After making its debut in Tucson last year, the Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection will return to the Old Pueblo on Monday, September 12, from 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM at the Tucson Convention Center (260 S. Church Ave, Tucson, AZ, 85701). The Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection (Farmer+Chef) is the state’s only event of its kind, aimed at building wholesale food networks at the local level. Farmer+Chef brings together local food producers prepared to transact at a wholesale level and introduces them to wholesale food buyers at restaurants, hotels, and other facilities and organizations from across the state.
“Normally this event rotates to different host sites across the state, but in light of Tucson being named North America’s first UNESCO City of Gastronomy, we thought it was appropriate to bring the Farmer+Chef Connection back to Tucson this year,” said Kimber Lanning, Executive Director of Local First Arizona and the Local First Arizona Foundation. “Tucson has been leading the way in supporting the statewide local food economy, especially with respect to utilizing native and indigenous foods. We also had record turnout with over 400 attendees at last years event, and hope to build on the connections made then between local food producers and buyers.”
The cornerstone of Farmer+Chef is the Suppliers Marketplace, a vendor fair exclusively showcasing Arizona food producers and distributors. Vendors will be organized into categories based on the food and beverages they offer, such as dairy, grains, beer and wine, meats, and more. Food buyers are invited to peruse the vendors at their leisure, make connections, sample products, and build relationships. Following the Suppliers Marketplace will be an awards reception hosted by Bite Magazine featuring local food, beer, wine, and spirits. Awards will be presented to businesses and individuals in a variety of categories to highlight those who go above and beyond in supporting the local food economy. The nomination process for the awards program will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Farmer+Chef Connection is an event created for those in the food industry, but the event is open to the public. Those listed in the following audiences are specifically invited to attend the Supplier’s Marketplace portion of the event:
- Arizona farmers, ranchers, and food producers prepared to transact at a wholesale level
- Chefs, restaurant owners and management
- Purchasers and managers for grocery stores and markets
- Hotels and catering businesses
- Hospitals, senior and human service institutions, health and wellness centers
- Education and government food service procurement
- Any entrepreneur, food service professional, or member of the public that is dedicated to building a better community, environment and economy through local food supply chains
Early bird tickets are on sale now through July 31 for the Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection. General admission is available for $10 per person, and includes access to the Suppliers Marketplace and the awards reception. Food producers can purchase a vendor package for $80, which includes standard tabled space with ability to sample and sell, reserved parking, two all day passes, and listing in post-event follow-up packet. Early bird pricing is available through July 31, after which registration for general admission will increase to $20 and vendor packages increase to $100.
The 2016 Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection is sponsored by Bar & Restaurant Insurance, The Downtown Clifton, Vantage West Credit Union, Edible Baja Arizona, Bite Magazine, Edible Phoenix, Mrs. Green’s World, Slow Food Phoenix, Good Food Finder, Devour Phoenix, Tucson Originals, and the Food Conspiracy Co-op. Information, including sponsorship opportunities, vendor packages sales, general public tickets, and more is available at localfirstazfoundation.org/azfarmerchef.