Big Easy, here I come!

This weekend I'll be attending, as well as moderating a panel I've put together, The Farm to Table International Symposium (F2Ti) in New Orleans August 2-4th.

What's this about you ask? This is an annual event featuring the brightest thought leaders and leading practitioners in the burgeoning farm-to-table movement. F2Ti explores the cultivation, distribution, and consumption of food and drink sourced locally. Topics include the best practices for urban farming, bringing products to market, sourcing locally, sustainability and the latest with the imposing Food Safety Modernization Act.

Sounds great to me, don't you agree?

My panel is called Chefs & Farmers: How a Strong Relationship Keeps Customers Coming Back for More & Improves the Bottom Line - including my incredibly dynamic panelists Chef Cory Bahr, Chef Wesley True and Farmer Tommy Searcy.

During our panel, I plan to ask Chef Cory Bahr, winner of CHOPPED and wildly talented Executive Chef / Owner of Southern authentic Restaurant Cotton in Monroe, Louisiana, to tell us more about his approach to Southern cuisine and how he makes his dishes so unique. What inspires him, what challenges him, what he finds most interesting and compelling about the job that he does. Also, how he has put the farmer forefront in his restaurant. Showcasing the names of farmers he works with so clearly across one of his gorgeous refurbished wooden walls, Chef Cory makes sure everyone knows where his fresh meat, poultry and produce comes from.

Chef Wesley True is no stranger to accolades and praise. A two-time James Beard nominee, this Southern trend-setter has been named one of Alabama's finest, and listed among some of the greatest chefs in the country. He is known for his attention to the fresh seafood from the Gulf, as well as his casual yet fine dining with a classical French twist. His wife and partner Bobbi is a Certified Sommelier and helps pair the perfect wines with Chef Wesley's dishes. I'll be asking him about his classical training and how he built his business on locally sourced ingredients. Also, how he works with the local fisheries and how he sources his fish.

Tommy Searcy is a friend from Atlanta and co-owner of Gum Creek Farms. I first met Tommy at an event about 'pigs.' There were 5 dishes prepared by 5 chefs, all with pork. Tommy is no stranger to winning, as his very own hogs' tend to win all the competitions. From Atlanta's COCHON 555 to the BBQ cook-offs for Heritage Pig in Memphis. I've tried his pork belly - was the first time I had ever had it, and I found a new favorite dish that I seek out most often now. In fact, Gum Creek Farms sources to nineteen of the best restaurants around Atlanta, including some personal favorites - JCT Kitchen, King & Duke, 246, Local Three, Southbound and more. I want to talk to Tommy about how he selects his clients, how he sources to his clients and how his relationships with the chefs can make a difference to his (and their) bottom lines.

In fact, the Chefs wouldn't be where they are without the Farmers like Tommy and others, and I hope to discuss how these relationships are so essential to their successes, as well as attract new and current patrons, time and time again.

If you'd like to join me, come on down! There's still time to register.


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