This year’s 7th Annual Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection was held on Monday, September 12th, at the Tucson Convention Center in Tucson, Arizona. The event brought together local food producers prepared to transact at a wholesale level, introducing them to wholesale food buyers at restaurants, hotels, etc. from across the state in order to bring more local foods to store shelves and kitchen tables across the state.
After seven years, the Farmer + Chef Connection has grown from being a small and intimate event to one that continues to grow in numbers each year, right along with Arizona’s offerings in the food space.
During the Suppliers’ Marketplace—the main component of the event—Arizona’s small-scale farmers and food producers were encouraged to brilliantly display and sample their goods to wholesale food buyers, creating a space that encourages business scaling and growth for local communities. With an increase of 20% in exhibiting food vendors in 2016, the event saw nearly 200 food buyers representing a wide array of those looking to set up direct wholesale purchase accounts including Bon Appetit, Miraval Resorts, Welcome Hospitality, The Carriage House, The Art Institutes, and many more. In addition, members of the general public interested in the development of a better food system were also invited to attend, nearly selling the event out at its capacity of 450.
With 21 vegetable growers, 6 wineries, 7 ranchers/butchers, 5 dairies, 3 distributors, 5 breweries, 18 artisan food and beverages producers, and more at Farmer + Chef Connection this year, the possibilities for collaboration are endless and continuing to grow.
Following the vendor fair, an awards reception was held announcing the winners of the first ever AZ Made Awards presented by Bite Magazine. The AZ Made Awards recognized excellence in food, drink, and crafted products made in Arizona. By building these relationships, we hope to keep more money circulating in the local economy, support Arizona’s local food system, and bring more local foods to our tables.
The 7th Annual Farmer + Chef Connection was sponsored by Tucson Convention Center, USDA, Bar and Restaurant Insurance, in addition to our other sponsors below.
Planning for the 2017 Farmer + Chef Connection, as well as it’s sister event Food and Farm Finance Forum, is currently underway; those hoping to attend or sponsor either can be kept updated on announcements by signing up for the Locavore or Good Food News newsletters, or by following Good Food Finder on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.