(Photo by Jeaninne Kaufer)

A Flavorful Future: ‘Business of Heritage Foods’ Series (Fall 2023 Lineup)

September 5, 2023
By Tucson Foodie

University of Arizona FORGE and Tucson City of Gastronomy (TCOG) are bringing back the popular speaker series “The Business of Heritage Foods”. The series provides resources for building and sustaining heritage food-based businesses in Southern Arizona.

Part of “Thursdays at FORGE”, “The Business of Heritage Foods” takes place every second Thursday from 9-10 a.m. at FORGE at Roy Place, 44 N. Stone Ave. It is open to the public and free to attend.

“Tucson City of Gastronomy supports businesses that use and promote heritage foods that contribute to our community’s sense of place,” said Jonathan Mabry, TCOG’s Executive Director. “We work to increase awareness of our heritage foods and support locally owned food businesses through free workshops, a certification program, and resource guides for identifying heritage food ingredients and products.”

This year, in addition to inviting local food entrepreneurs to share knowledge, the series will include live chef demos. TCOG’s Chef Ambassadors will accompany speakers and demonstrate ways to prepare their unique products.

“The Business of Heritage Foods series allows the community to meet and talk with producers and chefs working with heritage foods,” said Mabry.

The first event in the series kicks off on Thursday, September 14 featuring Barbara Eiswerth, Executive Director, and Founder of Iskashitaa, and Chef Devon Sanner, TCOG Chef Ambassador, award-winning chef, and co-owner of Zio Peppe restaurant.

Iskashitaa Refugee Network (IRN) creates opportunities to integrate United Nations refugees into the community by strengthening the local food system, reducing local food waste, and increasing food security. The organization annually harvests over 50 tons of fruit, nuts, and vegetables from backyards, local farms, and orchards. Much of that produce is featured in the IskaShop which sells handmade small-batch goods created by Iskashitaa refugees and volunteers, including gourmet marmalades and small-batch date vinegars.

Chef Sanner cooked under Tucson culinary legend Janos Wilder and is also co-founder of GUT (Gastronomic Union of Tucson), an alliance of dozens of local chefs creating a vibrant community of creativity, development, and community engagement.

“We want to provide resources to local food entrepreneurs to help them succeed,” said Brian Ellerman, FORGE Founding Executive Director. “As part of our Community Alliances programs at FORGE, we provide support to both Tucson City of Gastronomy and Startup Tucson. The Food Forward programs from Startup Tucson are another excellent resource for food businesses. Connecting TCOG, Startup Tucson, and FORGE resources under one roof is a great way to accelerate the success of our local food entrepreneurs.”

Event information and registration can be found at Thursdays at FORGE. Companies who would like to be considered for future events should contact emitnik@arizona.edu.

Upcoming events in the series include:

  • October 12, SoAZ Made: Find out about a unique partnership between Startup Tucson, Visit Tucson, and Tucson City of Gastronomy to help market local food products. Learn more.
  • November 8, Oatman Farms: Hear firsthand about an innovative farm using regenerative, organic farming practices to grow heritage crops adapted to our soil and climate. Learn more.
  • December 14, Chilttepica Salsas: Learn from a successful entrepreneur who has developed a variety of products featuring the wild Chiltepin Chile Pepper, the “mother chile” native to the Sonoran Desert. Learn more.

Tucson City of Gastronomy is a nonprofit with the mission of growing a sustainable desert community by supporting our creative food cultures. The organization ensures that UNESCO’s objectives are met to retain the designation and broadly leverages the designation to benefit the Southern Arizona region. For more information, visit tucson.cityofgastronomy.org.

FORGE (Finding Opportunities and Resources to Grow Entrepreneurs) is a unique entrepreneurial community that combines startup acceleration alongside experiential student and community education. For more information, visit forge.arizona.edu.

Tucson Foodie is a locally owned and operated community. Thanks to our partners and members, we are able to offer paywall-free guides and articles. We value your support and invite you to become a Tucson Foodie Insider today.

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