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Leading Culinary Minds Convene to Discuss Technology, Mentorship and Emerging Business Trends at the 27th Annual American Express Restaurant Trade ProgramAmerican Express Survey Finds Restaurant Operators are Optimistic About Business Growth and See Making Their Restaurants More Innovative as a Key Priority in Near Future
NEW YORK,  May 18, 2016 -- 

Chefs, restaurateurs and leaders in the hospitality industry will converge at the 27th annual American Express Restaurant Trade Program from June 16-19, 2016. An exclusive feature of the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, the program offers a forum for attendees to exchange business ideas and growth strategies, discuss industry trends and fortify relationships with peers. This year’s program will feature three panels that offer insights from best-in-class culinary talent on topics including technology’s impact on the restaurant industry, the role mentors have played in chefs’ and restaurateurs’ development, and how the industry is adapting and responding to current economic trends and changing consumer tastes.  To help drive the conversation, American Express today released the results of a national survey that gauged more than 500 restaurant operators’ perspectives on these topics.

According to the 2016 American Express Restaurant Trade Survey, restaurant operators are feeling bullish about the economic environment: 39% of restaurateurs said they see the economy improving and expanding opportunities for their businesses over the next six months, while another 32% expect their businesses to grow regardless of the economic climate. Technology is also critical to restaurateurs’ growth and innovation, as 87% of restaurant operators say incorporating technology would help them attract more customers, while 75% say their customers are asking for new technology solutions at least once a month. Mentors are also instrumental in restaurateurs’ business development: 59% of survey respondents reported having a mentor they consult with, and 93% of those restaurateurs say they have experienced a positive business impact as a result of having a mentor.

“American Express has been an advocate of the restaurant industry for over 30 years, providing merchants with insights and resources to help them scale their businesses,” said Gunther Bright, Executive Vice President of Merchant Services-U.S., American Express. “Restaurant operators see growing their businesses and making their restaurants more innovative as the two most important priorities, according to our survey, and the American Express Restaurant Trade Program creates an environment that fuels culinary inspiration and ideas to help drive the future of the industry.”

The schedule for the 27th annual American Express Restaurant Trade Program is as follows:

9:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. – T100: Meet the Masters: Adaptation

  • Moderated by: Andrew Zimmern (Chef, Author, Teacher; Host, Co-Creator & Co-Producer, Bizarre Foods on Travel Channel)
  • Panelists: Hugh Acheson (Chef, Restaurateur and Top Chef Judge), Tom Douglas (Chef/Owner, Tom Douglas Restaurants), Barbara Lynch (Chef, Restaurateur and Owner, Barbara Lynch Gruppo) and Tony Mantuano (Chef/Partner, Spiaggia)
  • Topics: Panelists will discuss the challenges and opportunities of remaining relevant in the industry, and how they adapted areas of their businesses to meet the demands of an ever-changing landscape.

1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. – T200: The Power of Mentorship

  • Moderated by: Andrew Zimmern
  • Panelists: Wylie Dufresne (Chef), Marcus Samuelsson (Author, Chef and Owner, Red Rooster Harlem, Ginny’s Supper Club, Streetbird Rotisserie), Christina Tosi (Chef, Author, MasterChef Judge and Founder & Owner of Milk Bar) and Jonathan Waxman (Chef, Author and Owner of Adele’s, Bajo Sexto Taco, Barbuto, Brezza Cucina, Jams, Waxman’s)
  • Topics: Moderator Andrew Zimmern will speak with two pairs of chefs that demonstrate the value of the mentor-mentee relationship. Panelists will discuss personal mentorship philosophies and share insights on how mentor relationships have influenced their careers and kitchens.

9:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. – T300: Technology’s Impact on the Hospitality Industry

  • Moderated by: Tyler Florence (Chef, Author, Owner and Television host of several Food Network shows)
  • Panelists: Maureen Cushing (Vice President of Technology and Processes, Union Square Hospitality Group), Michael Jacobs (Partner, Corner Table Restaurants) and Nic Jammet (Co-founder of Sweetgreen and Sweetlife)
  • Topics: Panelists will explore best practices and insights on the rapidly shifting landscape of restaurant technology and share key tips on adapting and thriving as this technology continues to evolve.

About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at and connect with us on,,,, and

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Note to Editors:
For more information on the 2016 American Express Restaurant Trade Program, please visit

Survey Methodology
The American Express Restaurant Trade Survey was conducted among a random sample of 503 U.S. restaurateurs, defined as those making the day-to-day financial decisions for the independently-owned business they own or manage.  The anonymous survey was conducted online by Ebiquity April 15 - 18, 2016. The results have an overall margin of error of +/- 4.4 at the 95 percent level of confidence.


Andrew R.

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