Plate Local food industry expo returns to Harrington

Painted Stave Distilling’s Ron Gomes, right, and Ross Sheridan, left, attended last year’s Plate Local Expo at Harrington Raceway. As part of their efforts to buy local products, the Raceway & Casino stocks their bar with Painted Stave’s ‘Silver Screen’ Vodka. (Delaware State News file photo)

Painted Stave Distilling’s Ron Gomes, right, and Ross Sheridan, left, attended last year’s Plate Local Expo at Harrington Raceway. As part of their efforts to buy local products, the Raceway & Casino stocks their bar with Painted Stave’s ‘Silver Screen’ Vodka. (Delaware State News file photo)

HARRINGTON — What started as a way to bring players in the food industry together in Kent County will include Sussex County this year.

The second annual Plate Local features food industry buyers, restaurateurs, local vendors and supplies gathering at Harrington Raceway and Casino on Oct. 24.

The free expo, targeted at food industry experts, was built to acquaint those who buy and those who sell in the food industry in central and southern Delaware.

This year, the event has expanded to include suppliers, producers and buyers from Sussex County, as well.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“The event started out in the Kent County Economic Development office’s food innovation district,” said Hank Rosenberg, chief operating officer of hospitality for Harrington Raceway & Casino. “The Kent Chamber of Commerce got involved as well and we all ran it together. This year we expanded to get Sussex County’s tourism department involved and we’re working with the Delaware Restaurant Association, too.”

Bonz Restuarant executive chef Jason Ordway of Rehoboth Beach prepares Fall Fest scrapple sandwiches which include peaches and onions at last year’s Plate Local expo. This year the chef demonstration will have the help of Lake Forest School District’s ProStart Team. (Delaware State News file photo)

Bonz Restuarant executive chef Jason Ordway of Rehoboth Beach prepares Fall Fest scrapple sandwiches which include peaches and onions at last year’s Plate Local expo. This year the chef demonstration will have the help of Lake Forest School District’s ProStart Team. (Delaware State News file photo)

Last year’s expo drew about 26 vendors and 60 food industry professionals; this year the vendor number has risen to 30 so far and Mr. Rosenberg hopes for an even bigger industry turnout.

Attendees will sample food made by local products, meet producers from different parts of Delaware, and sample beverages produced by local wineries, breweries, and distilleries.

Part of Mr. Rosenberg’s involvement is a personal mission to support local businesses that he started at the Harrington Raceway & Casino five years ago.

“We decided that we wanted to start an initiative to really push out into the community and develop a bigger presence,” said Mr. Rosenberg, “We figured the best way to do that was with our buying power. We started sourcing out local vendors like farmers, butchers and dairies. Since then, we’ve been able to expand our effort, and last month we did $57,000 worth of business in the community with local suppliers.”

Among the many local vendors Harrington Raceway & Casino does business with is Painted Stave Distilling in Smyrna. The casino bar stocks the distiller’s Silver Screen vodka. Mr. Rosenberg was able to meet distiller’s staff at the expo last year.

“Last year, Kent County Tourism reached out to us when they were putting the event together,” said Painted Stave Distilling co-owner Ron Gomes.
“Although it was a bit on the small side, we were happy to help and be helped. It’s like anything that’s new though: If you don’t support it, it won’t grow so it’s certainly a good idea.”

Plate Local will also have a cocktail reception from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. to give vendors the opportunity to network with one another following the show. The reception is being sponsored by Haass’ Family Butcher Shop.

“We’re doing the cocktail party afterwards so people can network a little more in a little less formal environment and hopefully do some business,” said Mr. Rosenberg.

The expo hosted a chef demonstration last year, and will again, but this time with some assistance from Lake Forest School District ProStart Team. Harrington Raceway & Casino recruits their chef to create menu items from all the gathered ingredients from local vendors and the students from the program will assist with the demonstration for food industry experience.

“We really want to try to get the community involved,” said Mr. Rosenberg. “We’re mentors for the ProStart program we think this is a great opportunity for them to get some real world experience and network with local businesses and vendors.”

Plate Local sponsors as of Oct. 1 are Delaware Electric Cooperative, Haass’ Family Butcher Shop and i.g. Burton & Co. Attending vendors as of Oct. 1 include: Lewes Dairy, Genesis Deer Farm, Vanderwende’s Farm Fresh Ice Cream, Sexauer & Sons, Rapa Scrapple, Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company; Tatanka Sauce, Nassau Valley Vineyards, Evan’s Farms & The Frozen Farmer, Haass’ Family Butcher Shop, Delaware Distilling Co., State Janitorial Supply Coy.

For questions or to register for the event, RSVP by Oct. 17 to Jim Waddington or Rose Wurzel at the Kent County Economic Development Office at james.waddington@co.kent.de.us or 678-3028.

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

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