Why NYC’s Bitten Is The Most Important Conversation In Food Today

The fundamental need for food is a unifying and humbling human experience. Though modern life has somewhat distanced us from the primal relationship we have with food, it remains the backbone of our everyday existence. Food lies at the heart of a greater conversation about who we are and what we believe in. 

Founded by Naz Riahi, Bitten is a conversation platform focused on innovation, creativity, and forces for change within the food industry. Bitten hosts its annual food conference, Bitten: A Food Conversation, each year in New York City. The day-long conference brings together innovators and thought-leaders in the food sphere and beyond to discuss all things fun, innovative, and socially relevant about food.  “Bitten is the most important food conversation in the country,” says Nasser Jaber, founder of Komeeda and a past Bitten speaker. “It’s the TedTalk of food.”


Photo by: Jennie Warren

As a yearly conference, Bitten brings together a unique mix of professionals from a wide range of fields each year. “Food is a unifier like no other ― it is a natural point of gathering and inspiration,” says Riahi. “Regardless of someone’s background or professional work, chances are, there is something they can find interesting in the food space.”

Although food is the overarching theme of the conference, it merely serves as a common ground for the plethora of socio-politically conscious topics that Bitten explores. Mitchell Davis, Chief Strategy Officer of the James Beard Foundation and past speaker at the Bitten conference, believes the omnipresent nature of food is what makes it such a natural meeting point. “Bitten mixes up the food sphere by bringing both famous foodies and newcomers to the conversation, each with a unique story to tell,” says Davis.  “The ubiquity and centrality of food that Bitten highlights truly provides an effective route into conversations about so many other issues.”

It’s an incredible thrill and an opportunity to think creatively about how to design inspiration loosely around a single topic,” Riahi shares as she spends a great deal of the year deciding on the programming for the annual event to ensure that the event’s themes are current.  “This year, the conference includes about five hours of highly curated talks ranging in topic from psychedelics to foraging to art to Anthony Bourdain to social justice.”

Some notable speakers for the 2018 conference include Laurie Woolever, who will speak about her late friend, mentor, and boss Anthony Bourdain, and Nasim Alikhani, chef and owner of NYC’s hottest new Persian restaurant, Sofreh.

“I think the breadth of the speakers and their stories is the biggest contribution of Bitten,” says Davis. “The diverse styles of presentations makes you think and contributes to the general mindfulness that we need in order to change our food and food system for the better.”

This year’s Bitten conference is not to be missed—Riahi encourages people of all walks of life and career paths to attend Bitten, and hopes that attendees take away a bite of inspiration.  “Bitten is designed to move, challenge and inspire its audience whether they are a banker, work in fashion, create art, or work in food,” says Riahi. “At last year’s Bitten, our audience laughed, cried, and talked about the magic of the day for months afterwards. This year will be no exception.”

To learn more about Bitten: A Food Conversation, or to purchase tickets, visit thisisbitten.com.