Rhode Island: It's All in Our Backyard

Foodies flock to RI for taste, innovation

September 23, 2013 by jessica

Foodies gathered this past weekend in Providence for the Taste Trekkers Food Tourism Conference, “the nation’s first event for people who plan their vacations around food.”

Chef Matthew Jennings of Farmstead and La Laiterie delivered the morning’s keynote address. Jennings is a two-time James Beard Award nominee and three-time Cochon 555 champion. “Authentic food connects you to the history and culture of a place,” said Jennings, who encouraged conference attendees to vote with their forks and invest in local food systems. Jennings also called on Rhode Island to strengthen community based businesses.

Conference sessions featured several local chefs, suppliers, and food innovators. Davide Dukcevich of Daniele, Inc. told his family’s story in founding Daniele, Inc., which now holds the biggest collection of prosciutto in the U.S. and his own return to the state. “This is the best thing I’ve done in my entire life,” said Dukcevich. “One person can really make a difference in Rhode Island. You can come out with something that’s wonderful on a global scale.” (Side note: Daniele was one of several food-related Rhode Island businesses showcased at Saturday’s Waterfire by Rally RI. See this Providence Journal story for more detail.)

If you value knowing who raised or caught the food on your plate, you want to know about Trace and Trust. Founded in Rhode Island in 2010, Trace and Trust is a network to connect consumers and chefs. It brings high quality products from local farmers and fisherman into local restaurants. According to Gaspar Catanzaro, Trace and Trust is growing nationally across all sectors of the food system.

Ben Sukle of birch said that Trace and Trust supports a sustainable food system by allowing him to create a demand for by-fish and unusual species. Sukle is a Johnson & Wales University graduate, was twice nominated for Food and Wine’s People’s Best New Chef, and was a 2012 nominee for the James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef of the Year award.