With the New Year upon us, it’s time to start planning for the upcoming convention season.

With the New Year upon us, it’s time to start planning for the upcoming convention season, including the “Best Week in Baking” by the American Society of Baking and BEMA, the Bakery Equipment Manufacturers & Allieds association. ASB’s BakingTech 2010, which runs from Feb. 28-March 3, features a number of traditional events such as the Fifth Annual Baking Hall of Fame Ceremony along with some new wrinkles, including the complimentary “A Taste of Chicago” luncheons on March 1 and 2.

Moreover, the technical conference will change up its opening reception with an “ASB After Dinner Welcome Reception,” which runs from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at Howl at the Moon Dueling Pianos in Chicago. The conference also features ASB’s Town Hall Meeting where experts in the baking industry will discuss the Top 10 topics on March 3. The ASB Marketplace runs for three days in the afternoon from Feb. 28-March 2, providing more bonus time for networking for attendees.

At BEMA’s Winter Summit, which runs Feb. 27-28, the Sunday luncheon keynote speaker is Bill Rancic, winner of the first season of NBC’s The Apprentice and current contributor to the show. BEMA’s Lifetime Achievement awards will also be presented at the luncheon.

Also on Feb. 28, a panel of bakers with a variety of product lines will highlight the Educational Session. Panelists include Willie Zimberoff, president of Morton Grove, Ill.-based Z Baking; George Poulos, vice president of manufacturing for Chicago-based Alpha Baking Co.; and Dave Van Laar, president and CEO of Wenona, Ill.-based Oak State Products.