to the magnificent beauty of the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows. The Pier also boasts a 150-foot high Ferris wheel, a musical carousel, a beer-with-band garden, a variety of restaurants and other entertainment.

Chicago truly is the great American City, offering a range of attractions that keep visitors coming back. Hope to see you again in October for the Worldwide Food Expo.