Opening Keynote


Lars Williams

co-founder of empirical spirits

former Head of Research and Development at Noma

Born and bred in New York City, Lars grew up in the West Village and went to high school in Brooklyn before attending Wesleyan University for a degree in literature. He somehow found himself working as a set designer for commercials and music videos until he became entirely disenchanted with that business and focused on making his compulsion with cuisine a profession. Enrollment at The French Culinary Institute was a springboard to New York restaurants, including Aquavit and WD-50. Europe was the next destination and he landed in the development kitchen at The Fat Duck. Feeling a lack of sun, he went off to cook in the South Pacific for a year, honing rudimentary foraging skills before moving to Denmark to work at Restaurant Noma. Lars is now co-founder of the free-form spirits distillery and fermentation workshop, Empirical Spirits.