Local food producers are about to get a leg up in Arizona’s hospitality industry.
On September 16, Local First Arizona Foundation is organizing the Arizona Farmer + Chef Connection, hosted for the first time in Tucson at the Tucson Convention Center after five years in Phoenix. This unique event will bring together local producers and food buyers from restaurants and hotels across the state, forging wholesale business relationships at the local level.
The highlight is an all-day Suppliers’ Marketplace, where Arizona’s best local food products will be showcased. Participating vendors will be showcasing displays and samples of their products in hopes of building state-wide connections.
“Given the busy schedules of our people, The Farmer + Chef Connection gives our chefs and soon to be chefs a great opportunity to speak face to face with the farms and producers they buy from every week,” said Paul Moir of SLO Restaurant Concepts, the company behind downtown Tucson’s Proper, and a key player in locally-sourced cuisine. “It’s also a chance to meet new producers they may not have otherwise found.”
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The public is invited to come enjoy the featured products, hear from local experts and learn about the systems and advantages of sourcing locally. Breakout sessions will occur throughout the day, with notable speakers from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Local Alternative Food Manufacturing, and Local First Arizona. Sessions are open to all attendees.
Breakout Session Topics
- Water Conservation and Your Bottom Line
- Food Waste: Reduce, Reuse, Renew
- How To: Farm to Institution
- Leveraging Your Localism and Maximizing Your Connections
- What Buyers Want and What Producers Need: Sealing the Deal
Panelists include Marco Bianco of The Bianco Group, Stewart Jacobs of the Arizona Department of Agriculture, Manish Shah of Maya Tea and Heirloom Farmers Markets, Derrick Widmark of Diablo Burger, and special guest Gary Nabhan of Sustainable Food Systems at University of Arizona, amongst others.
A reception will close out the day for attendees featuring appetizers (locally-sourced, of course), as well as Arizona beer and wine.
The main event is from 12 to 5:30pm, while the reception takes place from 5:30 to 7:30pm. General admission tickets are $10. Vendor packages are available.
For more information, visit localfirstazfoundation.org.