Tucson City of Gastronomy to promote localism with new restaurant certification program

The program will push our restaurants and food system in positive directions.

Non-profit organization Tucson City of Gastronomy (TCoG), which manages the UNESCO City of Gastronomy designation for metro Tucson and southern Arizona, announced a new restaurant certification and promotion program for qualifying Tucson restaurants.

“Our goals for this program are to recognize locally owned restaurants that are connected to the rest of the local food system and the community, and to create buzz and more business for them,” said Jonathan Mabry, executive director of TCoG.

Visit Tucson will promote the certified restaurants to visitors, while TCoG will promote the restaurants locally.

“We’re eager to get this new program underway so restaurants can become recognized for cooking with local heritage foods, using sustainable practices, and engaging the community,” said TCoG president, James Beard award-winning chef, and restaurateur Janos Wilder. “In doing so, we continue to build the Tucson City of Gastronomy brand so that locals and visitors alike are guided to restaurants that serve the flavors of Tucson.”

Applications open

The certification program for 2020 is now open for applications. To qualify, applicants will need to meet specific criteria, including but not limited to local ownership and a scratch kitchen. They must also self-select from a matrix of other criteria for a score high enough to qualify. In addition, they will also need to describe what their business is currently doing to meet elective criteria. The application deadline is December 16, 2019.

Click here to apply.

Tucson’s growing food scene and economic growth are both partly attributed to Tucson’s designation as the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the US in 2015. Between 2016 and 2018, visitor spending increased 13% to nearly $2.5 billion, Visit Tucson reports. During the same period, visitor spending at restaurants increased by 13.8%.

“We think that this program, over time, will push our restaurants and food system in positive directions and bring more business to the restaurants that are preserving our food heritage and are community-minded,” Mabry said.

Learn about the program and apply today at tucson.cityofgastronomy.org.

Jackie is a food writer and photographer native to Tucson. He loves corgis and still thinks rickrolling is funny. If you'd like to stalk him, visit jackietran.com and his Instagram @jackie_tran_.

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